Cooper's (Chicken) Hawk spotted in and around my yard


8 Years
Mar 11, 2011
Western Massachusetts
I was very disturbed to see a raptor fly over my garage a couple weeks ago that I knew wasn't a Red-tailed Hawk. It was a slate/bluish grey color with a darker wedge-shaped tail. My wife saw this same hawk on a couple of other occasions. This morning, my father was over and saw it swoop onto a low limb of a swamp maple that stands between our property and that of the neighbor. It was after a black squirrel which it did not get. Unfortunately I have several squirrel nests around my house. Thus far I have not seen evidence of the Cooper's paying any attention to my chickens but I also realize that that means nothing.

I have a very secure run/coop that I will be securing still more. I am much more concerned about when they free range. A couple weeks ago I was out with my son in the yard and the chickens were out. We were about 30' away when the girls bolted about 10-12' and were very startled. A split second before they ran we heard a **thump-whoosh** sound but saw NOTHING. We searched the skies for evidence of a raptor but saw nothing. I am wondering more and more if this was an attempt by the Cooper's that happened so fast we just didn't see it. It scared the paste out of my girls...whatever it was! I have heard many accounts from people who have had them go for their chickens right in front of people.

Hawks are always a threat. We have Cooper's Hawks and eagles all year here. This year there is a new larger hawk, red-shoulder maybe, that is terrorizing my birds. He will land on the ground and walk up to them. They just recently decided they have to hide from him. So far, I've only lost 1 bird to an eagle. Another was carried off but survived and was found 1/4 mile from my house.

I have noticed that the Cooper's pay less attention to the chickens when there is a large population of squirrels. I suspect the larger hawk is also reserving his energy for squirrel hunting.
Yes they are FAST! We call them the Israeli Bomber Jets.

But your chickens are probably too big for a Coopers or Sharp-Shinned hawk. The fast, small hawk is after birdfeeder birds like pigeons and sparrows who are likely to be scarfing up what your chickens leave behind.

Sure it is possible the Coopers hawk thought it could have chicken for dinner, its just not likely. One time, I ate a whole turkey. But I don't know anybody else who ever has.

We have enjoyed bird-watching because of our chickens. The hawks have always been there, we just never noticed until the chickens showed us. Your chickens may sit still, like a rock, with their eye trained directly on the hawk, which will be invisible to you until you follow your stiff chicken's gaze. Eventually you'll see it. The hawk will be VERY close by, sometimes within arms' reach but our brains have never had to notice them before. They have speckles and sharp color camouflage which make them hard to see in a tree branch or edge of a roof in front of the sky.

Here's one on my shed:

Its not the bluish Coopers' but its small. We have several different visitors, a Harrier, a few generations of Red Tailed, a bald eagle hen, and owls. Have not yet lost a chicken, though.
6chickens in St. Charles :

We have spread peanut butter on top of a tall birdfeeder post, and the squirrels worked so busily on that, they never saw the Hawk coming. Technically, that's a bird feeder, too.

I had never thought of doing that. I love our fuzzy tailed rats.

My <#&^%$#> neighbors decided to shoot as many songbirds and squirrels as they could last year. I had to lock up my birds for a while because the hawks were stalking them like crazy! They even started trying to catch the neighbor's chihuahas. Fortunately the squirrel population boomed this fall so they are back on the birds of prey menu. I only wish the hawks woud eat giant lizards. We have been invaded by monitors now.
I lost my sweet Jo-Jo to a Cooper's hawk last week. It is a very ugly thing to come home to. I thought the girls had enough hiding places but I was wrong. My girls have free-ranged in our small backyard (that is in the middle of a subdivision) all year until last week. A juvenile got her. I have seen the adult and juvenile hawks recently. I did not educate myself enough on hawk behavior. I just simply thought it wasn't possible because of my yard. The Cooper's hawk is called the chicken hawk for a reason. They WILL eat chickens, they will eat whatever is easiest to catch at the time. They are predators...that is how God made them. I pray it doesn't happen to you. I would not wish that on anyone:( God Bless.
I has been my expereince with Coopers Hawks more than any other hawk species that they will hunt in close proximity to other animals that are larger, including humans. On a University campus where I monitored a Coopers Hakw nest over several years, it became apparent the adults, especially the male would almost fly between the legs of pedestirians they were using as cover to get jump on starlings and other songbirds foraging on ground. Same male would walk around on ground not two feet from the sidewalk and pickup nesting materials while paying little or no mind to students walking just a few feet away. What was really interesting is the people failed to notice the hawk at their feet.
None of the local hawks (touch wood) have shown any interest in my poultry. If they ever do decide to try duck, I will simply lock the birds up in their covered run.

It's easy to prevent a hawk from killing your birds. Hawks are not strong enough to rip covers off of poultry runs.

I don't want squirrels around my place. So if a hawk wanted to hang out and eat squirrels, she would be very welcome. I'd put out a pan of water for her to rinse the squirrel fur out of her beak.
So far so good. When my father had come by the house and saw the hawk it was after a black squirrel. I did some research on Cooper's and from what I read they are more the small bird/rodent type. Squirrels are definitely on their fav list. I have a lot of tree rats in and around my yard and I was planning to trap them out but the guy at the local feed store said that squirrels are very territorial and new ones would likely take over. So, I will cautiously welcome the Cooper's hoping that he likes squirrel more than chicken!

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