COOPER'S HAWK GOT MY EVELYN! How do I protect the rest of the flock?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by FiFiFeather, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. FiFiFeather

    FiFiFeather Out Of The Brooder

    53
    0
    29
    Jul 21, 2011
    North Washtenaw County
    The crime: A female Cooper's Hawk just got one of my hens. Poor hen, she never knew what hit her. My 9 yo daughter found her and is so upset. We came home from picking kids up at school and the hawk hadn't even taken a bite out of Evelyn (our hen), it flew off of her. My daughter is so shocked. It hasn't hit her yet. Husband just finished burying Evelyn [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] My poor daughter, she's cuddled up on the couch drinking hot chocolate...

    The situation: Evelyn would fly outside of our chicken run (24'x48"). There she would be alone but we'd put her back often throughout the days. Today I locked her in the dog yard (where there is no cover & she was alone--gaahhh! The guilt!!) cuz I was running behind to pick up the kids. That's where she was taken-outside the run in the dog yard. BUT now that she's been killed, how do I protect our remaining three from the hawk? I know it will be back to hunt.

    The Question: What are hawk behaviors? How do I protect the rest of my flock? Should I cover the run with poultry netting? Should I let the flock out of the coop(for the rest of their lives [​IMG] ?

    Currently: The hens always have access to their coop/hen house and free access to their coop and run during the day & get locked in the coop at night. The other side of their run has a small area of sumac (a brushy tree that grows in clusters). They can also run under the rabbit hutch. Is this enough? I'm afraid now the hawk has a taste of success, it will be back.

    Darn it! I knew we had hawks around and the crows have been really loud around the house today [​IMG]. I totally gave Evelyn to the hawk [​IMG]
     
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    5,532
    183
    273
    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    The only sure fire way to protect your flock is to keep them in a covered run. In some areas, you can let the birds out to range if you stand guard. Hawks usually aren't afraid of people, though.

    It is not a crime for a hawk to eat a chicken. That is Mother Nature's law and the hawk is doing exactly what he is meant to do.
     
  3. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    6,771
    130
    281
    Apr 15, 2009
    The hawk will be hanging around for the next several days because it was somewhat successful in hunting. You will need to keep the flock in lock down until the hawk moves on. In the meantime, a covered run is your best defense against hawks. Cheap plastic deer netting is worth its weight in gold. I have a serious hawk problem...or I should say I had a serious hawk problem until I invested in the netting. I haven't lost a bird in a couple years to hawks, but prior to that hawks were my most successful predators. Don't bother investing in CDs, foil pie lates, decoy owls...They don't work for longer than a week or two.

    Cover your run. Leave the birds in for at least a week after any attacks. Watch for certain times of year when hawk activity is at its peak (migration) and let birds out accordingly. Provide hidey holes for birds to duck into should something scary be overhead. Sumac is great cover, but I also built a few little teepees out of pallets/small saplings/broken umbrella parts to add to their cover.

    I hope this helps. Sorry for the loss of Evelyn.

    Good luck.
     
  4. FiFiFeather

    FiFiFeather Out Of The Brooder

    53
    0
    29
    Jul 21, 2011
    North Washtenaw County
    Thanks for the advice of the covered run.

    I will keep my girls in for a few days and put the dog in with them for the few minutes they are out. She's an attentive herder and will keep the hawk at bay while I watch for the hawk. The two of us should be able to keep it off the girls. I am investing in netting tomorrow!
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Even bird netting, doubled,will help. Slowing a hawk down will give your birds more time to head for the coop or other, "harder" cover.
     
  6. artsy1

    artsy1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    298
    1
    101
    Sep 5, 2011
    sarasota
    I use the netting that they cover trees with, to keep birds from eating the fruit. I have to have 8-10 of them all sewn together. It was a ton of work, but the hawks can't get in.
    The hawks around here, just sit and will wait all day in the tree to attack, then it is too late.
    The run is completely covered.

    so sorry, your little girl must be so sad.[​IMG]
     
  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    17,687
    505
    461
    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I just finished putting netting over a pen. A hawk got one of mine too.
     
  8. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Chillin' With My Peeps

    589
    8
    118
    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    I've had the same problem just before Thanksgiving. [​IMG] We had one laying hen injured and one of our pullets killed. They're free-rangers mass majority of the time. Hubby thought it was all the crazy black birds swooping around and cawing up a storm (he was outside at the time). He came in and mentioned to me... thought it didn't sound like them tho' and asked if he was sure it was them and not a hawk.... Said he didn't see a hawk, but I went out to see what he was talking about regarding the ruckus and noticed a hawk in the middle of our field, just sitting there. Thought that was odd and was sure s/he had something on the ground. S/he did! One of my pullets. [​IMG] Hawk didn't actually get to eat lunch tho' - managed to chase it off before it could start. Pullet was still alive when I got to it, but died in my arms shortly thereafter. [​IMG] After that, we kept the gals in their covered run for a few days. Hawk went away. Have paid attention to the black birds activity ever since.
     
  9. six_eclectic_chickens

    six_eclectic_chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    4
    91
    Oct 2, 2011
    string fishing line between trees, your house, fences, etc. When a hawk hits it they don't come back
     
  10. FiFiFeather

    FiFiFeather Out Of The Brooder

    53
    0
    29
    Jul 21, 2011
    North Washtenaw County
    I LOVE the fishing line idea. It's the trickster in me! [​IMG]

    The hawk was back this morning. I was outside with the girls & dogs in the chicken run & the crows ran off the hawk. I saw them chase it over the hill. I stayed out a few more minutes (with the business end of the rake over my shoulder in the air--I am almost superstitious! Somebody talk me down from the ledge!) then put them back in the coop. I've done that a few times today (had them outside with me).

    I'm not sure if they understand the dog is there to protect them, but the hens are not being peckish after the dog like they usually are. They are a lot more comfortable with the dog in their run today. Boy, do they watch the sky, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by