EEEEEEEE! Hawk attacked!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SeaChick, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Wow, my heart is racing. I had let the girls out in the yard.... mind you we are in an EXTREMELY tight suburban neighborhood, and all the girls are adult-size standard hens..... and was keeping an eye on them from the office window. I had just, 5 minutes before, been musing "hmmm, wonder if a hawk would ever attack adult hens?" but not really worried about it. WEll----- must have been some premonition because suddenly there was a loud screech from one of the girls and I looked out to see a small hawk swooping down and then flapping away.

    I ran out in my bathrobe and stocking feet (it's about 35 degrees out!) and rounded everone back to the coop. They'd sheltered under a bush and were terrified. I checked everyone and there do not seem to be any injuries.

    This hawk was SMALL.... maybe 2/3 the size of my smallest girl and half the size of the largest. Is that normal for a small hawk to attack a big bird? Was it really attacking? Does this mean I can't let them out unless I am there with them?

    Wow, that was scary.
  2. Windy Ridge

    Windy Ridge Songster

    Oct 3, 2007
    How scary! I'm so glad none of your girls was hurt.

    Most hawks are migratory, and move a lot in the fall and spring. If I were you--and I don't know if this is good advice or not--but if I were you, I'd keep my girls in for a day or two to see if the hawk is hanging around or not. Since he didn't get a meal, he may not be hanging around, and he may have just swooped in as he was passing over.

    Of course even if he's moved on, it doesn't mean you won't have the possibility of another hawk some time. You can either keep them in a covered, fortified run that nothing can get in or out of--many people do--or you can let them free range and try to be alert... and accept that you'll occasionally have losses.

    I free range mine, and I'm scared for them. On the other hand, I know the ground they're on is healthy because they're not confined in a small run (a mobile tractor is great, though, for keeping the range of confined chickens fresh), and I feel like they have fewer problems with aggressive behavior. Goodness, I have 8 roosters right now, and somehow no problems among them.

    But it's all a trade off. I might feel differently when I lose my favorite bird, but I hope I don't. It's just a matter of what you think is best for your situation. We have lots of space, and I'd like my chickens to be able to take advantage of that, and I like being able to spend time with the chickens without having to duck my head in a low run, or stick my arm through a cage. Other people's chickens may have the advantage of an absolutely secure run, which is a good thing, too. (Maybe the chickens of very wealthy people have both [​IMG] )

    Again, I'm very glad none of your girls was hurt, and I hope the hawk isn't hanging around!
  3. 3peeps

    3peeps Songster

    Jul 4, 2007
    I had one that small interested in my little flock a few weeks ago. It was a similar situation...I had just been thinking about it. I quickly scooped two of them up and sort of scooted one with my foot. An interesting sight to say the least with all the flapping.

    One thing I noticed is that the girls almost always see this stuff before me and often run for cover. We have a picnic table in the yard that they run to and I now make sure the run door is wide open so they can quickly hide.

    I'm of the opinion that they are never 100% safe. But they need to get out and I just do my best.
  4. 3peeps

    3peeps Songster

    Jul 4, 2007
    P.S. I should add that most of the time, my girls are in the run, and I let them out for long "walks" quite frequently.

    I agree with Windy's philosophy, and personally, if we lived on more land, I'd get more girls and just let them free range. I think the quality of life is better and the eggs are simply the best. But, since we have a small yard, we do what we can and everyone seems fine.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2007
  5. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Thanks guys-

    My situation is like yours, 3peeps. We have a TINY yard. The 6 girls have a covered run about 11 x 6, which they are in most of the time. But they really complain LOUDLY to be let out, and enjoy it SO much, so usually I let them out for an hour or so in the morning, keeping an eye on them from inside, and then most days I will let them out when I am working in the garden near them for a little while in the afternoon.

    Obviously I can't let them out by themselves in the AM anymore, although I am heartened by Windy Ridge's info that the hawk might just be passing through. Now that you mention it, pretty much the only time I see hawks around here is in the spring and fall, so maybe that's right.

    I will feel really sad for the girls if they can't be let out. On the other hand, we have 6 girls and love them all as pets, and (most important) Olivia has had a REALLY unlucky bad-luck run of losing pets this fall (snake and fish died, pullet Hazel re-homed, hen Penelope has health issues) and I think it would be horrible if she lost another...... so I really MUST keep them safe.

    I'm just shocked that such a SMALL hawk would attack!

    I was reading the other hawk threads and folk talked about stringing fishing line up. How close together does it need to be? We have a few trees I could attach it to, but not a whole wall of trees.....

  6. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Even if the hawk is small, if he thinks he can attack and kill the prey then he'll sit there and eat whatever he can and then fly away with his full stomach even if he's too small to fly away with whatever he caught.

    Plus, it's time of year for fledged young hawks to be out on their own learning how to be efficient hunters. From lack of experience or desperation, he just might come back for another try at your girls.

    I'd keep a close eye on them for a few days just to see if the hawk hangs around or moves on...
  7. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    I had a similar situation a few weeks ago: an immature Cooper's Hawk swooped down on my girls while I was leading them back to their run. Just like you, I live in a suburban area with a small backyard.

    I honestly think it was a juvenile who just wasn't experienced and was coming down for a closer look. Just like in your case, the hawk was smaller than my chickens were even back then. I suppose its possible he or she could have carried it off, but it would have been a struggle I think.

    Since that one time, the hawk has come around a few times for a look but has always moved on without coming down closer. I'm hoping this means he won't try again! The good news is, the girls were frightened and learned a good lesson; so now whenever birds are flying over (The crows are always flapping around) they freeze or duck for cover.

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