Tragedy struck our little backyard flock last Thursday. Spot, the silver cuckoo Maran, was killed at the tender age of 7 weeks. The murderer is still at large, but since I like to watch a lot of crime shows, I think I’ve pieced together the crime.
Last known picture of Spot (black and white on the left) with her compadres. Happily munching on grass and weeds safe in her little pen.
Missy, aka Canine number 1. Certainly big enough to kill a chicken. Does not currently chase the adult chickens. Conveniently, “discovered” the body and led investigators to it (did not come inside when called).
Paisley, aka Canine number 2. Likes to chase all chickens. Even when they are safely penned, will run alongside pen, tormenting them. Clearly has something against chickens. Has, on occasion, grabbed the back end of one of the big chickens, but managed to not leave so much as a wet spot. When the body was discovered, she was chasing chickens. Also, clearly, she enjoys chewing on things. Nothing is safe if she can reach it. Uses her amputee status as a sympathy point, but most are shocked when they realize she only has 3 legs. It does not slow her down, at all. Chicken hate crime? Maybe?
The neighbor’s cat. Responsible for many song bird maimings this summer. Never killed any of them. Clearly a psychopath who enjoys torture and has a thing against birds. Possibly escalated to murder.
Hawk. Allegedly responsible for the death of one of the last batches of chickens although the body was never recovered. Was seen hovering over the big chickens two days earlier.
Earlier in the day the neighbor cat and one of the house cats that lives with us (Tabby) were observed by a witness (me) to be stalking the big chickens. The witness (me again) grabbed the house cat and brought her inside behind closed doors and shooed away the neighbor cat (allegedly allowing the dogs to chase it out of the yard).
A couple hours later, Missy, aka canine 1, was observed jumping and scratching at the back door, a tactic that generally indicates the need to go potty, but may have been used as a diversion. The witness (me again) let both dogs out and closed the door.
Twenty minutes later the witness needed to go pick up her oldest daughter from school. She called for the dogs. They did not respond. At that time, the witness looked up and saw the big chickens inside the covered pen with the little chicks. Concerned that the big chickens might massacre the little chicks, the witness ran to the pen. Upon arriving, the witness observed two big chickens and two little chicks inside the pen. Another little chick was outside the pen. The witness then realized a little chick was missing. Frantically, she looked around the yard and saw canine number 1 behind the compost bins. The witness went to investigate and at that time found the horrific crime scene.
The pen was examined. The lid was still on with no apparent breaks in the perimeter. How the big chickens got in and the little chickens got out remains a mystery. The body was observed to be missing a number of tail feathers and an injury to the bottom area consistent with injuries seen to song birds this summer from the neighbor cat. The neck of the victim appeared broken and the top half of the bird was wet, as though it had been inside a large mouth.
While we may never know for sure what happened to Spot, the evidence points to two partners in crime. It is believed that somehow the neighbor cat began tormenting the older chickens who took refuge inside the baby chick pen, thereby allowing baby chicks to escape. The cat then turned his attention to Spot, who he chased and maimed. Inside the house, Missy saw the activity and feigned needing to potty. She became excited by the injured bird and cornered Spot behind the compost bins where she finished the job, possibly in an attempt to play.
Due to plausible deniability, neither suspect was charged with the murder. Although, the witness states she may encourage cat chasing in the future. The remaining chicks were placed in protective custody and now spend their days in the smaller run off the main coop, which is locked and wooden framed so as to not allow any uncontrolled entrances or exits.