Bushes for cover from hawks . . . but which ones?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Prairie Mary, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary In the Brooder

    We lost a chicken to a hawk. We strung wire line over our most of our 40' x 40' chicken yard. There's a lilac and a crab apple tree on the other part. The chickens hangout in the lilac much of the time, and it turns into a hide out when hawks are around. The other hangout is what I call the play pen . . . although once the chicks were set loose we took the sides off it. It morphed into a screen covered 6' x 6' area just outside of the coop door. I like it because they can be out and look through it to see if there's a hawk there or not. It's not unusual to see them take a flying run from the lilac to the playpen or visa versa.

    ANYWAY, I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to plant more shrubbery for cover and especially evergreens as the tree & lilac will lose their leaves come fall. Also we could bridge the distance between the 2 hideouts.
    What do you guys think of this idea? I couldn't find any info on this in the FAQs and such.

    Which shrubs will hold up to the chickens in the long run? The chickens have been out in the yard for 5 weeks and so far the lilac is doing well. They don't eat much of it but the grass underneath is decimated.
    Is rhododendron okay to plant? Or any suggestions?

    I'd love to free range them on the back acre with the horse but now I'm not so sure . . .

    I really appreciate hearing what others have done!
    Prairie Chick
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2008
  2. dixygirl

    dixygirl Songster

    May 14, 2008
    Hi there,

    Sorry you have hawks. You say your area is 40x40. Why not buy this net that is 50x50 instead of leaving open gaps between plantings.


    You could put a few 10 foot post in the ground in the center of the garden to lift it up like a tent in the middle and hang it over the fence around the edges. Make sure to put the post close to 2 feet in the ground so it is really secure. You can use a post hole digger for that.

    PS Rhododendron is poisonous. But its OK because they usually know what not to eat. I have several poisonous plants all around and no one has ever died of eating them... not even the deers. They may nibble and figure out that it is not appetizing on their own it seems.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2008
  3. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary In the Brooder

    Thanks for the advice dixygirl.
    We opted for the wire lines rather than the netting because there are 4 large fir trees around the chicken yard and all of them are upwind when we get our storms from the south. Not to mention the ice storms. So . . . falling branches happen. Plus there's always pine cones and junk falling from the trees. With the lines it's less likely that the whole shebang will come down. That said, in the end we may have to throw the netting on top of the lines.

    I'll have to think about the rhody. It's just so convenient since we have a 3' one that needs to be moved anyway.
    The chickens must not like lilac either. They haven't trimmed it up.

    Prairie Chick
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2008
  4. chickeepoo

    chickeepoo Songster

    Mar 10, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    My girls (hens) run under a wicked, thorned bouganvillea when they see a large shadow fly by (hawk or plane). I don't know if these will grow where you are, but they bloom profusely, thrive on neglect, and grow back thicker when they're trimmed. They are painful to prune if you're not careful, but the birds don't seem to have any problem with them.
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Mine always take cover under the leyland cypresses. I have some planted right beside the picket fence and they hide against the fence under the lower limbs. They grow really large, though, so be sure they have room. Also, Rhododendron, being evergreen, will provide cover in the winter.
  6. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Heck, plant some rose bushes. It will give them somthing to hid under and something good to look at for you. And they do hid under the roses
    when there is a hawk over head.
  7. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary In the Brooder

    Quote:I love bouganvillea! Too bad they don't make it here. We have some cold snaps that sneak up on the flora. Just a few days ago we had a low of 38°. In JUNE - unbelievable!! I'm ready to move.
  8. Prairie Mary

    Prairie Mary In the Brooder

    Yea, leylands do get large . . . and fast! But we're looking for something smaller.

    I think rose bushes go dormant in the winter here.

    I hope the rhody wouldn't be taking too much of a risk. It's already large so that's a ready-made solution for this "cheap cheep" chicken project I got goin'.

    Or I if I could find a list of poison plants I could find something different and plant it. You guys know where one is?
    How do you keep the chickens from decimating young bushes when you plant them? Chicken wire?

    Thanks so much for the ideas!! :)

    Prairie Chick
    . . . who is throwing a garage sale this weekend to help re-coup (or would that be re-coop?) some start up costs. We're really not that tight - it's just fun to try and do this on a shoestring.
  9. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * A couple of drawf trees, maybe?? I drive around my area to see what other folks have planted that might suit what I'm looking for. When my kids were littler I told them we were out taking a "horticultural tour". (I used to love to drive around for no serious reason and just enjoy the a/c, but the kids always seemed to need SOME excuse!!!!!)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: