Do buzzards take chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Rotorranch, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. Rotorranch

    Rotorranch Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm wondering if buzzards will take live chickens. We have had an awful lot of black buzzards lately, in fact I lost count at over 100 in the trees in my backyard earlier this spring. I'm wondering if it's buzzards, or hawks.

    So far, I have had 4 chickens disappear this year, all during daylight hours... a RIR Rooster and one of my barred rock hens vanished earlier this spring, another one of my barred rock hens about a month and a half ago, and yesterday, my newest hen, a production red. The last 2 were within 20-30 feet of the house, one in the driveway... at least that's where I found all the feathers. I saw no animal tracks at all around the area.

    This morning, while looking for Red, I heard a hawk calling from the trees near my house. Also saw half a dozen buzzards circling the yard at fairly low altitude.


    The only two hens I have left are about to go crazy being locked down in the coop. They love to free range!


    I guess I'm gonna have to go Rambo on the buzzards and hawks around here. I'm thinking one Super Black Eagle beats a buzzard or a hawk hands down!


    [​IMG]


    Rotor
     
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Buzzards or vultures in the United States are scavengers. It seems surprising that you saw it take one of your chickens. That is so bad in a bird that is not known for that behavior. What is called a buzzard in Europe is a raptor, the same as a hawk or eagle.

    For what it's worth, vultures are a protected species in the the US.

    Chris
     
  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    Uncommon for a vulture (buzzard) to take live prey.

    But they can definitely be attracted to a chicken carcass left behind by the predator that killed it.
     
  4. Muffinburgler

    Muffinburgler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's highly impossible that a buzzard (turkey vulture, really. Buzzard is an incorrect slang term for vultures) took your chicken. They just aren't built for that sort of thing. They don't have the muscles to carry a chicken, and don't have the feet to grasp. They're built to sit on top of a carcass and eat that before waddling away.

    It's most likely a hawk that's doing the killing. Either way, do NOT shoot any any of the birds you see near your flock. Vultures and all raptors are protected in all 50 states, and killing one will get you in serious trouble with the law.


    The only way you can protect your flock from aerial predators is by putting something over their run, like netting.
     
  5. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Tn
    I agree. Vultures, which eat carrion, tend to follow larger predators in hopes of cleaning up their leavings. If you've heard a hawk calling, chances are pretty high that that's the bird hitting your chicken buffet.
    They may not like being shut inside the coop, but its a great idea until the predator decides to move on and eat elsewhere.
     
  6. Rotorranch

    Rotorranch Out Of The Brooder

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    The buzzards I'm talking about aren't the normal red headed "turkey buzzard" or vulture you normally associate with buzzards, but a different breed that does seem to be a problem, from what I've googled.

    [​IMG]

    The gregarious black vulture roosts, feeds, and soars in groups, often mixed with turkey vultures. A carrion feeder that will bully a turkey vulture away from a carcass, it occasionally kills smaller live prey. Polytypic (3 ssp.; nominate in North America). Length 25" (64 cm); wingspan 57" (145 cm).
    Identification Adult: glossy black feathers can show iridescence in the right light. Whitish inner primaries often hard to see on the folded wing. Whitish legs contrast with dark gray head color. Skin of head wrinkled; bill dark at base and tipped ivory or yellowish. Juvenile: black body and wing feathers usually duller, less iridescent. Skin of head smooth, darker black than an adult. Flight: conspicuous white or silvery patches at base of primaries that contrast with black wings, body, and tail. Whitish legs extend almost to tip of relatively short tail. Soars and glides with wings held in a slight dihedral. If seen at a distance, the quick, shallow, choppy wingbeats interspersed with glides are usually enough for an identification.
    Similar Species The turkey vulture shows silvery inner secondaries and a pronounced dihedral while in flight, along with a deeper, more fluid wingbeat.
    Voice Hisses when threatened.
    Status and Distribution Abundant in the Southeast, expanding up the East Coast into southern New England. Less common in southern Great Plains, local in southern Arizona. Breeding: nests in a sheltered area on the ground, including abandoned buildings. Migration: sedentary, northern breeders, may migrate with turkey vultures to warmer winter territory. Vagrant: casual to California, northern New England, and southern Canada.
    Population The species adapts well to human presence, feeding on roadkills and at garbage dumps.
    —From the National Geographic book Complete Birds of North America, 2006

    http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/black-vulture/


    A reference to the buzzards killing livestock:
    Black vultures are slightly smaller than turkey vultures and have a black head, whereas the more common turkey vulture has a reddish head, he said.
    What sets the two species apart most is their behavior, Gehrt said.
    Turkey vultures are mild-mannered and timid, the expert explained, and tend to scavenge on dead animals and roadkill. Black vultures, on the other hand, can be aggressive and will kill living animals, such as lambs and calves on farms, and groundhogs and other wild animals.

    http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/black-vulture-kills-increasing-in-ohio/9360.html

    These are the vultures that have been roosting here by the hundreds, and the ones I saw circling earlier today, NOT turkey buzzards.

    So I guess I may have answered my own question... either way, what's left of my flock will be on permanent lock down... I don't want to lose any more of my chickens.
    [​IMG]

    Rotor
     
  7. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I've seen other post about black vultures, and them being worried about them for the same reasons. Apparently I've got them where I am as well, and have never had an issue that I know of. But, my neighbor has this nasty habit of deer hunting year round and leaving gut piles everywhere, so I suspect they're well fed :/
    Its still probably best to keep the chickens penned until they move along. You could make a cheap tractor, at least that way they'd still have access to grass and bugs but would still be protected from flying preds.
     
  8. KentuckyMom

    KentuckyMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here in KY they were working on legislation at one point to allow farmers to shoot the black vultures because there is such a problem with them. A friend who raises cattle said that they will wait ( roosting on nearby trees) until a calf is born and then eat their eyes out, nothing else, just their eyes. I also read that they remember to stay away from a place if you frighten them off. We had one that would perch on a nearby telephone pole and watch our outside kittens. Once I learned their reputation I chased it away and haven't seen it since. They are creepy when they perch in trees in big groups.
     
  9. Rotorranch

    Rotorranch Out Of The Brooder

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    I do know that the Black buzzard is not nearly as shy as the turkey vulture. I had about a dozen of them sitting in the driveway! Our ornery RIR rooster "Elvis" was out there posturing and raising hell at them. I came out of the house to see what the ruckus was, and got within about 10 feet from the buzzards before they flew across the street into the trees. I was hollering and waving at them as I headed towards them, and it didn't seem to bother them in the least.

    It's a shame I've lost so many birds this year, and now am afraid to let my birds loose. There's no way I can let the youngsters out, let alone the grown hens.

    I'll be looking at options to keep them safe.

    Rotor
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  10. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    If you've got 2 metal pie pans (the disposable kind), they make alot of noise when you bang them together. I keep 2 in my coop for when I catch hawks watching from the trees. Whack them together and they send birds flying. They might at least make enough racket to run the buzzards off...
     

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