Chickens Sometimes Bunch Up When Challenged by Hawk

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by centrarchid, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Today dogs and I went out retrieve trash barrel about 1/4 mile away. On the return trip I could hear spatzies (English House Sparrows) calling from cover of Sumac raising Cain about a hawk that I could not see. About 50 feet past the Sumac patch in my mowed yard I could see the harem based around the house standing tight together and looking directly at the Sumac Patch. Rooster (gamecock) was standing front of the group. Dogs keyed on spatzie calls and ran at Sumac patch flushing a young (brown rather than bluish-gray of adult) female Coopers Hawk. Chickens stood tight as dogs followed hawk for about 100 yards before breaking off. A few seconds later I got into a location where I could see a subflock of American Dominique pullets that was hiding under cover of a wagon about 150 feet from the games. The pullets were vulnerable of the hawk pushed issue although dogs would have crashed party this go around.

    I could not hear alarm calls produced by chickens. Context similar to when I can hear chickens actually threaten hawk but those calls are not the type that carriy well.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm curious, do you have juvenile birds in the group? Were they pushed to the center like some mammals do when threatened?

    Good dogs!
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Five juveniles pushing 18 weeks, one hen and cock. Juveniles and hen appeared to move to cock during interaction. I think cock did not move other than towards hawk. Prior to encounter birds were in an area about 30 feet in diameter but collapsed to point where all were within 3 feet of each other. I could not make out details of the collapse as view partially obstructed by bush.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    When I had a hawk land on top of my run, the chooks went under the coop and were vewy, vewy quiet.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Group of juvenile American Dominique pullets did just that at the same time as bunching up occurred with subject group. Group makeup and cover availability likely impact response to hawk. Rooster would likely not have defended those pullets like he would hen and juveniles of his harem.
     

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