Casualty Hen – an update

One of the woodpigeons that shares the hens' food

One of the woodpigeons that shares the hens’ food

The blackbird pair foraging for mealworms

The blackbird pair foraging for mealworms

‘Casualty Hen’ has now been re-named ‘Houdini Hen’.  I introduced the hen that was having its backside picked back to the others a week ago. I waited till after dark till all the hens were on their perches in the henhouse and quietly slipped in the casualty hen on a perch beside them. In the morning it was fine and laid an egg before disappearing from the hen run.

I found it later in the day and checked the wing that had been clipped. I clipped one wing (a painless process) all of the hens when I got them so that if they tried to fly over the fence they would be off-balance and unlikely to succeed in their escape attempt. A couple of feathers had grown back and I snipped them off half-way down their length. An hour later the hen was out again, so I clipped the other wing, making it (hopefully) as flightless as a penguin. That seemed to be successful.

Next day the hen was out again.  I checked round the fence and found a gap that I doubt a hen could get through, but blocked it anyway. I returned Houdini to the run, but a couple of hours later she was out again. She came walking down the path through the wood behind the hen run about 9.00pm, just in time for bed.

Since that time she has remained in the run. I never did find how she had been getting out, she seemed just to be making the point that if she wanted to, she could!

A pair of woodpigeons and a pair of collared doves have been sharing the hens’ food recently. They are nesting nearby and as long as they don’t bring too many pals I don’t mind including them in the food bill. After all a pair of blackbirds, a pair of robins and a pair of dunnocks have been costing me a fortune in mealworms, and the many chaffinches, sparrows, greenfinches, blue tits, great tits and coal tits, not to mention the occasional great-spotted woodpecker have their food supply supplemented from the feeders. They all make the garden much more interesting.

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