I witnessed my first attack on the guinea flock today. It came from the sky.
I let the birds out around nine this morning, and they spent all day wandering the yard, being very good about staying away from the road and sticking close to the coop, house and garage. They were actually right in front of their coop when I stepped onto the front porch and saw a small bird hovering among the guineas. They were wildly sounding the alarm, and the attacker wasn’t exactly being subtle with his high klee klee klee call. As annoying as it is to think something was after my birds, I have to give this little guy props for trying. After failing to cart off a bird that was at least twice as big as he was, he flew to a tall tree at the corner of the property to collect his dignity. And then he took off, presumably to pick on somebody his own size.
I broke out my bird book and figured out that I’d been visited by a kestrel, a small hawk about the size of a jay. I think he was one of a pair, as during this whole encounter I heard another bird flying over the woods making the same call.
The rest of the day passed without incident, though I was nervous about how I’d get the birds back in the coop at nightfall. After one weekend of allowing me to herd them into their coop, last weekend the birds decided to rebel on the very afternoon I needed to put them away and drive out of town for an overnight trip. They started splitting into two groups as I got them close to the coop door. As just one person, it was impossible for me to play defense. Thank goodness my neighbor noticed my frantic jogging about the back pasture and rode to my rescue on his mountain bike. With his presence, the flock fell in line and everyone jumped right in the coop.
So I was hoping I wouldn’t have a repeat of that situation. I figured I’d leave the birds out all day and then see if they’d be smart enough to put themselves to bed at dusk. And guess what? Almost as soon as the sun dropped behind the big oak at the woodline, throwing the farm into shadow at about half past six, I looked out the window and saw half the birds in the coop. The rest were milling around, and I went out to “assist,” which really just made them anxious. So I walked away, and not a minute later returned to find that they’d all hopped in the coop. I scurried over and shut up their door, feeling a massive wave of relief wash over me that I didn’t have to track down errant birds in the dark. Now if I can just keep up this trend of them not getting eaten, staying off the road, and putting themselves to bed, I will be a very happy guinea farmer!