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Do nighttime predators change habits seasoally?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Last spring we bought four chicks and have had the best time owning them. We have a very small coop with a run, to date have had no problems with predators. We live in a residential area but have woods across the street and at the end of the street about.02 mile down the road. The neighbors across the street have mentioned raccoons and coyotes in the woods but we have never seen any on our side of the road. We have noticed hawks around but the chickens are pretty secure from overhead attacks. We recently extended the chickens' run to enclose a very large bush - they love it under there! It is secure enough to keep the chickens in but, admittedly, it is not secure enough to keep out a determined predator. It's only been a week but so far they have been fine and enjoying their new space. My question is: do predators habits change seasonally? Should we be more concerned about potential predators as spring and summer arrive?
post #2 of 8

:welcome  Predators are opportunists and as such will hunt when prey is available.  Supposed 'night time predators' will hunt when they can be successful (except for GHO which will also hunt at dawn or dusk but generally not in full daylight).  All that being said predators will become more active when they have young to feed/teach in the spring and summer.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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post #3 of 8

Yes, they change constantly depending on your climate.

In cold climates, raccoons hole up through the winter.

They usually start hitting hard by April and May.

Now that you have chickens, you'll find out that your area isn't as devoid of predators as you think. After dark is when they all come out.

Residential areas have more food sources than woodland and are more prone to things like opossums and raccoons. Coyote as well.

 

It's estimated that there are 10 times as many raccoons in urban areas than there are in rural settings.

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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post #4 of 8
It’s not just that they change with the seasons. New ones are being born and weaned on a regular basis. They go out on their own to find new territory. For a lot of these predators there can be several broods a year. New predators seeking territory is a big part of the problem.

During peak mating season some males may roam, trying to find an eligible female. Or males might claim a territory and females go looking for romance.

A female with babies may be more active because she needs the food to make milk or feed directly to her babies. After they get to a certain size, Mama may take them out to teach them how to hunt or find food.

While many critters are more active at night any of these reasons can cause one to be out during the day. Many of them naturally hunt during the day anyway, they are just so good at hiding you don’t regularly see them. I’ve seen coyotes, foxes, a bobcat once, raccoons, skunks, mink, and even a possum out during the middle of the day. I’ll admit that possum surprised me, 1:00 pm on a bright sunny day.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #5 of 8
Predators I have hunt in large home ranges. Generally their visits to my poultry yard are not instigated by their going specifically for my birds, rather they are working areas they know from experience have good odds of providing a meal with minimal effort and risk. For my GHO's and Red Fox the primary targets are rodents and rabbits that are abundant in my yard. Chickens are often the targets of opportunity. The predators also have many other honey holes they hit and cannot hit all on a given night and likely cannot hit all in a given week.

What they do seem interested in as well as getting a meal is patrolling their territories which means they will pass some more productive honey holes up for those also allowing territory defense. If a given honey hole fails to yield, then they leave it be for another. My place continously has a bounty of easy to catch eats yet GHO's at least largely quit working me. They do not seem interested in trying to pack chickens back to the nest as they can get smaller prey relatively easily The owls will become a pain when chicks start hunting and will eat a large chicken on kill sight. Red Foxes have the really strong routine required to mark territory by simply walking over it and once in a while back it up with howling and the occasional scrap.

Red Foxes seem inclined to go after bigger prey when den is full of pups which can bring them my way. I also have to watch for near adult foxes attempting to setup shop near my yard although they have many other yards where such is likely to be more productive. Red Foxes also avoid me at the same the Coyotes are working me which is OK by me. The Coyotes are much less likely to come in when dogs challenge them while the foxes will get chased off then come back again 15 minutes later.

Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it.

 

 

Reminder to self: August 2021 Check Post #15852 in Show Off Your American Gamefowl

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Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it.

 

 

Reminder to self: August 2021 Check Post #15852 in Show Off Your American Gamefowl

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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the insight everyone. There is a lot of info here that I hadn't considered before. I didn't know predators were so territorial, they are quite the gangsters. We have some work to do to keep our girls new playground safe, apparently we've gotten lucky so far.

 

Sidenote: although I just created a BYC account today, this entire forum/site has been a great resource to us this past year as we have ventured into having our own backyard chickens. Thank you to all that are so kind to offer your knowledge and experience.

post #7 of 8

The interesting thing that you will note is that opinions vary depending upon individual experiences.  This does not mean that anyone is 'wrong', simply that what works for one in all facets of poultry keeping may not work for the next.  Cover all bases and hope for the best.  Good luck.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you sourland, I will keep that in mind as we make decisions on what works best for us. We had no idea when we got these chickens how much we would love having them, this has been a fun adventure.

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