I’m kind of used to finding stray birds in the chookhouse when I head out to feed them in the morning. Wattlebirds, crested doves, sparrows and starlings are the usual suspects. What I don’t expect to find is a young brown falcon darting from one side of the pen to the other, desperately looking for a hole to exit out of.
If it had been a dove or a wattlebird I simply would have caught it in my bare hands and released it, but this falcon had Edward Scissorhand like claws and a beak that just said ‘I’m gonna put holes in you.’
Considering that the falcon must have entered the chookhouse by means of a gap in the wire, rather than osmosis, I did what all men will do when they find a bird in the chookhouse, or a weeping new sore on their head or a sharp pain in an organ, just hope that it will go away.
There was genuine surprise though when I returned that evening, there it was, sitting stupidly on a branch in the middle of the pen. Every other bird can manage to find the hole they entered by, or one of the many others, and escape Castle Chookenstein. It was just my luck that I had the dumbest falcon in the world to contend with.
I called WIRES and received a recorded message that stated that in no way should I approach ‘Raptors’, so I decided to ask my learned friends on social media.
The question posed was, ‘How do I get a falcon out of the chookhouse?’ to which the answers were of course, ‘Whack it in reverse,’ or ‘Tow truck’ and ‘Get a Holden of it.’ I wasn’t about to enter the age old contest between Ford and Holden, because I’ve owned both, Holdens for nearly 30 years and a Ford for about 3 months in 1984. That was a dark ninety days.
I also received some sensible advice that included grabbing a sheet and using it as a thin shield against the raptors claws, covering it in the dead of night and then releasing it. They also suggested that I simply open the door. That may sound like the obvious thing to do, but life here in the Logan household isn’t that simple, for we have a force that has an appetite for chickens greater than an obese American from the deep south, staring at a bucket of KFC, after a week long fast.
Fergus, our otherwise loveable Husky/Border Collie cross, just loves his breakfast to be squawking in terror before he dispatches it. Opening the door would have allowed the chooks to also escape and because there is no way to guarantee that he would stay inside, I had to gerry-rig up an exclusion zone.
Once the corrugated iron and wire enclosure was finished I grabbed my plastic rake, jammed open the door, and with a bucket of chook food at the ready to keep them at my feet, I started waving the rake at the falcon. Needless to say the world’s dumbest falcon found finding the largest opening to be rather difficult. As soon as it landed on the ground, the chooks attacked, as soon as it flew into the mesh, there I was with my big plastic raptor claw. It once flew directly at the door opening but missed it by inches, silhouetting itself nicely against the rising sun.
After about five minutes the chooks were getting interested in leaving the safety of their enclosure and were making gestures towards the grass. Then fortune shone upon the falcon and after being set upon by the hens from hell after landing on the ground, it lurched across the chook house and finally took off into the open air.
He did it with great style and elegance, completely unlike any Falcon I’ve ever seen.