I got a panicky phone call up at the shop on Friday lunchtime, “Mum! Mum! Come home! A fox has got Spice!”
Spice is an 8 year old Pekin bantam, eldest surviving bird & the brood mother of most of the rest. A couple of years ago she went menopausal, developed cockerel feathering & stopped laying, but we reckoned she doesn’t owe us a thing after 5 years of laying & brooding & she doesn’t crow, so she bimbles happily round the garden with the other 3 bantams during the day. The big girls are in the run at the back for most of the day as they’re too destructive to be out all the time in a small urban garden, but feather-footed bantams don’t/can’t dig so they can stay out. I’d be heartbroken to lose Spice; she’s a calm & friendly little bird & has done the rounds of all the local schools & playgroups over the years, with various broods of chicks.
Luckily one of my daughters was out in the garden when the fox struck, and although he had Spice in his mouth he dropped her & ran off. I shut the shop up quick, ran home & took her straight up to the vets, fearing the worst as she couldn’t seem to walk, there were feathers all over the lawn & a fair bit of blood. But the vet checked her over, announced that the wounds were quite shallow, and on hearing that she’d been “caught” before, twice, by spaniels (who of course just wanted to play with her, as spaniels do, and put her straight down to wait for the next move) he said, “She’s clearly a survivor, and I reckon she has a pretty good chance of making it…” He gave her an antibiotic shot & a steroid, and I took her home again.
To cut a long story short, today she started to show some interest in food again, and this afternoon she plodded cautiously out of the cat basket and then across the garden to sit in the sunshine beside the chicken run. Relief! We were all cheering her on. We’ve lost birds before now who have just plain died of shock after a relatively trivial injury, and one rabbit who died of fright when a buzzard flew too low over the garden; it’s amazing how some creatures are just born survivors & others aren’t. I think temperament has as much to do with it as luck; the first time we saw Spice, she was a tiny, determined & unflappable 6 week old grower plodding calmly around in a huge pen of wildly overexcited, much bigger birds who were squawking & flapping madly, falling over each other & piling into corners. Unnoticed in all the mayhem, knee-high to all the others, she was calmly hoovering up all the spilt grains whilst the others rushed around chaotically – a bird after my own heart!
Anyway, we aren’t going to take anything for granted; she goes back to the vet for a checkup tomorrow. And Mr Fox is still around; he was outside by the compost heap just after dark this evening & must be very hungry (or feeding early cubs) to come so close to people so often, so constant vigilance is the order of the day for now…