Cooper's Hawks - anyone have experience with?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jjthink, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    I have a nesting pair not even 30 feet from the coop (naturally). For some reason my roo seems unconcerned and he usually worries about everything - phase of the moon, stock market, you name it. His hen friend could not be more oblivious.

    In contrast to my feathered friends, I've been fretting a lot and keeping them in lockdown in their small covered run (she screams to get out and I have neighbors I have to worry about with the noise she makes in captivity!) or I closely supervise them free ranging - very difficult to do enough of that with my job. Bottom line - very unhappy chickens and their person (me) isn't getting any work done what with standing over them when I am home.

    So I am curious about Cooper's and chickens. In another thread, a writer said they do have problems with Cooper's... Here I was, worried about red-tailed hawks but from what I understand now, Cooper's are better at navigating through trees to reach their mark, so even when my roo and hen are near or under cover, I don't know..... What I'm trying to assess is how likely they are to go after a bird the size of a 4-6 pound chicken. I will still likely err on the side of caution - just trying to see what I can learn about this particular hawk and it's habits. It's spring here in Jersey and food sources are probably plentiful but then again, KFC is right outside their door.......

    Thanks for any insights/experiences.
    JJ
     
  2. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Indiana
    Quote:[​IMG]


    Sorry I don't have any expertise in this area, but nearly spit my cookies across the room when I read your post. [​IMG]
     
  3. chickensista

    chickensista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi,
    I had a Cooper's take my white silkie last fall. She didn't fly off with it - I found it enjoying its meal in the chicken run. Not sure if they will go after the bigger girls or not. I have read that they will chase their prey on the ground, under bushes, etc.
    I've been seeing hawks everywhere lately. Especially red-tails. Maybe my "hawk sense" is up since getting chickens.
    Good luck,
    Terry
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I had what I think was a coopers hawk kill two silkies and a polish... I make sure I have birds that can see now and no fences with plenty of area for them to run and hide. In addition, after the hawk tried to eat my broody's baby, and got a beating from momma hen twice, haven't had a problem. I think its a good thing to keep an eye out for your birds as they can catch a smaller one off guard. However, with the hawk sitting in the tree a lot still, my roo only seems to make a fuss when he thinks the bird is out for a meal. Better safe than sorry.
     
  5. farm_mom

    farm_mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have Coopers Hawks here. They love eating birds at my bird feeder, but have never bothered my chickens. But, I have always had standard sized breeds and don't let them free range until they're big enough.
     
  6. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Terry and silkiechicken, so sorry about your losses. [​IMG] And wow, about momma hen beating the hawk up, twice no less! Once prey does not act like prey, I think they stand a good chance. The hawk probably said "Holy moly - that looked like prey but it was a demon!"

    Angie, very interesting info also. Maybe a 5+ pound bird is just too much for Cooper's - I can only hope. Maybe this would explain why BJ roo is hardly ruffled about the whole thing - maybe he knows something I don't? He scolds the sky when he sees them but then goes about his business (or Annie's business, really - she rules the roost). When one of the Cooper's parents came flying their way yesterday I lunged to protect them but it was just flying overhead and I don't think they were the target (at least not with me there...).

    I'm pretty sure I saw one of the Cooper's parents bring food to the nest last night - it was dusk but I think there was something small hanging from her mouth that the other parent handed off to her when they met in a nearby branch and had a conversation. So, .... they've hatched. When I was standing guard over BJ and Annie for some free range time yesterday I also saw a fresh carcass of a bird, picked pretty clean - looked to be pigeon sized....tho no pigeons here...

    I've e-mailed some falconry groups to see what insights they might have. Nothing like the personal experience of BYCers though.

    Thank you. JJ

    Edited to say p.s. Sharp-shinned hawks look a lot like Cooper's but are smaller. It can be very hard to distinguish a male Cooper's from a female Sharpie. The females are larger than males so the smaller male Cooper's can approximate the size of the female sharpie. Sharpies will eat smaller prey.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have them here and they're fearsome hunters, preferring birds as food. They are patient and will scout out a region and build where food sources intersect with a safe place to nest, usually near a brook or pond. They will use water sources, even watering troughs, to drown their prey, strangling it and then holding it under. We can't interfere with them or other raptors so we have to provide roofed biosecurity. We feed wild birds and they occasionally use our property for hunting, so I'm assuming they'd attack our new chicks.

    I believe you're in their major migration route, too. Sorry is has to be so difficult, you're going to need more roofing or netting...

    http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Coopers_Hawk.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  8. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    For some reason my roo seems unconcerned and he usually worries about everything - phase of the moon, stock market, you name it. His hen friend could not be more oblivious.

    LOL, Judy!

    I'm always listening for the birds to disappear and to hear the hawk calling.
    Hawks will eat the songbirds too...I'd rather THEM eat my birds than a dog or cat though.

    Pleae let us know what the raptor groups have to say.​
     
  9. chickensista

    chickensista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Edited to say p.s. Sharp-shinned hawks look a lot like Cooper's but are smaller. It can be very hard to distinguish a male Cooper's from a female Sharpie. The females are larger than males so the smaller male Cooper's can approximate the size of the female sharpie. Sharpies will eat smaller prey

    I looked at some websites - I'm certainly no birding expert ,so it could have been either bird that took my girl. Either way, end result was me getting in gear with some overhead protection for the girls. I'll be doing a lot of tweeking on the run this summer!
    Thanks for the info.
    Terry​
     
  10. BearSwampChick

    BearSwampChick Chicken Sensei

    Jan 10, 2008
    Marysville, OH
    Edited to say p.s. Sharp-shinned hawks look a lot like Cooper's but are smaller. It can be very hard to distinguish a male Cooper's from a female Sharpie. The females are larger than males so the smaller male Cooper's can approximate the size of the female sharpie. Sharpies will eat smaller prey.

    Cooper's hawks have a rounded tail and sharp-shinned hawks' tails are straight across the end. Hope this helps. [​IMG]
     

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