Do hawks always hunt chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jmtcmkb, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. jmtcmkb

    jmtcmkb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2011
    New Hampshire
    If I can see hawks in the area is it always a threat? We have an enclosed coop and covered run, but we fenced in an area around the let them free range a bit. This outer area is not covered. I see hawks every day as we live adjacent to a large field. I know there are people all around us in this area that free range their chickens. My poor chickens enjoyed 2 days of roaming freely then I spotted the hawks, and now I am scared, so I have them cooped up again....

    The area is too large to cover easily with netting, but is this my best option? Poor hubby spent the weekend putting up welded wire fencing and now I'm not sure we can let them enjoy it [​IMG]

    I dont know why but I am unable to respond to this thread, so I am using the edit funtion to respond to all of your advice:

    thanks to all you have been very helpful. Yesterday I ordered some bird nettting for when I choose to let them out in this contained area. Until then I am going to watch them like a "hawk" so to speak when I let them out. I cant tell what species we have around here but I do know they are abundant. I live adjacent to a very large field that is lined with tall pine trees and I'm pretty sure that is where they nest. But like I said I see free ranging chickens within a 1/2 mile of here every day. Maybe I will get out some binoculars and see if I can determine what kind of hawks we have. I'm confused a bit by the crow remarks, we also have many crows around here, do they co-exist in the same territory?
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  2. Lizz9311

    Lizz9311 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2012
    Central Massachusetts
    Unfortunately, I don't have any insight. However, I do wish to know the same thing. We're the ONLY people with chickens in our immediate area. I was just outside caring for our birds when I noticed the first hawk I've seen in this area.
  3. BusyBlonde

    BusyBlonde Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 18, 2011
    Bessemer City, NC
    We live in a rural area with a healthy hawk population - I know where two nests are very close to our home. We also have our chickens in pens that do not have roofs, and we have never lost a chicken. A few weeks ago, we were sitting on our deck, and heard a huge ruckus coming from the grow-out pen - a hawk had flown into the pen, and was on the ground UNDER the chickens. Our 5-month old chickens (13 of them) attacked the hawk! The hawk made it out of the pen, and I'll bet it doesn't try that again, LOL. I have no desire to see such a beautiful bird harmed, but it was funny to see the chickens get the best of the hawk.
  4. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2011
    Milner, Georgia
    My chickens free range all day with a number of hawks around here all the time. Two nest I know of, and as of yet have had no problems. The chickens seem to have gotten so used to them the don't pay a lot attention to um anymore. The rooster watches but the chickens go on digging and scratching. Could be with me outside most of the time that makes a difference. I don't know. But I've not seen on hawk even take an interesting look at the chickens.
  5. BuffOrpington88

    BuffOrpington88 Non-Stop

    Mar 20, 2012
    You can try some reflective tape that crackles in the wind. I am not sure how well it works. It is sold by the Nite-Guard company.
  6. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    To answer your question, not all hawks (or falcons or other raptors that people think are hawks) have any interest in hunting chickens. Amongst those that do enjoy a chicken meal, even then they are not always hunting.

    To better answer your question, it'd be necessary to identify the hawk species you are seeing commonly. Where you live, it could be a number of different species... also bearing in mind that birds are still migrating right now (and many hawks are migratory!).

    Even still, the best way to deal with hawk predation is prevention of course. There are a bunch of threads with ideas for how to reduce hawk predation if you search for 'hawk'. Some people swear by reflective objects, scarecrows, watch-roosters, etc. Some people insist that none of these have helped them. The only true 100% way to keep a hawk from killing a chicken is to make it so that it can't get at them, but of course this sacrifices free ranging. There are compromises you can make, and if you research you should be able to find something in your comfort zone of risk. :)
  7. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    The majority of hawks do not bother adult chickens. A very large hawk is still under 3 pounds in weight and a full size chicken is simply out of their prey size. They eat mice and birds the size of sparrows.

    There are a few species of large hawks that will take a chicken. They can kill them but can't move them very far, so they will eat them on the ground where they killed them.

    If you have large hawks that will kill a chicken, the only thing that is guaranteed to keep your chickens safe is to pen them in an area with a top on it. Let them out only when you can stay with them to watch over them.

