Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chickens in High Places

One dusky afternoon, I heard the tsiptsiptsip of the chicks and began following the sound. I couldn't seem to find them. For about five minutes it seemed like I had ghost birds in my midst.

Then I remembered how Diego, the now-missing handsome male, loved roosting on a duhat branch. So I looked up and there I saw the whole bunch of them-- mom and eleven chicks-- balanced skillfully about five feet above my head. WTF! I had never seen the chicks fly even two inches off the ground. Did the mom carry them up there?

I'm used to the idea of chickens as heavy and flightless birds, so things like this totally blow me away.

After doing some research, I discovered that in places with airborne predators like owls and hawks, roosting in trees is considered "dangerous". I figure that in my garden, where snakes, rats, and cats are things to watch out for, being up there is more safe.

There are no little boys either to do some nocturnal chicken-stealing. My dad, growing up in Fort Bonifacio, used to raise a long stick, with a little perch at the end, to tree-roosting chickens. He would then give the sleeping chicken a bit of a nudge, so it "sleep-walked" and shifted its body onto the perch. After slowly lowering the stick, he would clamp the chicken's mouth shut and take it with him to some Hardy Boys-type expedition with his friends.

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