Guineas and hawks

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by Mixed flock enthusiast, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Chirping

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    May 21, 2018
    Stillwater, OK
    I feel like a hand-wringer to keep posting about my guineas, but I really appreciate everyone’s help! So, I removed six guineas, leaving a flock of 9 with probably only one, lavender male. After the traumatic capture of the six rehomed guineas, I left the nine remaining penned up (12x14 ft run and 8x6 ft coop) so that they would use the coop a few times to offset any perception that it is dangerous, and so they could rework their new flock dynamics in safety. Planned to start free range again tomorrow AM, after two nights penned. However, came home to a Cooper’s hawk stationed over the coop yesterday. Now I’m afraid to let the guineas out tomorrow. However, keeping them penned with chickens after another predator attack may have contributed to their behavior problems with chickens and ducks. Chickens and ducks are separated from guineas now by wire. So far, guineas have stuck very close to coop when free ranging; coop is at border of forest in one side, prairie on the other, with entry on prairie side. So... how long should I keep guineas penned? Release tomorrow and hope they will be hawk savvy? Or pen for a few weeks and hope the hawk leaves? Note that I’m in Oklahoma, where Coopers and red-tailed hawks are abundant in winter...
     
  2. southwind00

    southwind00 In the Brooder

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    Hi Mixed, I'm new to the Guinea world having only 20 or so weeks with my ten birds and I feel your pain. I understand how these crazy birds can get under your skin and that you feel their survival is all dependent on you. I have though been an amateur falconer most of my life always wanting to get my license but never having the time. It started when I was young and had a pigeon coop and raced them as a hobby. It seemed my best birds would always be taken by a Coopers hawk and watching as the flock would be circling the coop for its final descent the hawk would come and blast the pigeon into an explosion of feathers. Chilling , scary but as natural as life it's self. I never really blamed the hawk even though I was super disappointed. I have asked on here a couple times what kind of hawks are getting people's guineas and under what circumstances. I realize some young keets out in the yard are prime dinner for a Coopers hawk and even a Red tail but full grown guineas are twice the size of the typical female Coopers hawk and hardly anything in my experience they would risk in getting injured doing. Redtails are bigger and being more of a small mammal hawk a keet would offer a tempting target but Redtails are way more shy than Coopers and attacking in someone's yard is not there usual way. This all being said I would love to hear from somebody who has had a full grown Guinea taken by a hawk. Hawks don't kill for pleasure and usually eat most of what they kill, unless scared away. Now, Great Horn Owls, they'll take anything that walks or flies and size does not intimidate them. I hope we get more responses, good luck.
     
  3. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Chirping

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    Hi Southwind, that’s funny that you are skeptical of a Cooper’s, as I was just reading another thread with a falconer who was skeptical of hawk attack! I have no first had knowledge, but if you search BYCs, you’ll find many posts of hawk attacks, including Coopers, like: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/hawks-finally-did-it.839278/#post-12372126
    My own experience was carefully (I thought) supervised free ranging of chickens two weeks ago, when a Coopers came out of nowhere are dived at a solitary hen. The hawk missed or pulled up, and I just caught a glimpse as it flew in and off. I’m sure that was a Coopers - so amazingly fast and agile, like an arrow shot from a bow, with a distinctly long and striped tail, crow sized. The bird yesterday could have been a red shouldered hawk, as it was again a quick look and it seemed kind of big. I saw the long, striped tail and striking barred/striped underwing pattern but didn’t catch whether stripes were narrow or broad to distinguish. If it was a Coopers, it was female (large) and juvenile, with that very distinct barred pattern. I’m guessing Coopers because I tend to overestimate bird size, because it was an agile flyer, and because I had recently seen that Cooper’s nearby. I’ve always loved watching hawks, but am finding a whole new anxiety in Oklahoma’s abundance of raptors!
     
  4. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Chirping

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    May 21, 2018
    Stillwater, OK
    Update: we had many many hawks and vultures migrating overhead, so I ended up making a hawk tee pee shelter for the guineas to hide under. So far, they view the shelter mostly with caution...
     

