When Luke and I go on our daily walks, our route normally takes us through our yard (we have trails on either side of our house), and behind the garage and chicken coop. A few days ago, Luke started dragging me to a certain location because he smelled something. He sniffed out some “scat” – wild animal droppings – that concerned me. It was similar in size to dog poop, which could mean fox or coyote.
I asked the Dadz to get out one of his game cameras and set it up to watch the coop. Even though our coop is quite secure, I felt we needed to know what might be around, especially since the birds are all back to free ranging and don’t go in until dusk. He set it up and a day or two later, Luke took me to that same location and there was more scat, so I made sure we pulled the memory card out of the camera that day to check it. There were a few photos on there of the birds enjoying the yard.
But then we saw this, from later that same evening (the birds had been safely in bed for at least a couple of hours by then):
In the early evening, no less! If you look beyond the coop, you can see the lights on in our house. We can’t really tell if that is a coyote or a fox. I think it looks more like a coyote, but Dad says they tend to run in packs, and we have not heard any at all. If you’ve ever heard their eerie calls, you won’t forget it. We’ve heard it many times in the past at other places we lived, mostly off in the distance. Though there was one house we rented where they were very close, and we had outdoor cats back then. That made me quite nervous!
However, you will see in the next photos how he moves closer to the coop (that’s the coop, the small window you see to the right of the tractor). But in the next shot, boom! – the sensor light has come on at the front of the coop and he is nowhere to be seen!
This makes me very thankful that we built such a secure coop. It is really just a small shed and it has house windows and doors. We make sure the windows are mostly closed at night. I wasn’t sure if we were overdoing things by building it that way, or when we added flashing predator lights (there is one on the edge of the coop, – you can see the bright dot to the right of and below the window – though that did not seem to deter this guy) and the sensor lights as well. There are sensor lights on the coop, and also on the garage and barn around the front. Anything going close by is going to set them off.
I probably saw that light come on that evening and looked out the window. The wind can set it off as well sometimes though, so if we don’t see anything, we’re not overly concerned.
The good news is that all that was seen over the next couple of days was wildlife we like to see…..
…..and there’s Luke and I passing by, on our way to inspect the area for any more signs of intruders. There has been nothing new, but we will check the camera again every so often. I have never felt like we could be too safe. I belong to a few local Facebook groups for farmers and poultry keepers. I read story after story of people losing their entire flocks to predators (even a good blog friend – not local – sadly lost all hers).
When we lost our four birds to a fox this last spring, that was way more than enough for me. We weren’t going to leave things to chance any more, and we took even more security measures. We lost all ours during the day, I think that may be more of a spring thing, but we will always be on alert. We had to learn the hard way that bad things can happen during the day too, but I feel like our nighttime security has always been good.
Seeing what’s out there at night assures me we can’t be too careful when it comes to that, and I’m thankful we didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way. I’m also thankful for Luke, whose nose often lets me know something is going on we should be aware of!
Thank you to our friends at Brian’s Home for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop! Please visit other blogs through the links below.
Jodi Stone says
What a good nose Luke has!! Having that trail cam must be SO nice, it helps to know what’s out there. And you are right, you can not be too safe.
There are times when my dogs are stuck in a certain spot on their walks, and that’s when I know something has been around.
That trail camera will stay pointed at the coop from now on! Luke smells a lot of stuff when we walk, but he could be a bird hunter too. He knows if the turkeys have been around, and he’s flushed up several grouse too!
JOANN stancer says
What a little buggar! Hope your birds stay safe, that’s scary to have a critter that close.
So far, so good!
We have coyotes in our neighborhood and I’ve only ever seen them one at a time, but I think they live in packs, especially during denning season in the spring. I’m glad that your night security is so strong and that guy–what it was–got scared away from the coop!
Whenever we’d hear them howling, it was always several of them. But I guess they do sometimes hunt alone, so this probably was a coyote. So far he hasn’t been back, so hopefully he realized it was not a friendly place for him to hang out!!
Coyotes around here don’t always run in packs. We see one at a time quite frequently. I hope that wild canine leaves you alone!
