Urban nature

I often find it amazing how many “wilderness-type” animals you can find in the city. Yesterday morning I was standing at the kitchen sink and looking out the window when I noticed something in the alley. It was a bird — a small raptor — sitting in the alley with something in it’s talons. It took off after a moment with it’s quarry (I think it may have been a mouse or small rat) still clutched tightly. 

I didn’t have time to grab the camera, but I remembered it’s distinctive look. I consulted my Birds of Illinois book (conveniently located in a drawer on the other side of the kitchen) and I’m pretty sure it was a kestrel. I remember very clearly seeing those black lines on it’s head.

Luckily, this little raptor is not capable of catching a chicken!

After our warm interlude, yesterday’s weather was quite a shock. When I went to bed early Sunday morning (about 1 AM I think) it was 49 F outside. When I got up at 7 AM to tend to the chickens, it was 17 F. Not only was it bitingly cold and snowing lightly, but the wind gusts were terrible. I don’t know the official speed they were clocked at, but they left quite a mess for me to clean up in the backyard.

The plastic covering the Eglu and run was completely blown off, despite being weighted down by landscaping pavers. The run floor, which I had just refreshed the day before with a nice bed of dry leaves, was now covered with a thin layer of snow. The Eglu coop door mechanisms were a bit iced up (this is just the problem I try to prevent by covering it with plastic) but they did open. The chickens didn’t seem to mind the cold at all, they still eagerly ran to get their food.

Not only did I have to wrestle the run covering back in place in those amazing wind gusts (and add more bricks to weigh down the plastic), I also had to deal with the cold frame cover being blown off. One side was laying across the yard, even though the cover had been weighted down, too, with some small weights. I had to place a landscaping brick on top of the cold frame covers to keep them from being blown off again.

So, even though I had planned to just quickly tend to the chickens and then return to bed for more sleep, it didn’t work out that way. No wonder I was so tired last night that I passed out at 9 PM!

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