Beast and Birds Showdown

While sitting on my back porch this morning, I saw two large black birds standing in our garden adjacent to our hen-house.

The northeast view from our back porch window.

I squinted and got up from my seat to get a better look, and I saw that they were vultures, just standing there beside our well-house.

I went out to shew them away and to see why they were there, thinking there were probably dead animals out there.

But when I got to where they were, I saw all our birds (chickens, ducks and turkeys) alive, standing at the fence on the outside looking in at them. It was like they were having a staring contest — a showdown at sundown, only it was 8:30 in the morning!

A portion of our flock at mid-day pecking at the ground.

I was yelling at the vultures, briefly thinking this may not be such a smart move, but I did so anyway, and they flew out of the garden and into the side pasture.

Then, the most amazing thing happened

The vultures landed in the middle of the pasture and all of our cows were looking at them.

Our milk cow, Tootsie, was in a separate pasture on my side of the fence, and most of the rest (about 6 or 7) were in the pasture with the vultures, along the fence line that borders the hen-house (where I was) and that pasture. (I wish I had a picture of it to show you.)

And then I saw her…our bearded baby.

Panda and her newborn calf.

We just had a calf born yesterday — all black with white under her chin, and she was in that pasture on the other side of the vultures with one other cow nearby. The mama cow, Panda, was in the middle of the pasture looking right at the birds about 15 yards away. A bigger showdown was set to begin.

I started yelling for my husband, who was in the house, but he couldn’t hear me.

Then, Panda started mooing forcefully at the birds, moving in their direction…like she was trying to scare them off. She was not happy. It was pretty intense with all the livestock focusing in her direction.

And then, all of a sudden, all the cows in the field started charging!

At first I thought, “Are they going to try and trample the birds?” But they all ran to the calf and surrounded her!

It was amazing, I felt like I was watching a documentary on Beasts of Burden and Birds of Prey, but it was up close and personal, live in my own backyard!

I started running back to the house, screaming for my husband to come outside. He was in his office on the opposite side of the house. I banged on the locked door. My daughter came running to unlock the door. He eventually heard me and came out.

I cried, “There are two vultures going after the calf!” (At least that’s what I thought was going on.) And I ran back to where the animals were.

By the time my husband got to where the cows were, the birds were gone.

All of the cows were still huddled around the calf. And it was like all of the animals were in a holding pattern.

Day old calf resting in the field.

We went out to see if the calf was hurt, and from a distance she appeared to be fine.

She was up and walking around.

It was amazing to see — how the animals (all of them, not just the cows, but also our birds and goats) saw what was going on, and how they conducted themselves.

About half of our herd relaxing in the shade.

My husband had a hard time believing what I was saying happened, because he understood vultures to be more afraid and thought they were unlikely to go after live animals.

I even started doubting if they were actually “vultures”, myself, and said maybe I was mistaken in calling them vultures, but they were some kind of large black bird of prey.

He asked if they were crows, I said, no — they were really large compared to any crows I’ve seen. Then there was a large black bird flying overhead, and I asked him what that was, and he said that was a vulture. And I said, that was what I saw.

Come to find out later, our neighbor said the birds were likely going after the after-birth from the previous days’ birth event, which now in retrospect makes sense.

Our cows feeding on hay in the front yard with a newborn calf nestled in the hay ring.

It would have been great to have gotten that whole episode on video. It was pretty intense.

Author: Homesteader's Wife

Carrie works alongside her husband of fourteen years, home schooling their three children while helping maintain their homestead in rural Virginia.

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