A cry in the night

Today one of my Americana hens showed up at the feeder with 14 beautiful baby chicks.  They were a multitude of colors and very lively.  I always greet this event with a mixture of joy (for the new family) and trepidation because I know there is a hidden nest out there that might have weak chicks who could not follow their Mother.  I dread the thought that those chicks might die from exposure or thirst so I spend hours trying to figure out just where this hen was hiding so I can inspect the nest.  This afternoon I could not find the nest but tonight when I made sure all the birds were safely roosting I heard the dreaded “cheep cheep” of a lost chick.

You would think the sound is easy to follow – its sharp and repetitive.  But the peeps bounce off objects and are hard to pinpoint in brush or a woodpile.  And the chicks are cautious – as you get near to them they suddenly go silent and remain silent for a long time.  I finally narrowed this chick down to a section underneath a very old mobile home that was on the property when I moved here.  Believe me, its not a pleasant thing to be crawling around under an old, falling apart mobile home looking for a chick when you know the rattlesnakes are out, wasps build nests under the trailers, and spiders are abundant.  Fortunately the little chick started cheeping again just as I crawled under the trailer and I was able to get it – still wet from the egg and a gorgeous blonde color.  It would have certainly died tonight either from exposure or a predator.

I took the late bloomer to its Mother who was huddled with her brood in the safety of a chicken coop.  It immediately disappeared in her feathers making contented chick sounds.  I hope its okay in the morning.  A late bloomer like that is at a disadvantage in the brood but I hope its persistence and luck holds out and it gains enough strength by morning to keep up.  It won’t have to travel far for food and water – I put them all within easy chick reach in this coop and I plan on keeping the family locked up a few days till the chicks are really strong.  I just hope the little blonde chick makes it!

UPDATE:  The blonde chick made it and is thriving!  The little family now ventures out during the day to enjoy their busy chicken activities and at night comes back to the coop for safety.  This hen is a great Mom.

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