So I had my first near miss with a predator. The girls were free ranging in our small vineyard (which is surrounded by deer fencing). It's a good place to let them putter around while I'm taking care of other business. I was about 50 feet away from them when I saw something that didn't seem quite right out of the corner of my eye and then all hell broke loose. A redtail had landed right in the middle of the vineyard and the girls were understandably frantic. They all skedaddled out of the vineyard toward me and the coop. The redtail just sat there until I got within about 20 feet of it and then it leisurely flew off. One of my girls had the sense to run into the coop, one ran into the shed adjacent to the coop and hid behind some shelving, and the other two I had to hunt down in the brush. All is well, but they will be sticking really close to home for the time being. They have a partially covered extended run and over the remainder I've strung lots of criss-crossed cordage with prayer flags as a deterrent. I think I'm going to close off the covered part just in case that hawk decides to get more daring. In spite of all that excitement, I got an egg from each of them yesterday.
Red Tail Hawk
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I would definitely go ahead and close of that portion so that you do have a "ready-to-go" secure area to confine them in if the need arises - that way you can pen them up for a few days so that this bird will move on to more fruitful hunting grounds.
We plan to do that this weekend. I'm afraid that now he knows the chickens are here, he will be back. We do have a pair of Redtails that make their home in our back woodlands. I love having them around, especially when they have a fledgling, but not so fond of the idea that they will snack on my chickens.
Oh, I'm sure of it, since I think this is probably one of the hawks that has been in our neck of the woods for a while.
It's good your girls knew to get out of dodge and it's good you were there too! A vineyard is actually a very good place for them to be. Because it's in rows, and the way hawks hunt them simply dashing to the next row protects them. Since they have had this experience they will be on more alert as well. I'd say overall it was a positive experience!
I'm happy that no one was hurt, but I lost about a year of my life.
Their coop is secure and the extended run is fairly safe, other than part of it not being covered. The vineyard and garden area are surrounded by deer fencing because we have an abundance of deer. I like them to go in there to peck and scratch while I'm outside working around the coop area. I can keep my eye on them and they don't wander into other areas of the property that are less visible from the shed/coop. I don't worry much about ground predators during the day, but I know that we have lots of hawks here so I never let them free range without me out there with them.
Yesterday I went up there to let them out for a while, and while they did come out of the the run, they stuck like glue to me. They didn't even venture 6 feet away to eat the yummy grass and scratch in the leaves.
Edited by Stephanie R - 11/28/15 at 8:36am
I decided not to hack back all the volunteer trees planted squirrels so my chickens have more areas that they can forage in. Also leaving one laurel as it provides cover too.
Hope the hawk will leave your chickens alone.