Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Chicken loses wing after hawk attack; adjusts to life indoors


October 5, 2017

Kelsey Taylor’s Naked Neck Chicken Wendy is one tough hen, despite the fact that she’ll soon be wearing a diaper.

Taylor’s egg-laying hen, six-month-old Wendy, escaped her pen in early September and was nabbed by a hawk at their home on Small Tracts Road.

“My husband heard her screaming, and saw the hawk swoop down and fly away with her,” Taylor said. “We thought, ‘Well, she’s gone.’”

Later that evening, about 12 hours after the hawk flew away with the hen, Taylor went out to feed her remaining ducks and chickens and saw Wendy, bloody and mangled, trying to get back into her pen.

“She was just outside walking around trying to figure out how to get back in,” Taylor said. “Her bone was exposed on her wing.”

Taylor contacted veterinarian Michelle Oakley who stopped by the next day. Dr. Oakley said Wendy’s wing needed to be amputated, but might not survive the surgery. Taylor was determined to save her chicken.

“I thought, ‘She escaped this hawk somehow and she found her way back home so she at least deserves a shot,’” Taylor said.

Taylor searched the internet for funding assistance and found Harley’s Hope Foundation. Harley’s provides money for people who need assistance with emergency veterinary care.

“If they need emergency service and they don’t have the money, we will pay for it so their pet doesn’t have to be euthanized,” said Harley’s public relations spokesperson Kim Brandon. “You guys were our first Alaska case and it was a chicken. How many people have pet chickens?”

Dr. Oakley amputated Wendy’s wing a few days later. The chicken was given anesthesia and the surgery lasted about 40 minutes. Oakley said the surgery was her first chicken wing amputation. She maintained a positive bedside manner throughout the process.

“The phrase, ‘Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing,’ kept coming to mind the entire time I was removing it,” Oakley said. “When I applied the iodine antiseptic, it literally looked just like BBQ sauce.”

Oakley said that while some people may be surprised an animal owner would go to such lengths to save a chicken, she understands the attachment.

“You love your farm animals,” Oakley said. “You take care of them. They may even become pets during their life. It didn’t really surprise me. It’s not always about economics.”

Wendy is recovering in Taylor’s living room. Taylor built a small room for Wendy out of a cardboard box. She lined the bottom with puppy pads. They’re waiting for the diaper to arrive in the mail.

“It’s just like a baby diaper but with straps that go over her wings,” Taylor said. “We’re going to have to tweak it a little bit to make it work. She has only one wing and a little stump.”

Taylor said Wendy is even starting to learn her name.

“You can say ‘Hey Wendy’ and she’ll poke her head up and look out,” Taylor said.

Wendy isn’t the only pet in the Taylor home. They also have a cat, two dogs and two parrots. Their one-and-a-half-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy has shown a lot of interest in Wendy, although the feeling isn’t mutual.

“He’ll go over to her box and jump up and look in and she hates it,” Taylor said. “She clucks and screeches.”

The parrots aren’t enthused about having another bird in the house. Their African grey parrot fluffs her feathers and stretches her neck out when she sees Wendy.

Wendy’s been a house chicken for about a month now. Taylor’s kids like to hold her and they let her out to walk around and get exercise. Although Oakley expects Wendy to make a full recovery, she might not go back to the pen anytime soon. Taylor’s found herself rather attached to her pet chicken.

“I’ll probably keep her inside,” Taylor said. “My husband’s not too happy about that.”


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