when I open the door
to the chicken coop
in the morning
a male guinea
chases one of the chicken hens.
Then rooster chases the guinea.
They do this for a few minutes
and then get serious about eating breakfast.

up in my yard under the Hackberry tree
where I scatter sunflower seed and chicken scratch
for the wild birds,
a male Brown Headed Cowbird flew in
with a flock of black birds,
but then he didn’t fly away again.
And he didn’t eat.
He sat, hunched,
on top of the seeds.
Neither did he fly away
suddenly, when the others did.


Chickens under Hackberry Tree

Rooster and the hens
venture into the yard later in the morning
and while they’re pecking,
the sick Cowbird toddles out of their way.
Eventually the cowbird moves over
to the heated water bowl.
He reaches his head up
and pecks at the rim of the bowl,
but can’t reach the water
and doesn’t seem to have the energy to hop up
for a drink.
He sits, hunched against the bowl
for awhile
and eventually,
takes a low flight path

Late afternoon,
chickens are back,
and so is the Cowbird,
though I don’t see him
until it’s too late.
A cat appears from somewhere,
nabbing the sick cowbird,
which sets off a chain reaction
among the chickens…
a brown hen is disturbed
and flies up,
which sets off rooster,
who runs after the cat
who dashes toward the barn,
rooster chasing,
until a male guinea goes after rooster.
They have a long cock fight,
head to head,
flaring neck feathers,
flying up,
dancing in circles—
neither getting the advantage,
until another male guinea
rushes the male guinea
who started the fight,
and they run off together.

I find cat but the cowbird
is already dead.
Before long,
chickens, guineas,
cats, birds
are all pecking the ground,
or sitting in the sun,
wandering around,
keeping safe space,
coexisting again.