HEN PA­TROL

Northern Outlook - - GARDENING -

Our neigh­bour­hood has been up­set lately, the poul­try com­mu­nity any­way, by the blood­thirsty ac­tiv­i­ties of one of our na­tive birds of prey, the fal­con, or k¯arearea. The bird has vis­ited over the past few months, perch­ing atop some old macro­carpa, peer­ing about,but it wasn’t un­til this week that it made a move, swoop­ing down and killing a hen. On hear­ing the com­mo­tion in the neigh­bour’s hen­house, I raced across with my cam­era and pho­tographed the fal­con, claw clenched around the neck of a now-dead hen and not a bit con­cerned at my pres­ence.

Na­tive fal­cons are rare, so we can’t even con­sider harm­ing this one. They seem to be gain­ing con­fi­dence around town as their nat­u­ral habi­tat shrinks. They strike from a great height, plum­met­ing down at high speed and dis­patch­ing their vic­tims in a flurry of feath­ers and squawks. Watch out for the karearea if you have hens, and don’t think your roof­less hen run is safe; it’s not.

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