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Weird behaviour

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Hi all

A weird one. Tonight at about 7 I popped outside back door to pull some carrots for dinner (I've got containers near the back door). I heard bokking and alarm calling so ran up the garden to the chooks yard. 5 birds all in the coop and asleep but the 6th, Wilma, who is one of my two oldest ones and is the head bird and usually very placid and tame, in a real panic flapping up and down the run and shouting the place down. I shone my torch in for a while and talked to her but although she calmed a bit she wouldn't go to bed, just stood there alert and anxious, so I went into the WIR and she ran straight to me, clucking. 

I picked her up which temporarily caused even more alarm and she then calmed completely as I held her. She did not have any obvious injuries or issues (though it is dark) so i walked around to the side of the coop and popped her in via the egg port, shut the door, shut the coop, and all went quiet.

I've just gone up now to do a walkabout and I could tell things were still unsettled as I approached the coop, she was clucking and stamping about. So I opened the egg port to peek in. The other 5 are all in classic roost mode, sleepy and confused and there she is stampeding up and down, wide awake and bokking/screeching again. I shut the door, talked to her for a bit from the other side of an air vent until she calmed and then left her to it but I could hear she still wasn't settled.

What on earth could be wrong with her? I can't see any obvious signs of being disturbed by predators and anyway wouldn't they all be upset if it was a predator?

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Rat was my first thought, but would she still be unsettled hours later?

I've just done a 2nd walkabout and though she is quieter than she was she is still clucking and stamping about. But it's only her. I didn't open the coop this time to look as I was worried I might frighten her some more.

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Had something similar happen a month ago Sarkymite; two hens refused to go into the coop and were obviously distressed. Checked the coop and nothing in there so put them to bed. In the morning we fitted weld mesh over the air vents. They still won't go in on their own though, even after a month.

Suspect it was either a mouse or a small bird, because we have no rats (our dog can smell them and goes crazy). Problem is they can go in through the open pop-hole anyway, so incidents like that are bound to happen. A few years ago we found a dead sparrow in one of the coops; appeared it had received one hard peck to the head.

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