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Can a Scarecrow work with Hawks? Any useful Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sheilawagner, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. sheilawagner

    sheilawagner Songster

    Jul 16, 2010
    Pacific NorthWest
    Hi all

    Today, we lost our very first chicken to a hawk. We've been keeping chickens for more than a year now, and this is the very first time it has happened. I saw the hawk with the chick flying away, and I was very upset. My chickens free range, I have 9 adults, with one dutch bantam who is the queen and she teaches everyone how to survive outside. However, I have 17 (now 16) 5 week old chicks (Cochin bantams and Polish) who have recently been transitioned from indoors to the outdoor sheltered run and coop. I am also starting to teach them to free range, by letting them out of the enclosed run, but now, they are back in again until I solve this problem.

    Today, while the dogs were inside, a hawk came and took one of my gold laced polish chicks to heaven. I want to prevent this from happening again. Or at least, minimize more chick losses. I understand wholly that this is nature's way, a predator needs to eat, or feed its chicks, and I know this is natural, but I still feel the loss and the hurt stings, so I want to try to minimize chick losses. I know it is inevitable, but I want to make it difficult for the hawk to get more of my chickens.

    It will take a while for the mother bantam queen to accept the remaining 16 chicks into the main flock, so in the mean time, they have to fend for themselves, when I'm not out or if the dogs are not out.

    Now I have 2 issues -

    1) How can I make the assimilation for the older flock accept the chicks faster, and thus teach them the tricks to survive, such as hide.
    2) How can I scare the hawk away? Does anyone use a scarecrow and what other methods are there?

    I do want the chickens to eventually free range, since we have an acre fenced in for them and my property has lots of trees, shrubs and bushes for them to hide, and they are now going to be kept in the sheltered run for a few more days. I'm letting the dogs spend more time outside to guard the chickens, but I can't leave them out all the time. There has to be some way. Please help.

    Here is a pic of my Airedale terriers on guard duty when they are out watching the free ranging adults.

  2. Higins00

    Higins00 Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    Hi, unfortunetly there is not much you can do about hawks. I have lost some myself. I do keep the dog out more but he can't be out all the time. I have purchased a plastic owl which I have to move every 3 days. I put it on their coop but it won't help if they are a acre away out by the mailbox but the hawks don't come near the coop anymore. I hatched out a rooster that I kept and he is the best! when he sees the flying bird he sends out a chirp and the ladies go running under the bushes and hide. He has been my best answer. Do you have a roo? Also when I know I will be gone for a couple of hours and just get a feeling, I call them in and lock them up until I get back. Curious to see if scarecrows will work but have never tried. I think your chicks are too young at 5 weeks to be with the queen but I would start letting them free range together as soon as they can hold their own so they will get along faster. Good luck.
  3. elizabethlongwood

    elizabethlongwood Chirping

    Jun 24, 2010
    longwood, florida
    I'm sorry to hear about your baby chick. We have hawks all around us, and I worry one will kill my chickens too. Our pullets have a 15' x 35' fenced in area where they "free range" for half the day. We weren't able to cover the area with netting like most people on this site recommend (too many trees of various sizes in the chicken yard for that to work), so we ran a spiderweb of twine back and forth over the area and then hung CDs every few feet. I read the reflection from the CDs frightens the hawks away. I don't know how effective that is, but like you, I can't leave my dogs out back all day. They bark non-stop and would drive my neighbors crazy. I have to add, your Airedale terriers are beautiful!! Hope you get some other good suggestions from the others.
  4. kipper

    kipper Songster

    A covered area. Be glad you don't have Bald Eagles.[​IMG]

    Sorry for your loss.
  5. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Songster

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    For what it's worth, we had a hawk try to get one of or hens and I was standing 10' from her, my wife was about 15'. So the scarecrow wouldn't work. It worked out in our favor though. The hawk crashed into the stumps were the hen was and the impact killed the hawk.
  6. maine chicks

    maine chicks Songster

    Nov 10, 2008
    Yep A covered pen area is what you need. When the hawks and eagles are bad up her I keep a small air horn in my pocket when I am out with the birds. I blast it right at the hawk and then get my birds back in the covered yard for the rest of the day. Sorry about your lost chick. I have lost birds to hawks in the winter too. Black chickens on white snow is a bad combination.
  7. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Covering your fenced in area would cost a pretty penny. The low cost way to keep birds of prey out is to hang old DCs from a string. As they move in the wind they reflect light which scares the hawks off. Your neighbors may think you have lost it, but the chickens will be safe.
  8. Ema

