Hawk Deterent - cayenne pepper?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by heybarb, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. heybarb

    heybarb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We've been struggling with protecting our free range chickens from birds of prey - we think it's a red tail hawk. So, a local chicken owner told me to get a fake chicken, cover it with real chicken feathers and then COVER it with finely ground cayenne and jalapeno pepper, then lay it out in the open yard. He swears that the hawk will spot it and when he swoops down to get it, the pepper will fly all over the hawk and "burn" the hawk and he won't come back...Anyone else ever heard trying this? I'm starting to feel desperate - my husband thinks it's the most absurd thing he's ever heard...

    Anyone else have thoughts on it?
     
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    And he got that information by watching cartoons on Saturday morning? The plan is to buy a rubber chicken and then glue feathers all over it and this is going to fool a hawk into attacking? You are going to spend hours and hours covering a fake chicken with real feathers.

    Birds lack the taste receptors for the chemical in peppers that we perceive as burning. That means that hot peppers are not a deterrent.

    The "friend" was pulling your leg.

    If you want to protect your birds from a hawk, then keep them in a covered run. If the hawk can't get to them, then the hawk can't kill them.
     
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  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You would need to look into legalities of such but I would start with actuall chicken carcass, not a dummy and place it in elevated location. Sensitivity of a given species' palate to pepper needs to be addressed on a species by species basis, no assumptions should be made.


    A similar effort has been worked with sheep used to control weeds in vineyards. Grape plants are laced with a chemical that is tasteless but makes sheep nausiated when consumed. Sheep consume the grape plants and learn not to eat them. The same sheep can then be released in vinyard to eat pest plants. Such if applied to chicken carcass might give similar results. Problem is where hawk learns to simply eat only chickens it kills and to leave carrion alone. Another problem is multiple hawks may hunting a given area so many would have to be trained and possibly continously. I use cover and dogs yet keep a good number of free-ranging birds out and lost none for more thant a year to the abundant hawks. Mulitple systems work, close no doors.
     
  4. chickortreat

    chickortreat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sakes alive, yes, I'd be worried about whether it was legal to put out pepper to deter a hawk. SOme of you obviously worry yourselves sick over such things. I don't have chickens to feed the hawks, and I refuse to allow hawks to kill my chickens. I'm thankful that I have never lost a chicken to a hawk, but it definitely would not be safe for a hawk to attack my birds. Legal or not.
     
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  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Chick,

    Either you have next to no birds or have not kept them very long. Shooting hawks to keep them at bay for complete control would deny you a day job or sleep.
     
  6. chickortreat

    chickortreat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 16 hens and 2 roos, presently. It wouldn't matter if I had only one chicken, though, I still would not let a hawk have it without retribution. As I said, I don't raise chickens to furnish snacks for the almighty raptors.
     
  7. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you try this, let us know if it seems to work. In general, birds have far fewer taste buds than mammals do. That's why lacing birdseed with hot pepper helps to keep rodents from eating birdseed while not preventing songbirds from eating it - the mammals can taste it, but the birds cannot.

    To make birds avoid certain foods, usually what is done is to lace the food with some chemical that will actually make the bird sick to its stomach. They quickly learn to associate that food with feeling ill, and avoid consuming it in the future. I believe this has been done to train crows to not eat the eggs of other bird species.

    It may well be that some species, or even that hawks in general, have better taste sensation than other birds, but I think the low level of taste buds is a pretty general rule among birds. I think I remember reading that ostriches, for example, have no taste buds at all.

    Agree with Centrarchid - it's not realistic to control hawk predation by shooting, unless you plan to stand guard all day long. They are really fast, and don't wait around for you to come out for a chick check before coming down to make the snatch. You need some sort of system or set up that deters them.
     
  8. capthollis

    capthollis Out Of The Brooder

    Pepper + a rubber chicken... Lol... Oh me o my
     
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    It is illegal to harrass hawks in any way from what I have read on BYC, so I'd just provide range shelters.

    I use pallets elevated on concrete blocks and A-frame short shelters (long sheets of plywood sawed in half with some metal roofing on them). Also firring strip and plastic roofing shelters. It works pretty well but yes a determined hawk can take them out.

    The rubber chicken would be good for a gag gift LOL.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
  10. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just reread the OP and see it says fake chicken. I would use a real chicken carcass, sprinkle the pepper on the skin, not the feathers, to be the hawk consumes it. I'd keep the flock inside the coop for the day, and put the peppered carcass right in your chicken yard. That way, if pepper does taste terrible to the hawk, it might associate not only the chicken, but also your particular chicken yard, with that unpleasant flavor.

    But as I said, I doubt this will work, because pepper doesn't make one sick, it's just a strong flavor, and birds tend to have little ability to taste.

    I suppose it's prudent to check on the legality, but I wouldn't consider this harassment, and if I had your problem and were so motivated, I personally would not hesitate to try it. It's much more benign than destroying their habitat, which is done on enormous scale on a daily basis, and if it works, it's a way to help people coexist with birds of prey.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012

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