Chickens and Wild Birds


9 Years
Apr 11, 2013
Gunnison, CO
Hi all!

With winter approaching, I've been getting ready to fill up my bird feeders with seed to welcome the wild birds into my yard. I have been doing this for years, but this is my first winter owning chickens. Are there any precautions I should consider in terms of exposing my chickens to wild songbirds? Should I avoid putting bird feeders in the area where the chickens range? I guess I am concerned about biosecurity more than anything. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!!

With respect to biosecurity, it is difficult to control transmission from disease from wild birds to poultry when latter are outside. My chickens will readily shift range to foraging area and some will even jump up onto feeder to knock seeds out. One of my game roosters was particularly prone to that. What I would be most concerned about is chickens leaving themselves exposed in an area bird eating hawks will frequent as the hawks try to catch wild birds. What I do to compensate is place feeder in heavy cover that limits the ability of hawk to fly. Within cover some chickens have much better odds against being caught and mine (adult roosters) will fight back with decided advantage. During winter months I have Coopers Hawks fly through flock multiple times per day pursuing songbirds like cardinals, mockingbirds and towhees but the chickens hardly even look up. If hawk lands close to flock, then rooster walks up to it and chases it off. If flock were hen only or something smaller than mine, then outcome would likely involve loss of chickens.

Make certain they have ample cover, especially with snow on ground. For times when it gets really cold I make certain they have something wooden to stand on that is exposed to full sunlight, protected from direct wind and is easy for birds or you to keep free of snow. Birds will loaf there most of day. My birds will fly back and forth between feeding station and loafing area and then to and from roost to avoid walking through deep snow. Have videos somewhere showing the flying behavior.

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