1 chicken down, daily attempts to attack. How do I keep this out?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by UrbanFarmerGirl, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. UrbanFarmerGirl

    UrbanFarmerGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 18, 2010
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    Lost broody hen a few weeks ago- just disappeared out of the yard one day. Since then, we've discovered two resident cooper's hawks nesting just a stones throw from the coop. They are visible and audible most of the day, every day. They have dive bombed the chicks while I am standing in the doorway, flown into my window after swooping through the yard, and stared at the chickens from tree tops. We built a sturdy pen in a triangle shape with tree cover and the coop in the center, hoping the angles and branch coverage would be harder for them to swoop down on. They tried, so we got bird netting. I used to let the chickens out to freely roam the yard and come and go from the coop as they please- but now the pullets stay in the pen or locked in the coop all day. The big girls (about ten lbs each- pretty sturdy) get a couple of hours of roaming time in the evenings, only when we are home and can keep an eye and ear out.

    The hawks reliably come around 9am and hunt near the yard, but are always somewhere nearby. This morning I went outside to let the squawking chickens out, and the two hawks settled in to watch from a tree. I stopped to photograph, and then watched as they dove at and tried to attack and land on top of the coop. They made several attempts. No fear of me, standing just a few feet away. No fear of my dogs, no fear of the apples I threw at them. They are very bold.

    What else can I do to keep them away? I know Coopers are commonly referred to as a "chicken hawk" but had been told this is not typical behavior for them. Will they finish with the nest and move on? Will they attack through the bird netting? Should I keep the big girls in?

    Thanks! Here's a pic:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011
  2. froggiesheins

    froggiesheins Overrun With Chickens

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    The hawks found a free & easy meal. You will have to keep your birdies in an enclosed coop/run. MUCH easier to keep the chickens secure and safe with a fence & roof, than keep the hawk out. Only free range when you can guard them the entire time they are out of the coop/run area.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011
  3. UrbanFarmerGirl

    UrbanFarmerGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. I feel bad for the girls because they really WANT to be running through the yard and grass... but I suppose safe and frustrated is better than free and dead. Is bird netting effective protection for the top of the enclosed run area? So far (knock on wood) have been free from 4 legged predators aside from a few compost pile rodents, so I am not too worried about raccoon or possums- the dumpsters in the park and elementary school behind our house are easier for them I think. I just want to know if the hawks will try to figure it out- or if it is enough of a detourant. We got the kind that you use to cover fruit trees from birds.
     
  4. Rustywreck

    Rustywreck Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have periodic hawk problems as well, and netting over the run should do the trick. I have stuff that is like soccer goal netting over the top of my turkey's pen and nothing has tried to get through it.
    After a time without success the hawk will likely move on.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It would be kinda neat to see if a sprinkler system would deter this behavior...and serve the dual purpose of keeping your chickens cool. Fake owl? Chicken tractor?
     
  6. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wish I could help. As for the boldness, I heard of a Cooper that came down not three feet from a person and bounced after their chicken who hid under a bush. I heard of another that had a Cooper land on a fence and the person had all they could do to scare it off with a broom. When that predator instinct kicks in it is pretty powerful.

    I agree with froggie, you need to keep them in a run.
     
  7. UrbanFarmerGirl

    UrbanFarmerGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes I think especially because it appears to be a juvenile and a parent. The parent is teaching it to hunt, and the juvenile has no fear. I was also wondering about the plastic owls... but I am not convinced that any birds believe they're real. I see seagulls sitting near them all of the time and that's one of the birds they're supposed to keep away. Because they hang around all day I think sprinklers would be inefficient- too much water. But maybe if it were like a mister, just sending moisture and motion into the air. I am going to hope the bird netting does what it is supposed to do, and I don't find big holes or a tangled up hawk. The funny thing is, I think the chickens forced confinement is actually making them louder, thus attracting the hawks to them even more.

    Thanks for the input. I am hopeful that the netting will do the trick. I am just thankful the broody Mama was almost done with her babies and they've been doing ok on their own so far. Just wish this crazy bird would go after the rodents instead of the chickens!
     
  8. dirtdoctor

    dirtdoctor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you can get some old GIL NET from the fishermen, you can string it above the area where your birds are.. the hawk will hit it and LEARN. Worked for us. My son picked up a BALL of netting for free.. it was trashed.. but worked great for a cover to protect the small birds.
     
  9. froggiesheins

    froggiesheins Overrun With Chickens

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    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Quote:OOOOH THATS a great idea, I was also thinking about a double layer of bird netting on the top. I learned my lesson the hard way, about letting the birds free range without me there for protection........and I live in the middle of the 'burbs on a small lot. A feral cat got one juvie......[​IMG] but now that I play warden and watch them...NO problems...also the cat was found smooshed on the street not too long ago, I secretly jumped for joy. [ sorry all you cat lovers-it was me or him] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are lots of gill nets available on Ebay
     

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