Saturday night, 2am, I was awake and out of bed before my conscious brain had fully processed why my subconscious brain decided I needed to be awake. I processed the sleeping memory of the sound as I ran down the stairs with Jake right on my heels. Distressed squawking, like a chicken being chased. But at 2am?
Once outside Jake ran up and down the driveway with his nose to the ground. I used the big flashlight to check out the coop. The poultry door and human door were both closed and secure. The window was cracked, but only at the top, and not by enough for a bird to get out.
I went into the coop, the birds were all asleep, mama in her igloo, guineas and layers on the high perch and meat birds on the low perch and the floor.
Then I heard another sound, an eerie yipping and yapping, multiple canine voices blending together into a constant sound. It wasn’t a howl but an animated conversation. Based on the sounds I’d guess it was between 6 and 10 coyotes. They were nearby, possibly as close as the horse pasture across the street. That might be only a few hundred feet.
I exited the coop and Jake was waiting right by the door, his gaze and all his energy focused on the spot across the road, but when I spoke he followed me back inside.
After regrouping the next morning I’m quite sure we lost a bird, well, at least one bird. But I don’t know which, or when. We’re down to only 22 meat birds, we should have 23. However it’s been 4 or 5 days since I did a head count, and since they sometimes like to sleep under the coop instead of inside I can’t be sure when the one went missing. On top of that there are the two hens who might, we’ve been hoping, still be nesting outside. And who might, if we and they are lucky, eventually give up on the eggs (clearly not fertile) and come back to the flock.
Any of the three possible missing birds would match the orange feathers I found on the lawn Sunday morning.