When I go out in the mornings to let the chickens into their run from their coop I'm always surprised at what's in the run waiting for me. I've found squirrels, sparrows, blue jays and cardinals in the chicken run frantically zipping around looking for a way out. There is a little space where they could crawl in along the dirt near the corner posts, which doesn't surprise me with squirrels, but I am always surprised that birds squeeze under there.
We seem to have found some permanent guests in a curious Cardinal couple who can't go a day without getting stuck in the chicken run - and even in the chicken coop sometimes. I tried putting birdseed in a feeder in a tree near the chicken run, but it didn't seem to reduce the number of days I found the cardinals in the run.
Some days it's the male in the run. Some days it's the female. Most days it's both. It's sweet that when one is stuck in the chicken run and the other isn't, the outside one scampers around the chicken run right next to the one who's stuck inside, following like a shadow.
Getting them out in the mornings is quite simple since I just open the door and they fly out, but some days they get in there in the middle of the day while the chickens are in the run, so getting them out becomes a bit more complicated. I can't open the door or the chickens will get out and the dogs would really enjoy that. I end up running around like a lunatic trying to keep the chickens in, the dogs out, the boys out, and get the cardinals out.
One time the male cardinal got in the chicken coop, which sent Sookie into a frenzy and she pecked out all of the red feathers on his head giving him a haircut like a monk. I had to reach in to the coop, grab the cardinal with my hand and throw him out. To thank me for saving his life he bit me really, really hard. I had a perfect pink X on my palm where he was holding on to me like a crab on a beach. You'd think he'd learn his lesson after that, right? Apparently not.
Look what I found yesterday afternoon. The cardinal couple flying madly around Sookie's head trying to get out. She was not amused. I got them out just before she monkified him again. It took that male cardinal about a month to get his red head feathers back after his last scalping.
When they get out he always perches in the big tree near the run and screeches for a minute before flying off with his mate. I'm sure what he's saying is wholly inappropriate and from the angry ba-gawks the chickens reply with, I'm guessing the chickens know what he's saying and don't like it one bit.