Yesterday, I lost my 18 month old Buff Orptington to a hawk that was bigger than she was. I had never seen a hawk up close like this. It pains me to even write this, but I want to share because maybe my experience will help.
First, I live in the middle of St. Louis, so even in the middle of the city this can happen. I have a large back yard, and even though during the summer, we sectioned off and put up temporary fencing so the girls would have their OWN yard away from the garden, the season was over so we let them have the whole back yard. They had about 1/4 acre.
Anyway, we had this tree we took down this year, and had piled the brush/branches of the tree along the back fence, but it was far enough away that the girls loved to get back behind the brush and look for bugs. They also used this to hide when hawks would come so we thought they would be fine.
What we DIDN't think about...was the fact that some of the brush was so full that they couldn't hide, but instead would get stuck.
Yesterday morning, I kept hearing one of the girls calling out. I just figured they were being noisy which they sometimes do and went on about my day.
Hours later, I heard the same call, and this time my gut told me something was wrong.
When I went toward the call, a huge hawk came out from behind those branches and took off, landing on our house. I went deeper into the branches and found her, half eaten alive.
I can't tell you how hard it was to pull that girl from the branches, her wing completely gone except for bones. She actually walked around the yard a bit until I put her into our time out pen.
The other girls were all still hidden under some roses.
I called my husband crying, just absolutely feeling guilty that I didn't check on them hours earlier when I heard her crying out. She was being eaten for hours. Awful.
He came home and we had to put her down because the damage was so bad.
After that deed was done, I pulled the branches out and insisted they get burned this weekend. The girls went into their secure run for the rest of the day.
A little wile later, the next door neighbor came over because her husband saw the hawk sitting on TOP of the chicken coop, then over on our fence and a few other places, just terrorizing the girls. Most of them were in the coop at that point, afraid to come out.
It was a horrible day. These are our pets, and I never thought I would become so attached.
The moral of this story is this...have places they can run THRU not just under.
This weekend, we will be reinstalling their temporary fencing to keep their free range area limited. We will be creating several places for them to hide as well and putting up things that glimmer in hopes that it will keep the hawks away. Today they will spend the day in the run. I hate doing that to them, but until the hawk realizes the easy catch is not available (which could be never), I will do what I can.
Sorry this was so long.