Describe 'One way to protect your flock from hawks' here
One way to prevent hawks from eating your birds
By Paul A. Barra
Joan was cleaning cobwebs from windows when the action began. Months afterwards she was still grateful she was outside at just that moment and had a broom in her hand.
The sudden outcry from the chicken yard almost unnerved her; it was a screeching noise, loud and terrifying - and persistent. She was off the stool and running for the pen before she had time to interpret it. She had no idea what to expect because she had never before heard any noise so ungodly in tone and tenor. As she raced through the gate, Joan noticed the chickens huddled in the shadow of the pecan tree. She expected to see feathered bodies strewn about the yard but she saw nothing. No blood, no piles of fluff, no signs of a massacre. But what else could that terrible sound portend?
The screeching was coming from a three-sided shelter we built for the goats.
With her heart thumping madly, her blood pressure high enough to pump water to the fields, she peered into the shadows of the shelter, broom raised in her right hand and her legs tensed. The rooster, a 12-pound Brahma who had never displayed the least bit of aggression towards anything in the two years since he was hatched, had a hawk pinned in the corner of the shed.
The hawk was on its back, wings stretched from one side to the other, huge talons stuck straight up, and its ferocious beak opened wide as it howled and screamed. The cock would not let it up.
Joan used the bristle end of the broom to move the rooster out of the shed. He went back to his hens reluctantly, constantly looking back at Joan and the hawk. But he went. The hawk lay still and stopped its blood-curdling screeching once the rooster left him.
In the manner of chickens everywhere, the minute the danger was past, life returned to normal for them. They resumed their mumblings as they started moving and scratching around the cock; he was watchful still but outwardly calm. Things were quiet again in the chicken yard. As I walked in all was calm and peaceful - except that we had a bird of prey with a five-foot wingspan sprawled in front of Joan, who had her broom pointing at the hawk like a rapier. She was not calm and peaceful.
The hawk was making no effort to escape. It was in shock, we found out later. I put on a pair of fireplace gloves and picked it up. We wrapped its wings in a beach towel and took it off to a raptor rescue site. They told us it was a juvenile Redtail: it was stunned by the encounter with the Brahma but otherwise unharmed. By the time we left, it was flapping its wings and ready to get back into the air where it was safe.
On the ride home, Joan and I tried to piece together what had prompted the drama in the chicken yard. The hawk could hardly have expected to carry off a full-sized Brahma chicken; each probably weighed nearly as much as it did. There were no smaller birds around. And the hawk could not have made a dive at one of the birds because the yard is covered with trees, at the time in full leaf.
We figured the hawk was a teenager out for a little excitement in its life. It landed in the chicken yard and was walking around looking to see what was going on when it met the cock. Young Mr. Redtail then learned the hard way that it’s not only cats who need to corral their curiosity.
The moral of this story for chicken farmers: keep a roo along with your hens, and buy big-*** chickens.
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