Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Goodbye Special-Needs Charley

I am so sad to share that our sweet Special-Needs Charley girl joined Bannie and Bubkat in chicken heaven. Charley had such a tough start and frankly, we didn't think she'd even be strong enough to grow into the peppy and sparkly little bird that she became. She was the smallest of the pack, and struggled with poor eyesight which led to over-scratching her poor eyes and cheeks to the point her skin was rubbed raw. She had trouble pecking at bugs and making it up to the roost at night. We gave her eye drops and neosporin, but mostly, we gave her all of the love and quality time that we could. Steve built ramps and stairs and perch-assists for Charley, and we carried her to her friends when she got left behind. Steve collected crickets and made sure Charley got the most. We'd shoo the other birds away when we found a score of beetles and bugs so that Char would have a fighting chance at chasing after them. She loved it. She'd squeal with delight chasing those crickets and pincher bugs, and thanked us with visits, hops onto our lap, cuddles, and snuggly naps.

Charley was so unique and funny. When she found herself alone because she didn't see her friends run off, she'd stand on the edge of the deck and crow! I mean like a rooster crow! She picked this up from her rooster friends...they crow often...and crowing can mean a call out to tell others where you are. She learned this and called out the sweetest, tiniest crow and guess what...her friends ran back to her! Often times from way across the field. 

Charley also loved sunbathing but what she loved the most was sunbathing in my lap. She'd lay there in the nook of my legs with her wings spread out, soaking in the rays and the love. She could lay there for hours if I let her. She closed her eyes while she drank water, hopped onto my knee every time I bent down to say hello, fell asleep in my hands almost instantly, loved dust baths, her favorite treat was tomatoes, she was so so soft and had the sweetest scent. 

Char ran up to Steve every time he was around...without fail. She absolutely loved getting pet by Steve. She'd fly up to his shoulder or arm or back if he was nearby. She was a great flyer. Sometimes, when she found herself alone, ditched as her friends explored the treeline, she'd try to get to them across the field by flying. She would catapult herself straight up into the air as if she was reaching for the tippy tops of the oak trees, and then she'd land and with a quick gleeful and wobbly run, she'd catch up to her best pals. 

We didn't like when she was alone because we knew she was more apt to a hawk attack given her size and lack of eyesight. On her last day with us, she followed her friends to a whole new area of the yard - the front woods by the driveway.  They all  had the best time together, scratching and exploring the new vast underbrush and shaded hillside. Being completely covered by trees, we thought they'd be safe. I sat with them for an hour, just watching them all play together and then I brought Charley up with me to the coop to do some chores. She called out to her friends and I felt bad so I walked her back down, with a feeling in my stomach that I just wasn't sure about. 

Thirty minutes later, Steve yelled to me that hawk flew out of the trees and he heard screaming. He knew someone was attacked. We ran down and searched for the babies but they were no where to be found. I finally heard their sweet beeps call out to me, and found a group under a sticker bush. It took me awhile to tell, but they were all there except one...Charley. 

We continued to search the woods and finally found her feathers....and then nearby her poor slumped little body. She was still warm and we couldn't find any large wounds so I held out hope she was still alive and cradled her in my arms for awhile until Steve had to convince me she was gone. My sweet, tiny Charley couldn't escape the tight squeeze of that hawk. 

I wish I would have kept her with me at the house but at the same time I am so glad she had a fun last day with her friends in the trees and I know that is where she belonged and will now rest forever.

We miss our Char Char so much...she gave us back the love that we gave her and it's so rare that a tiny chicken would do that. We are lucky and so happy we had the time with her that we did and know she lived a very happy and spoiled life with us and her little friends.

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