Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Winged Intruder

Sleeping solidly through the night when you live on a farm isn't always something you get to do. At least, I don't. I seem to sleep with one ear still "on"; listening for out of place noises

Living on a farm one block north of a freeway in a place with a prevailing southerly wind, makes discerning noise a bit tricky.  When the breeze is out of the north, or calm, it's very quiet around here. But when carried by Gulf breezes, the constant hum of freeway noise, blow outs or hot rodders; it's not always easy to separate noises.

Well, last night, there was no doubt the sound of the Great White Pyrenees alarm, followed almost immediately by the screeching guinea fowl alarm. 

I jumped up, threw on my robe and slippers, meaning to put on my Sloggers, and grabbed my phone - in the event it was a two-legged intruder - and rushed out the back door to see what the clatter was all about. 

And it's not even the night before Christmas.

Anyway, I arrived and looked around, scanning ground and then sky - just in time to see the shadow of a pair of vast wings slowly ascending off into the night sky. I so wish I could have fired off a photograph. But as it flew off, unable to make out if it had something in it's talons or not I supposed if it had something, I'd have seen it. Perhaps. 

I didn't stop to grab my spectacles on my way out the door. 

It grew quiet almost instantly as the winged invader flew off. And the only noise now I tuned into, was that of the creaky, squeaky noises the guinea fowl make when they're not screeching at full volume. 

I located where it was coming from, and quickly counted the white heads that almost glowed in the dark. Four. I should have 6. Not believing even a huge barn owl would carry off two birds at once, I decided if the other one, or hopefully both, were still around, they'd be huddled together in silence. 

So I herded the four I could find through the dark of the night with my familiar "feeding whistle tune" and slow movements into the chicken coop area they are supposed to sleep in. Locked up the door, and when back to try to find the others. 

There it was! I heard the distinctive noise, quiet, yet familiar. Was that a flash in the brush? My good flashlight lay on the desk; I will remember to put things back where they belong so I can quickly grab them; some day. 

So all I had was the dim light from my cell phone to search. Then from behind me, I heard a much more distinct chatter. Up in the tree was the lightest colored of the birds, one of the males, near the lower branches; not where he usually roosts. Surely they were rustled out of their sleeping spots. Of that, I had no doubt. 

I searched and sat quietly for over 10 minutes but just couldn't find the other bird, likely this one's mate, anywhere. So I decided to let him stay in the tree for the rest of the night. If indeed it had been the other bird I'd heard, and not just this one's call bouncing off the wall of the barn back at me, he'd find her in the AM. 

And I would be out at dawn with feed, to be sure they didn't wander off before accounted for. 

So, with that in mind, as if an alarm went off in my head, my eyes popped open at five after six and off I went, fully dressed this time, to the barn to snatch up some feed for my likely sleepless, feathered friends. 

First I called to the male in the tree, and as soon as it was lighter, he swooped down and came running for his snack. Trying to lead him to the other 4 in the coop, I walked slowly dribbling grain behind me. 

He came as far as the gate to the enclosure and then ran back towards the tree. No, this way! Silly bird. So I let the other 4 out, giving them some grain as well, and to my pleasant surprise, I turned back around the rain barrel to find my guinea pair - reunited! 

I was so happy I nearly cried. You see, guinea fowl, as I understand it, mate for life. And if they're separated for some reason, will often remain unpaired for the rest of their life. That always made me kind of sad to think of, so I was very happy to see his mate had survived the attack from our late night, winged intruder. 

Perhaps, but not likely, they will choose to sleep in their enclosure now..... one can only hope. Because, our intruder will surely be back.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!