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  5. Biddybot

    Biddybot Chirping

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    Aug 4, 2018
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    Okay, redirected myself from the chicken side of things... As I posted there, my guineas never had a problem seeing off the raptors we have in Nova Scotia and that one quasi-attack I witnessed, with the hawk dropping down out of a spruce tree to try and spook a guinea family into scattering, didn't end too well for the hawk, since the male guinea came forward and was willing to fight. I just checked some photos and believe it was a goshawk that was involved that time. I remember being impressed that the male guinea was willing to take on a hawk that stood just as tall as himself...it was a touch bigger than a crow and seemed quite substantial. Anyway, ended in a stalemate at best and I can't recall a single other incident of any raptor genuinely threatening my own guineas, either adults or young, let alone succeeding in killing one. I also don't know anybody who's lost a guinea to a raptor, at least not hereabouts. Maybe they look too odd or move too differently compared to the fowl the local raptors are much more used to, the ruffed grouse and ring-necked pheasants that are actually fairly common where I live? Or maybe they're just really put off by the way guineas scream at them. I never saw a sitting raptor that lasted long once they'd been spotted by the guineas and vocally harassed and cursed at by the entire milling flock. Kind of like owls being mobbed by crows. They usually move on too, to try and find thicker, better concealing evergreens to sit in.

    I do remember seeing a home video once of an eagle--bald, I think?--standing over the body of an adult guinea that it had reportedly just killed in the yard of the person videoing the action. And honestly, that's the ONLY case of an adult guinea being taken by a raptor that I know of...presuming the video was for real and not just a case of an already dead bird being tossed out and a passing eagle dropping down to enjoy some tasty carrion!

    The teepee looks good, like a game bird shelter. Try scattering some white millet seed near and in the shelter to overcome your guineas' caution. Mine used to be absolutely nutz about white millet. It was like their version of crack or something, the way white bread is like crack to the chickens.
     
  6. R2elk

    R2elk Free Ranger

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    Owls are also raptors although night hunters. I lost my whole first flock of guineas to Great Horned Owls.
     
  7. southwind00

    southwind00 In the Brooder

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    The teepee looks great Mixed, but I know my birds would freak out for half a day then maybe get kind of use to it. And I can't argue with Biddybot about goshawks I didn't know what was getting all the rabbits a couple winters ago til I saw a goshawk on my trail cam on the late season deer carcasses I put out. They migrate down this way along with Rough legged hawks when winter food is scarce. With the occasional Great horned and goshawk this winter might be interesting.
     
  8. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Chirping

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    May 21, 2018
    Stillwater, OK
    Thanks! They will tentatively go into the tee pee for scratch now, but they aren’t really comfortable with it yet. Goshawks are uncommon here, but we have red tailed, Cooper’s and sharp shinned hawks. One of the guineas is favoring an eye, probably from the whole hanging itself during my disastrous capture of them night. Plus, they seem to have forgotten how to go into the coop to roost. In and out all day for food and water but just standing outside it in the downpour. The last two nights, I’ve had to chase them off the coop roof and herd them to the coop chunnel (another of my many mistakes; it is really difficult to herd guineas up a chunnel!). One wouldn’t go up tonight and totally freaked out as it got darker and stormier; I had to have my daughter out helping in the lightning and rain. They really need to figure things out or I need to give up on them! I’ve been saying this for a good month... I am stupidly stubborn, but they may be more stubborn.
     
  9. southwind00

    southwind00 In the Brooder

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    As I mentioned in an earlier post when I was young my brother and I had a pigeon coop and an old farmer or my mom would drive us up to 30 miles away and release our birds with other coop's birds and they would circle once or twice and bang like an arrow they would start flying back. Crazy as it sounds some would beat us back just to be pacing back and forth not wanting to go into the trap( the bars that hung down so they could go in but the birds inside couldn't get out) and then some of the slower birds would land and bam, shoot right in. So like pigeons, i'm learning guineas know where they are they just get hung up on the final move in. I have quit trying to herd my birds in , it tends to get them more excited and confused(which they don't need) and just trust( like I did the pigeons) that they will coop. I've left a light out ther and so far every evening about 9 or so I go out and they are all in, sometimes I watch them getting frustrated but they make there way in. I've also started grounding them when they don't go in at night but go in during the day I close the coop up and let them ponder (lol) their situation. Maybe a day or two in then back out , they don't seem to range as far and it seems to be working. Learning everyday about these crazy birds.
     
  10. R2elk

    R2elk Free Ranger

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    Herding guineas when done properly does not cause any stress. I can herd my guineas in at any time of the day. Waiting until too late can cause issues since they don't like to go into dark places. They do learn from repetition. Mine are at the point that all I have to do is tap my long stick on the ground and tell them to get in. It has even become somewhat of a game for them. If I am late getting to the coop, they will all be inside with a lookout watching for me. Once the lookout spots me they will all come back out before I can get to the coop. They then wait near the coop for me to herd them back in.
     
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