I read that they often hunt alone, so I’d say that one was definitely a coyote. He has not been back near the coop though.
caren gittleman says
that is just so scary. I am sooo happy you have such bright lights, excellent idea. I am also so happy you shut the windows and all at night.
Sometimes in the summer we would leave them open a bit, but just a crack. There is one window that falls inside the closed “run” and we leave that one open so they can get some fresh air. It’s been so darn cold here lately though, it’s all closed up at night!
Edie Chase says
I’m glad Luke sniffed out that coyote and that your ladies are safe.
Thank you, Edie! So far he hasn’t been back, thankfully.
Ellen Pilch says
I am glad your girls are safe.
Thank you, me too!!
All Things Collie says
During the summer I decided to take an evening walk. I grabbed a collie, and headed out. Now I live in a pretty populated area, but three streets over is wetlands and a woods. As we were heading in that direction I spotted a dog just sitting in the very center of a four way intersection. His back was to me, but thinking he was lost I called out to him, “hey there, are you lost little guy? Do you need help?”
That’s when he turned and looked at us…and it was a coyote! He stared at us for a few seconds and then ran off. It’s funny now, but I was very surprised when it happened! (I bet he was too) Anyway, the point of my story, he was all alone, so you never know.
Yes, you are right about that. Luke and I have seen foxes when out walking too. As long as they show a healthy fear of humans, it’s all good. But when one fox was after our chickens during the day, he didn’t even run at first when I yelled! I had to step up my craziness with waving arms and running right at him. That worked. 🙂
Bell Fur Zoo says
So glad Luke sniffed it out and your cameras picked up the critter trying to get in your coop.
Bell Fur Zoo Mama
No one is getting to our birds!!
We live in a residential suburb, and see fox and coyote here, but it is true, the coyote are rarely alone. Normally there are 2 to 3 of them, but fox travel alone. How scary to see that guy sizing up your coop. Good idea with the camera.
It gives me peace of mind too. We’ve been checking it every other day and nothing else has showed up again other than the deer.
Looks like a coyote to me. Hate to say that! Glad the birds are so safe at night. 🙂 Good job, Luke!
Thank goodness for security!!
Melissa Clinton says
That is great Luke warns you of any intruders. We used to have coyotes in the woods around our house in LA. They sound so creepy!
I’d never want to run into one when out on a walk, that’s for sure!!
Monika & Sam says
You’re smart to be so proactive with lighting as well as having a camera to check things out. When my daughter lived in the foothills, they had predators who picked their chickens off one night. It was so sad, the kids were heartbroken. We’ll keep our paws crossed Mr. Fox doesn’t get extra clever and moves away.
We think – hope – he has moved on. I feel so bad for your daughter and her family! It’s been bad enough when we’ve lost a bird here and there, but to lose them all at once…ugh. So sad.
Mary Hone says
I would say coyote for sure. Fox poop is pretty small, and the body in that photo certainly looks too big to be a fox. Unless you have very large fox out there. I’m so glad your girls are in a safe place.
I’m sure you are right. When we had the foxes around, we saw their poop and it was definitely smaller than this. So far there’s no sign of it being back, except maybe way up in the woods away from the house, where Luke sniffed out some more of that scat. But nothing but deer on the game camera so far!
Shadow's & Ducky's Mom says
Excellent Job, Luke!!! I’m not sure what it is, either; but it looks too tall to be a fox.
I agree. We’re thinking definitely a coyote.
Brian Frum says
I think it’s terrific you have those light and yes, you just can’t be too careful. We’ve got all kind of lighting out back due to the coyotes prowling around. Thanks for joining the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!
The lights really do help a lot. We saw it come on the other night, and watched a creature walk up to the coop. It turned right around and left! We’re pretty sure it was just a porcupine because it kind of waddled instead of walked!
I always wonder that they are naughty enough to enter properties although they can smell that a dog (or dogs) live there… and specially the foxes enter nearly the houses… in broad daylight… something is wrong with our world…
It’s so true! Luke and I walk the perimeter of our property almost every day, so his scent is certainly out there!