Early August has been tough for the girls...they are hardly laying any eggs and at least Eunice and Delores are starting to moult and there are feathers everywhere. Moulting is the yearly ritual of shedding feathers and growing a new set. It normally happens in the fall but the girls are getting a jump start and Eunice is starting to look more scrawny than usual.
And now skunks... Two weeks ago Naomi sighted a couple of skunks in the yard one morning. Following the advice of one of our kids she called the police in case the skunks were rabid as they are not usually out during the day. The police weren't that concerned and after the initial visit the skunks disappeared.
But today we saw a very bushy skunk wandering up the sidewalk about 1 in the afternoon without a care in the world. As soon as it I saw it I ran for the back to put the girls back in the coop but they were already there and screaming away. They really are an early warning system for all kinds of prey but they normally don't head into the coop if I've left them out in the yard. They'll either scatter to the bushes or stand still and scream. Not much of a defense when the hawk is scouting out its next meal. I was very grateful for their protective instincts today.
A couple of neighbors had already called the Animal Control Officer to report the skunk and I did the same as we were all concerned about its behavior. I didn't want him to think this was related to my keeping chickens as the skunk was wandering in several yards and in the street. Basically, since the skunk didn't appear to be rabid (no wandering in circles or menacing behavior) there wasn't much the officer could do as the skunk was more nuisance than anything. Since a neighbor had earlier seen the skunk with its kids we certainly didn't want to separate them. The officer said it wasn't uncommon this time of year for raccoons and skunks to come out during the day to forage for food for their children.
My feeling is that we need to co-exist with this skunk as it's her neighborhood too though I'd prefer she return to her more nocturnal habits. I'll just have to be more careful about letting the girls outside the coop. I'm thankful they alert me to every potential danger in the yard, real or imagined.