I knew the thieving rotten red fox was here thanks to photos on the game camera. Extra careful, birds not unattended, watching closely, looking out the windows often, but when I turned my back for 20 minutes, he attacked. 8:30 am. I went back to the house to get water for the birds, stopped to pee and change laundry over.

Red Fox.

It happened Tuesday morning. I locked the birds inside and went to an appointment in Calais. Covid means I get out twice a month to go to massage therapy and run an errand or two, but I can straight home in hopes of finding a missing bird or two waiting to be let in. Two did reappear but not until it was time to go up to roost. I scanned the yard around the hen house again on Wednesday morning for a survivor wanting to be let in, but there wasn’t one.

He killed the younger buff silkie rooster but he didn’t do it quickly. I looked out the window to see the rooster sitting on crusty snow. Through the binoculars I could see that he was breathing heavily as a barred rock hen pecked at bloody snow beside him. I ran out as fast as I could across the rutted snow and ice, pulled him to my chest, and cradled him through death throws, until he went limp and his head hung below my arm. A dazed barred rock hen walked away from me, away to the uncovered long tunnel previously used to dry firewood, through the open ribs, just out of finger’s reach. I gave her a moment to rest and then, rooster still in the crook of my arm, got her.

Head count – six birds missing, one dead one still against me.

silkie, bantam, chicken, chick, bantam chicken, buff silkie, white silkie

In 20 minutes he killed Sweetie, the white silkie who hatched and raised chicks and ducklings for me for many years. He killed Boo Boo, a barred rock pullet attacked by a goshawk in the pen. The hawk began to eat her alive before I found them, but she healed and thrived. Chatty, a barred rock hen with red dots on her back from getting between the hen house and my paint brush on a warm November day as she chatted away while I worked. He killed a buff silkie hen who was not friendly but was a nice girl.

Instantly, I blamed a bobcat and was surprised because we don’t have much snow, there are plenty of snowshoe hares and rodents for them, and they aren’t a problem in an easy winter. I was wrong, and if they’re around, they’re not causing any problems for us. It was the thieving rotten red fox. I don’t hate as a rule but I’m close to hating this fox. Did you know a fox can scale a five foot fence, snatch a bird, go back over the fence and disappear into the woods with barely a trace? The barred rocks didn’t go down easily. There are feathers everywhere, as though the bastard had a “pillow” fight with them before they died. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Running off with Sweetie the night after the attack

I can’t pass this one off with “just trying to survive” the way the starving bobcat was six years ago when it pulled rotting boards from the hen house and killed ducks. This fox isn’t starving. Unlike that winter six years ago, we have little snow, not 200+ inches. He’s a lazy opportunist with a belly full of domestic birds. He stole from me. He stole birds I cared about, and he stole food destined for my plate. The birds are dead but this isn’t over yet.