Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How do chicken hawks and snakes get so smart?

Around this same time period, when I was very little, we also had several chickens in a coop under our house (our house was eight feet off the ground on stilts). We usually took the eggs and had them for breakfast but on this occasion we decided to let them hatch and so we had five or six little chicks running around. We often let the chickens range free during the day and put them back into the coop at night.

While the chicks were still little we found out that a chicken hawk was terrorizing the neighborhood. Several young chicks had already helped fatten the glutenous chicken hawk. We didn't want our chicks to add to the hawk's obvious problem of over eating and besides we had grown fond of our cute little chicks. One day they would grow up to lay eggs for us, or become tasty meals in there own right, so we decided to keep our chicks in the coop until the hawk moved on to some other neighborhood.

One afternoon I was observing the beauty of another day God had created, and considering the fact that we had outsmarted the evil hawk when I spotted it on the horizon. I was in no way prepared for what was about to happen. The hawk suddenly started to bank sharply and swoop down in my direction. At first I feared it was headed for me and I was about to cower (remember I'm own five or six here) when I realized it was actually headed for the chicken coop. I was just recovering from the shock when I saw the hawk fly right up to the side of the coop and proceed to reach through the wire and snatch one of our poor chicks. The hawk pulled the chick free of the coop and then flew away victoriously. We were sadden by the loss of our little chick but comforted by the fact that we still had several more.

Now several weeks later the chicks are still chicks but they seem to be growing up so fast and we are excited that we will soon have several more chickens. Then the unthinkable happens. One morning I went down to feed the chickens and discover that all of the five remaining chicks were dead on the floor of the coop. Each chick was slightly squished and somewhat in the shape of a cylinder. I was shocked but also very curious to know what could have caused this strange turn of events. It wasn't till I looked closely at the floor of the coop that I discovered a clue. There appeared to be tracks of some sort in the dirt and as I observe them it dawned on me what had happened. A snake, small enough to fit through the wire, had gotten into the coop and had eaten all of the chicks, only to discover it could no longer leave the coop with it distended belly, it proceed to regurgitate each chick, until it was again able to escape. The tragedy was, the snake was still hungry, and we lost all our chicks for nothing.

One tragedy could simply be bad luck, but two, so close together, and so thoroughly destructive, would seem to point to something more sinister going on...

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