    I've got some bitty hawks, Merlins mostly, about the size of a robin. They go right into my coop after mice and sparrows. Believe me, they are never going to make an attempt at a 10 pound duck. They aren't much bigger than the Appleyard drake's head.
  8. RaeRae2

    RaeRae2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 28, 2011
    I cannot agree with this, unfortunately. The Red Tails have killed nearly every chicken I have tried to raise over the years on this farm. Holy cow, I would say I have lost 30+ chickens to the Red Tails. If they can't pick them up and carry them off, they will just sit right there on the ground and eat them. And all of these have been big heavy breeds, mostly RIR, Austrolorp, Black Giants, and Leghorn mixes. And 2 banties that lasted 1 day on this farm before they were eaten. It got so bad that I gave away the last of my hens and only kept the 2 that rarely leave the barn, and are extremely hawk-savvy. But now that I have babies, we are building a 20x27 foot fully enclosed run. I will NOT let these pullets outside until that run is finished and they're safely inside of it.

    Smaller hawks I don't know anything about. The only raptors I've ever seen here are Red Tails and Northern Harriers. I don't think I will ever turn chickens loose to free range again unless I am out there with them the entire time. I cannot count how many times I bought new hens, brought them home, and bam, within a few weeks, eaten by hawks.

    I saw a Red Tail chase one of my hens into the barn, and then he sat on top of the silo waiting for her to come back out. They bring their young here every spring to teach them how to hunt. Well not any more. The era of free range chickens has come to a close!

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  9. MEchickenfarmer33

    MEchickenfarmer33 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2011
    ive had a hawk land on top of our chickens run and stay there for 5 minutes while the chickens just stood there and watched the hawk. I see them once in a while at my house, but we have a good crow population that keeps the hawks driven away.
  10. Coopershawk

    Coopershawk Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 6, 2012
    if a hawk will attack a chicken depends on 5 factors, Size of pray compared to hawk, How hungry is the hawk, Approach the hawk has Available, species of hawk, age of hawk,
    now let me explain this to you. normally 2 most diurnal Birds of prey that will attack chickens or most Fowl is RedTail hawk and Coopers Hawk others do attack just less common,
    Size of Pray Compared to hawk, a Coopers hawk wont even attempt a larger chicken but will take on smaller breeds(Depending on how hungry they are), Redtails will try almost any size Chicken But there Slow so you can Make there approach less suitable which will give your chickens a greater chance of escape and evade.

    How hungry is the hawk, a starving hawk will go suicidal on a bird 10x bigger then them, 75 80% of first year hawks die in the first year due to starvation, Man, Larger hawks, Disease (non are human contagious) and even killed by pray will we will get in to that on age of hawk , During the summer when pray is Very abundant your chance of loseing a chicken to a hawk decreases
    Greatly, but around Oct to Nov during migration and when most pray left has got smarter birds get hungry and they will try stuff they normally would not which lead to lost fowl.

    Approach the hawk has available, most hawks wont attempts a long flight (note im not Referring Falcons Which will not normally attempt chickens) Referring to Buteos and Accipiters
    Approach is the path and the cover the hawk has to reach the pray before its alerted, Long flights give reduced chance of success for the hawk and they don't want to waste energy on missed flights so they wont attempt 90% of the time all comes back to hunger, if your free ranging your chickens keep them away from wood lines, or a solid wall over 4' with no sight through it,lone standing trees in a field these tend to hold redtails alot waiting on rabbits and mice your lose more to goshawks and coopers close to wood lines, Low cover no more then 2 1/2 feet tall like bushes shrubs or hides for them to take cover yet dosnt impair the sight of a incoming hawk. if your birds get sight and start running there is a greater chance of them surviving the hawk will have a less chance of geting a good hold on a running chicken rather then a stationery one,

    species of hawk, there are about 208 species of hawks in the world but only about 7 types will attempt a chicken (not including Eagles as i do not have much experience with them) these include Coopers, Redtail, Furreginous, Redshoulder hawk(smaller chickens), Goshawk (only if you live up north or in the mountains), Harris Hawk(mainly confined To Texas newmexico), Great Horned owl,

    Age of bird, this is probably the biggest defining factor if its a Adult it normally would not attempt a chicken for hawks they really are not that nutritious for hawks, they perfer darker meat birds like ducks, but for a first year hawk they do not know better its like a teenager they think they can take on more then they can most will attempt once get hurt by the chicken or miss to many times and give up but they do get lucky those are the ones you lose the reality is your chickens probably get attacked daily but hawks are only 5% successful on there chases

    if you pay attention to the approach that hawks might have on your property and adjust it you can Reduce number of attacks and lost fowl provide low cover for chickens to allow them to evade
    and hide Hope this helps
    Jenjee and Nerdc0reRizing like this.

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