Today it was Beauty and Splash who decided to have a problem puttering around in the world. This morning I heard a slight commotion out back...could have been an 'I've laid an egg' cackle, but my gut said to check it out...sent the kid out to check on the chickens, she comes back reporting all is well. I'm at my computer where I can see the back yard, so I keep an eye on the chickens anyway. A minute or so later, I see Millie, our Belgian d'Uccle MilleFleur suddenly go running across the yard, then stop, turn and stare back the way she had come, towards the back corner of the garage.
My Spidey Sense is tingling and I walk over to the sliding glass door. I see two other hens also looking in that direction and all three are cackling. Yup, that's good enough for me, something's wrong--and out I go to check things out.
I'm walking around the yard just looking at chickens, doing a beak count and checking general well-being, when I suddenly see Beauty, one of our bantams, stuck upside-down between the hose bib and the garage wall! How in the HELL she'd managed to get herself in that position, I dunno.
I was able to squeeze her out of there by dint of grabbing the hose bib and PULLING hard on it and pushing her out at the same time, and out she popped. I don't think she was in there or more than a minute or so, she ran off and other than being embarrassed, seems OK.
This evening I was out there sitting with the chickens and relaxing after doing some yard work and I see Splash, another bantam hen who happens to be molting right now, standing in a peculiar stance. At first I thought she was eggbound, but she wasn't standing in quite the right stance for that. The kid and I tried to round her up to get a closer look at her since she was breathing through her mouth, but Splash considers herself the Queen of the Wild Chickens and just squawked at us in irritation and ran off. We resolved to wait a bit and catch her when she went to roost this evening, which the kid was able to do about 45 minutes later.
We take Splash into the bathroom to get a good look at her under a good strong light. Splash has been playing in the dirt and has plenty of it on her face, but uh-oh--is also drooling. I clean off her face & beak and pry open her mouth, expecting to see some kind of growth, wound or infection.
Nothing. Inside her beak is healthy and looks great, and there are no signs of swelling on her face. Puzzled, I inspect her face...and find she has something shoved in one of her nares (nostrils), which is making breathing difficult. I clean her nares with wet paper towels (much to her disgust) and see that her right nare is enlarged--clearly, this has been going on for a while and none of us noticed it.
I'm a BAD Chicken Mom.
So I arm myself with more wet paper towels, Q-tips and various old dental instruments and set to work cleaning out her nare while the kid holds an unhappy and irritated chicken. I have to work very carefully and slowly, since I'm using very sharp instruments right next to her eyes. I dig out a small area where her nare SHOULD be, thinking she's just blocked the hole. I soon realize that part of what I thought was the inside of her nare, is actually a chunk of calcified gunk/chicken food/dirt. As I alternate scraping away/soaking the offending mass, it starts to seem like she's jammed a large orange seed up there--entirely possible since the chickens love to eat the blood oranges that have fallen off the tree.
The Loogey From The Pits Of Hell, as I am by now referring to it, finally starts to move and I'm able to grab it with my fingers and pull it out, which Splash doesn't appreciate and almost make her eyes cross (you ever get something stuck in your nose and have to pull it out? Yeah, lovely).
So here, in all it's nasty glory, is the Death Booger:
You can see where I originally started to tunnel through the thing, thinking the surrounding area was part of her beak.
Once it was removed from it's home, Splash looked infinitely happier, and I was able to wash out the cavity it left behind. I was relieved that it came out so cleanly, and that the tissue looked healthy and pink.
For comparison, here's what her other nare looks like--the nare is normally a small slit.
Luckily no infection seems present and she is fat and healthy otherwise. I'm a bad chicken mom for not noticing sooner, poor Splash! :(
Splash will spend the next few days in the house where she can get lots of goodies and I can watch SuperNostril for signs of complications in case I need to go spelunking in there again. Also so she can't pack dirt in there again--Splash needs to keep her nose clean!