Chicken Hawk Dive Bombing my Hens!!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by EggDropSoup, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. EggDropSoup

    EggDropSoup Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ETA: I say "chicken hawk," but I guess it's something akin to a kestrel. It's definitely not a full-size red tail hawk.

    The past few days, I've noticed a chicken hawk hanging around in my big pecan tree, staring at my chickens and occasionally swooping over the yard. It's been getting bolder and braver, and this morning, I heard my chickens giving a distress call and I looked out to see the chicken hawk dive-bombing one of my easter eggers.

    Is a chicken hawk a large enough predator to hurt my chickens?? If it is, what can I do to deter it? My chickens mostly know to run and hide when the hawk is around, but if they don't run in time, can the hawk kill them? My boyfriend wants to shoot it, but a). I'm pretty sure that's illegal and b). I don't want to hurt or kill a bird of prey--even if it is a threat. He won't do it..he's just mad, because he's very attached to the chickens (as am I).

    Any advice would be great. I really don't want to lock them up in their coop all day. They love free-ranging, and they get rowdy when they're locked up. I do have a nest of eggs due to hatch in a few days, so I'm going to have to set something up where the babies will be protected in the coop rather than being allowed to run around the yard, as I imagine a chicken hawk would love to snack on them!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Well, the advice I have you most likely don't want to hear. First, do you have a chicken run that you can put them in...one that has at the very least netting on top?? I am not an advocate of free-ranging, so I can't be of much help to you except to say now that this hawk has 'zeroed in' on your flock he will be relentless until he gets them. Wishing all the best....
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    iwiw60 has good advice. We do have differing opinions on free ranging, though. My chickens free range, but do have covered runs attached to their coops. They get locked in when we're gone for more than a day, and could be locked in if we had a situation such as yours. The hawk would eventually give up and hopefully leave. That hawk does have its eye on your flock and could very well kill one if it wants to. It may not be able to carry it away, but would just tear it up and eat it where he kills it. Free ranging is great, but you do have to be prepared for losses.
     
  4. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Same situation here. I observed that hawks do frighten the chickens. It would swoop in and out for close look but does not actually attack the grown birds. It has grabbed silkies and chicks, firsthand experience sadly.

    So I do let my flock free range with the hawk watching, cant stand locking them in the run. I am not advocating my approach and this is a risk that you may not want to take. If the hawk is hungry enough, who knows!
     
  5. EggDropSoup

    EggDropSoup Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens do have a very large covered pen that their house is attached to. The pen is 16x16 and is covered on the top with netting and a shade tarp. I only have 7 chickens, so it's not like it would be horrible for them to have to spend a day or two in the pen, which is what I might do to make the hawk lose interest. For now, they do all run into the pen when they see the hawk, and the hawk wouldn't easily be able to get them when they're in the pen, unless it could somehow fly through their little door--which I highly doubt would happen. They also have a garden shed they can run into and some pallet lean-tos they can hide under, as well as some trees and shrubs. I was reading other threads on here from people who actually LIKE having kestrels around their chickens, so I thought at first that it would be harmless...but clearly, this bird is bent on having a chicken dinner. I will probably start locking them up when I'm gone. At least for a little while.
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I JUST read a post before I read yours about a hawk going into a coop and taking a 10-week old silkie out.

    ETA - The hawk mentioned in the other post was, I believe, a red-tail.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Species ID time. If an American Kestrel or Sharp-shinned Hawk, then now problems. Show a picture of offending bird.
     
  8. EggDropSoup

    EggDropSoup Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The pics are on my boyfriend's phone, but I'll try to get ahold of them tomorrow. I think what we're dealing with is a juvenile red tail hawk. :( I wish there was a falconry association nearby! Juvenile hawks are what falconers trap and train for hunting--and this guy is pretty bold, so it seems he would be perfect. I'll be home all weekend working in the garden, so I'll be able to keep an eye on things and see if the hawk is still stalking about. There are quite a few hawks around my house, honestly, but other than eyeing my birds on occasion, they've never done any dive-bombing, like this one. There are a ton of rabbits and squirrels and groundhogs and other small mammals around, so you wouldn't think they'd be hungry, but I guess chickens are an easy target.

    To their credit, my chickens ran and hid after the dive bombing incident, so for the most part, they'll probably be able to protect themselves. I'm a little torn as to whether or not I want to lock them up. I know chickens can be easily lost to predation, and it's a risk that's always in the back of my mind, but I've not lost a hen in awhile, and I'm kind of attached to this flock.
     
  9. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: Be glad you don't live in Oregon then...they are a supposedly "protected" species here. [​IMG] To me, however, a flying predator isn't "protected" if he tries to get my girls.
     

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