Chick gets adopted by Bunnies

Posted under Eco-Tourism Blog by Grootbos on 23rd June 2011

Getting to work before sunrise, our Stable Manager, Ronelle began her usual morning routine which includes checking in on our fluffy residents at the rabbit hutch and feeding the chickens still snugly sheltered in each coop just next door. Two weeks ago a new downy chick had hatched and as with all animals at the Grootbos farmyard, this chick had been given an identity- Fleck! As the icy wind howled through the chicken run, Ronelle noticed that Fleck was not huddled close to her mother. Normally, little Fleck would have been warmly nestled under his mother’s protective wing. Looking around, Ronelle could not find Flecks mother amongst the other hens bundled up in their cocoons. Ronelle lifted Fleck up and popped her into her fleece pocket where she immediately settled into the warm comfort.

As the welcoming rays of first sunlight appeared over the hill behind Garden Lodge, Ronelle went off to locate the missing hen. A fluttering feather caught in a fence lead her to a fynbos thicket not far from the chicken coop. There she discovered the feathered remains of Fleck’s mother. From the unmistakable feline spoor leading from the thicket, it was clear that a Caracal had taken prey on the unsuspecting hen leaving Fleck alone to fend for herself. Ronelle kept Fleck in her pocket throughout the day as attempts to re-introduce her to the brood had been unsuccessful. The hens clearly did not want to take responsibility for the new chick. As dusk approached, Ronelle tucked Fleck into a sheltered spot in the corner of the coop with the hope that little Fleck would survive the night.

This morning, eager to see how Fleck had fared in the night, Ronelle headed straight for the coop. Her heart sank as she discovered that Fleck had escaped the safe overnight accommodation! Frantically looking around, she could not find Fleck anywhere. Had she wondered out and been taken by the same predator as her mother? Ronelle was just about to give up hope when she heard the familiar chirp from not too far away. Following the sound, Ronelle shrieked with delight at what she found!

There in amongst the straw and fur nests of the rabbit hutch and tucked between two fluffy bunnies was Fleck! She had found her new home… and so, there she remains with her new family. If a cold gust of wind rattles at the hutch door, Fleck’s the first one to find solace amongst the reassuring comfort of her new housemates!

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