Defending Against Coopers Hawk When Cover Limited


Crossing the Road
14 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
This morning I was sitting inside near back door watching free ranging flock of two adults (rooster and hen; both American game) and 9 juveniles. They got all riled up, rooster and hen cackled and stood tall and juveniles moved to form tighter group between adults and house. All were looking into black walnut tree with trunk base about 30 feet away. An adult female Coopers hawk had just landed their and was surveying flock. The juveniles are still vulnerable to a female Coopers hawk. The adult chickens appeared to be standing off the hawk in effort to protect their offspring. Hawk watched for a minute or so before flying away. If hawk would have pressed, the rooster and probably the hen would have attacked it. Even hen is nearly double hawks weight so attack would cause hawk damage very quickly. Normally juveniles would move into cover but in this situation, they could not get to it without getting away from protection of adults. Coopers I see so frequently but seldom suffer losses to them. That is unless chicks are not attended by hen or hen with chicks is out in open without rooster around. Juveniles are vulnerable when not attended by rooster (must be father or probably so). My adult games seem to have no worries in respect to their own safety around Coopers hawks but my smaller adult red jungle fowl are definantly on menu so size does matter.

Figure shows house, tree with hawk (red spot), rooster (E), hen (S) and chicks (green dots).

I am still not confident my dominiques if similar social grouping would be able to protect juveniles. Next year, similar such flocks will be setup to see how durable social structure is and if prolonged investment in juveniles occurs.
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