Last night at around midnight I was awakened by a loud animal screeching, howls and harsh, frantic clucking. It sounded like it came from in front of the house, down by the beach. I grabbed the flashlight, pulled on my boots and walked out on the balcony. The noise sounded like a fight between a chicken and some other animal.
I ran downstairs and out the house. As I walked toward the beach and the water, I shined the flashlight toward the racket. I saw a big skunk fighting with a chicken – a mother hen with her babies huddled behind her. I assumed the skunk wanted an easy baby chick meal, but mother hen intervened.
The skunk had long claws and teeth and was twice as big as the chicken. But the chicken, armed only with her wings and feet, fought back bravely. The skunk moved in and ripped off the hen’s tail feathers, but the hen squawked, leaped into the air and kicked back, making the skunk hesitate.
As I got closer, the skunk saw me and withdrew quickly in the only direction it could – to the beach and into the water. It was high tide and the dogs were with me; the skunk had little choice but to go swimming, and I imagine skunks hate to swim.
The skunk never used its stinking weapon, which is mainly for defense against predators. In this case, the skunk was the predator, or so it thought, but I think it was surprised by the ferocity and courage of the chicken.
The chicken survived the fight. She was bleeding from the face and neck and had lost her tail feathers, but she saved her chicks.
I’ve seen mother hens defend their babies from pigs, dogs, hawks, deadly snakes and now a skunk, and they act anything but “chicken.”