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Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by LoriLovesLace, May 6, 2017.
My Grandmother told me they only get chicks. And so far so good.
They can if they get hungry enough.
Our local hawks can and have killed adult chickens.
Yes!!! They do so be careful! My hawks only ever got my adult chickens.......... they do NOT kill only chicks. Who they go for has nothing to do with the size of the poultry, because my biggest chicken was taken by a hawk when it could have prayed on a smaller, easier target.
I have kept chickens around hawks for long enough to see a pattern. Raptors in my location also similar to yours. The hawks you have that are capable and inclined to take down chickens one on one include the following, Red-tailed Hawk, Coopers Hawk, Goshawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk. The last species will do so only rarely. Other species such as Red-shouldered and Broadwinged have yet to go after my birds, despite the former being the one coming into most frequent close proximity to my flocks. Accounts to the contrary with those species left me questioning hawk species ID.
The hawks can make kills much easier when there is no interference by another animal. As a general rule, the hawks are size selective where they target the smaller birds in a clock. The size selectivity is particularly important with the Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawk where chicks and juvenile standard sized fowl are taken first. In my setting chicks are immune despite their smaller size because the hen takes the hawk on and cause a hawk harm very quickly if the hawk is committed to grappling with a chick to kill it. Chicks without momma to protect them are at extreme risk. I have kept mature roosters with orphaned chicks to shut down hawk issues. Juveniles, small ones in particular are much more vulnerable. Again, in my setting they can be protected by fully mature roosters that are in good feather as they go after hawks on the ground and already going after something else. There is a seasonal component where during the fall the roosters in molt and before winter solstice will often not engage even a puny Sharp-shinned Hawk. I have had juvenile chickens attack Coopers Hawk in the ground, although I have lost similar sized juveniles to hawks of the same size attacked.
Hawk size varies even within a species and that impacts things as well. Even individual hawks differ. I have some really cool observations with Coopers Hawks of late and really come to feel comfortable managing against losses from those birds without loss of chickens or hawks.
They absolutely kill adult birds. I have lost two this year to hawks and I know they were hawks as my outdoor camera captured it all. I had an owl for the first time this year too. All during the daytime with electric fence, bird netting, reflective distractions, scarecrows, deterrent owls, etc. Other poultry owners share the same story every year. If they can't pick them up, they just kill and eat them in the yard.
Red tails haven't earned the nickname chickenhawk out of mere coincidence. I usually see them eating rabbits when in the hayfield. They've killed numerous yard cats of mine as well. Full grown ones.