Because that coop isn't very predator proof (big gap around the top of the door), I woke up especially quickly when I heard the most eerie shrieking sound at 2:30 am. I lay there for a split second processing the sound, thinking "I'm sure that isn't one of our animals...I've never heard that before...so maybe it's fine" before I told Nathan that I was going to go check. I rushed towards the temporary turkey coop, and just quickly shone the flashlight into the chicken coop on the way by. The roosts seemed too bare...like there were chickens missing. I shone the light to the coop floor, thinking some of the younger birds had been bullied right off the roosts...and saw the most horrible thing. Four chickens were dead on the ground and a mink was eating one of them. I screamed for Nathan and the mink scurried away.
Three of the chickens were Magpie's twin's chicks from June, and the fourth was Magpie's twin. The mink had picked all of the smallest birds from the roosts. Magpie is also missing. We had assumed she was broody somewhere well hidden since we found her on a nest of 11 eggs last week and took the eggs away...but now I think the worst. The mink probably found her.
We had raccoon proofed the coop...but we hadn't mink proofed it. That's the worst part - we knew there were mink around here. We saw them at the river nearby, and I even saw one crossing the road down the street. I just wish we had fixed the coop to make it as secure as it is now.
That night, we couldn't leave the chickens in the coop since it was obvious that the mink would come back. Our three options were stay up all night guarding the coop, leave Ryan outside to guard the coop, or bring the chickens inside. As much as we love our chickens, we didn't want to sit outside all night. Ryan would have howled a sorrowful tune if we'd left him out there, so option three it was. We grabbed dog crates and loaded them up with our 22 remaining chickens, and stuck them in the basement. They were some very confused chickens, especially since we kept turning the lights on and off the rest of the night as we would hear mink-sounds and rush back outside to check on the turkeys.
We spent most of Friday securing the coop. There is now 3/4" hardware cloth buried inside on all sides and meeting almost in the middle of the coop, joined to a big piece of plywood that sits in the middle. Every gap is sealed. I feel confident that nothing else can get in there.
We trapped the mink and it's now gone. It had to go - it was a daylight hunter, as well. It came back Friday, midday, looking to get into the bin where the bodies from the night before were. I got home after a quick hike and looked outside to see all of the chickens in a semi-circle around the coop, staring at something. I leaned over the deck railing and saw the mink just standing there, in broad daylight. I released the dogs as I was getting my boots on and they went absolutely nuts. They're good hunters, those city dogs. They flushed the mink from building to building away from the chicken coop. They make a slightly 'special' hunting team, though, since Ryan seems to be the only one who actually uses his nose. Abby is all vision and screaming, and Zoey thinks it's all a game of dig and find sticks.
We've now had a hawk, eagle, neighbour's dog, raccoon and mink attack on our chickens. Please don't let a bear be next! I miss Magpie :(