Bald Eagles are after our chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ValerieJ, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crowing

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    I have spent the morning running reflective tape back and forth throughout my orchard, where my chickens free range, to dissuade the eagles from going after them. Normally they eat salmon from the river, but poor river management has caused an extreme shortage of fish this year. There is a bald eagle nest just around the bend and they need to feed their young, so you guessed it, they are coming after our chickens. They have gotten 2 of my neighbor's chickens and 1 of her ducks. I didn't think they could negotiate through the orchard, but they managed to and killed one of my chickens and wounded another. The problem is they can't actually lift the chicken, so I went out to see one of my babies slaughtered and half eaten. My heart is so broken over it. Normally my girls are so happy and carefree and I love that they have so much space to wander around. Last year I put this reflective tape up and it worked and when I felt the danger was over I took it down. It's hard for me to get around in there when it's up, but this time I'll leave it up.

    Here is my question for you all, how about if I set up a lot of tomato cages, upside down, spikes up, and tied reflective ribbons all over them. That way I could walk through the orchard, but the eagles wouldn't have a landing site. What do you think? Please don't tell me to put my chickens in a small cage somewhere. Some of my girls are 4 years old and have lived their whole lives free. Putting them in a confined space now doesn't feel right to me, so I have to find another way to keep them safe.:hit
     
  2. SurferchickinSB

    SurferchickinSB Crowing

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    How big is your orchard? Do you have to keep the rows pretty open to run a tractor down each row of trees?
     
  3. honanbm

    honanbm Guess it's just you and me, chicken hat

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    I feel for you. I'm also in Washington state, and the eagles are especially prolific this year. I free range in my orchard as well and lost my little call hen last month to a giant bald eagle. Came right up next to the house to get her. I witnessed three additional attempts at my standard ducks down in the field, but was able to run the eagle off before any casualties. I know that they're beautiful and it's nature and all that, but I really wish we were allowed to treat them like other predators.

    You may have a different experience, but I have never found reflective tape to be effective against aerial predators. The only thing that works around here is plenty of cover. I have a ton of river willow and weeping willow trees that the birds take to when they see a big shadow. We are also currently in the process of building a much larger coop so that we can keep them shut in for a week if necessary when the eagles are particularly bad. I say to give your tomato cage idea a try — I'd be delighted to hear if it works!
     
  4. SurferchickinSB

    SurferchickinSB Crowing

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    I have a lot of hawks, so I just also try to provide a lot of bushy plants and I also place growing tunnels so they cannot swoop down and grab the chickens. I just put up tons of obstacles and hope that by the time something lands on the fence or something that they will go and hide. Mine are just miserable when they cannot be free.
     
  5. honanbm

    honanbm Guess it's just you and me, chicken hat

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    Cover seems the best way to manage. That and having crows around. I didn't even see a hawk last year because we had a nest of crows on the property line. Talk about management! They ran off all the birds of prey. Seems they've moved on this year, which is pretty disappointing.
     
  6. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Crowing

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    After we lost a duck to a red-tailed hawk, we encouraged crows by scattering corn for them. When they are around, they do a good job of running off the hawks. Can you have a rooster? Lots of people in Oklahoma, where we have open fields and lots of birds of prey, will keep multiple roosters around as they are better than hens at keeping an eye out for aerial predators. They sound the alarm and give the hens time to hide. The people who do this seem to lose a lot of roosters, but since excess cockerels are so common, I guess that they don’t sweat it.
     
  7. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crowing

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    Oh no. It is a very small orchard, about a dozen trees and berry bushes. It's a hand pick sort of place. LOL
     
  8. DellaMyDarling

    DellaMyDarling Songster

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    What about making a chicken tunnel?

    Due to cost restriction, you may not be able to given them the entire orchard though.

    I'm picturing hardware cloth or welded wire fencing. Chickens are under 2' tall, so you could buy a number of 8' to 14' 2x4s, cut them every 2', to run the fencing across the top of.
    You could choose to box in the sides or not. Even just doing a long strip of this wire supported by timbers (or bricks, stumps, suppose anything works) would give them a large area where the nasty buggers can't swoop down to grab them. In theory, they should still feel free and carry on business as usual.

    My orchard can fit the tractor down each row, can yours? Making this tunnel in the big open row plus maybe adding a few other objects to hide under might help. I don't know if eagles will swoop down and then attempt to retrieve a chicken from under an object...maybe someone else knows. If they won't, you could use pallets leaning together, pet igloos or carriers, a trailer, etc.
     
  9. honanbm

    honanbm Guess it's just you and me, chicken hat

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    I do love a good rooster. Good, being the key word. I lost a wonderful rooster to a rotten dog last year. I have a Russian Orloff cockerel now. I'm hoping he is a gentleman.
     
  10. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crowing

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    We can have a rooster here and that's an excellent idea. I'm sure I can get my hands on one pretty quickly since everyone has one they don't want. LOL I have tried to attract crows here and for some reason I get every bird but crows. Have never figured that out.
     

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