Recently I went to let the chickens out at 7 AM (the sun comes up at a much more socially acceptable hour since we went on summer time). Rosie and Isabel were pacing by the gate but Bronwyn was still laying.
I fed the 2 girls their handful of pellets and when I was ready to go back in the house, Bronwyn was coming out of her coop. I checked and, sure enough, she’d laid. I cleaned out the poo from under their roost and went to get some clean paper. Bronwyn followed slavishly and I rewarded her with her own handful of pellets.
When I went to go back down to put the clean paper in the coop I noticed a currawong sitting on the open nest box. They’re always in the area robbing mulberries, bathing or just watching the world go by, so I didn’t think much of this visit. Here he is in the gum tree – or if not him, his cousin.
As I approached the coop, the currawong and his mate flew silently away. I changed the roost paper and noticed Isabel squatting oddly in the bushes near the coop. I figured the currawongs had scared her but her squat was not the normal frightened stance. Another glance showed she was staring at an egg on the ground.
My first thought was she’d started laying outside of the nest box (a potential pain in the neck). Then I looked back in the nest box where I’d left Bronwyn’s egg to find the box empty.
Apparently the currawong had entered the nest box in the 4 minutes I’d left it unattended, grabbed the egg (in its claw is the only physical possibility) lifted the egg out of the box (I would have said that was a physical impossibility. How did it spread its wings to take flight? How high can it hop clutching an egg?) and dropped the egg (no wonder, it weighs 64 grams which is small by Bronwyn’s standards but hardly light). Isabel no doubt witnessed the whole thing and was going to protect the egg with her life – or possibly eat it if it broke.
The good news is the egg is safe, Isabel hasn’t started laying in the bushes (her egg was laid 30 minutes later in the nest box), Isabel did not discover eggs are tasty treats (the death knell to a good egg harvest) and the currawong was thwarted from its theft.
Whew, that was a close one. Perhaps in the future I should close the nest box or carry the egg away when I’m cleaning out the coop. Another lesson learned in the chicken keeping biz.