    Ema Songster

    Jun 4, 2010
    N. Ontario CANADA
    I agree with the cd's another thing to try is fake owls, the farm on the next road over had 300+ chickens, ducks and rabbits and the fake owls work for her. she doesn't have any of the pens covered.
  9. sheilawagner

    sheilawagner Songster

    Jul 16, 2010
    Pacific NorthWest
    Hi All,

    Thanks for all the advice. I'm going to do the following and adopt as much as your ideas as possible.

    1) I will try to find a fake owl, or large bird of prey and perch it somewhere. Maybe a fake cat might help too. No harm just trying.

    2) I will hang CDs from different spots all over the property. Hopefully the reflections will work.

    3) I can't hang a net over the 1 acre we have for the free ranging, because it is an acre around our house, driveway, and it has trees of various heights and things all over.

    4) I plan to let the babies spend more time with the queen, by letting them feed together, and just hanging together in the enclosed run. Once the queen accepts the chicks, the others will follow. So far, the babies are sleeping together with the adults in the chicken coop. I created a panic room for them to sleep under the heat lamp, and at the same time, the adults are getting used to having babies in the house with them. Its a win win situation. The babies are learning to sleep in the coop and share space with the adults, and the adults start getting used to more chickens. So far, in the daytime, the adults leave and free range, and I lock the chicks in the enclosure. Once queen lays her egg, she leaves the run too.

    5) I used to have 2 roosters, but they were maniacs. They were both bullies. The buff orpington was large and was bought from the store as a chick. The bantam rooster was the son of the queen (she got preggers by a neighbor's black rooster on her own) and he was utterly spoilt and has the worse temperament. Both would viciously attack the hens. I don't mean simple pecking, or feather fluffing, I mean roughly bite/grab feathers, and chase the hens no matter how far they'd run, and the hens would scream, run, and stay the heck away from the bullies. The roosters were no good when it came to protecting the hens either, when there was danger, it was my dogs that sounded the alarm, or the queen would, the roosters were the first to run and hide. When there were treats and goodies, they would dominate and eat it all and chase any hens that came near. It was causing so much stress for the hens and myself, and I put them up for free on Craigslist. I read from some posts about others who have dream roos, but unfortunately, I don't have any yet.

    6) I will not let the babies free range unless I was outside or the dogs are outside. We'll wait till they are much bigger, altho they are bantams and polish, they don't grow too large.

    We already have a covered run/enclosure, but it is an addition to the 8 x 8 x 8 chicken condo. The enclosed run is an additional 16 x 8 shelter for them, in addition to space below the house, as we live in Washington state, rain is a constant. We MUST have a shelter.

    I am determined to find a way to minimize loss. I think the scare crow wouldn't work if the hawks are attempting to take chickens even when the humans were near. Thanks for all your ideas. Will keep you guys updated.
  10. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Songster

    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    A scarecrow will just make a wonderful perch for the hawk to sit and pick out which chicken would be the tastiest. I have dealt with hawks for years and all of the CDs and shiny objects will not work, nor will that plastic owl. The only way you can protect your birds from them is a covered run and if you have a large open area, you can go for the netting.

    I'm really sorry for your loss but unless you want to feel that sick feeling again of finding another bird that has fallen prey you have to go with the covered runs or pens. My birds still get to free range a couple times a week but I only let them do so when I can stay out there with them until its time to go back on the roost. Normally that is only about an hour and a half at a time. I would love to let them free range all the time but unfortunately when you live in raptor territory you are going to suffer losses and once they find your birds, predation drastically increases. Chickens are just too easy for raptors to pass up and after that first bird....the buffet is open!

    All of that depressing crap out of the way...you have BEAUTIFUL dogs and your coop and run should be on the cover of BYC magazine!!! Well done!


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