Hawk issues, and can't eliminate its perch!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CreativeCowgirl, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. CreativeCowgirl

    CreativeCowgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    The past few weeks I have had several hawk attacks resulting in dead or lost birds. At first, I didn't know what it was, but narrowed it down to either a cat or hawk, since it was during the day. Yesterday I heard a commotion near the coop, so I rushed outside to investigate, to find my chickens terrified and running for cover, and a hawk sitting on the ground munching on one of my pullets. It flew away when it saw me, but still had my pullet clutched in its talons. Today I strung a rope and many strands of fishing line across the open area of the chicken yard (there is too much area for avian netting) and added some cover for them in the more open areas of the yard. Tomorrow I will make a scarecrow and maybe soon get a fake owl (not sure if it will work but worth a try). The one big problem is, there are several telephone poles for electricity lines all the way across my property, and one is directly in front of the open area. I suspect that the hawk is using this as a perching spot to pick out his meal before he swoops down on them. Unfortunately, I cannot alter it in any way to keep the hawk from perching there, since it belongs to the electric company! Is there anything I can do about this? I have also been looking into guardian animals, and was wondering if anyone could recommend one that would be good against hawks. I have heard of people using anything from guineas, turkeys, and geese, to LGDs, llamas, ponies/donkeys, or even goats. We were actually considering getting a few goats, but not sure yet if we can afford them. Any recommendations? Smaller animals would be better since we have limited space and resources (about 3/4 of an acre).
     
  2. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a very large chicken yard with several fruit trees. About 40 ft wide and 90 yards long.

    I had several hawk attacks and lost four chickens in three days. No more of that. I can't allow my chickens to be bait. Once a hawk knows there is food, that's it. They will find a way in.

    i got very serious. Took three days off from work. I hired some local guys from our neighborhood Labor Center. I bought 20 rolls of poultry netting. We trimmed the top of the trees and rolled the netting from one side to the other and secured it with posts.

    It looks fine and I have no more fear of a hawk ever getting to them again. They deserve they best protection I can offer. After all, they are in a domestic situation and can't run far for cover.
     
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  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: No "guardian" animal is going to make a big difference with hawks.
    They are patient, and fast, and can make a kill in just a few seconds
    I'd suggest locking your birds in the coop for a few days, in hopes this hawk will move on.

    This time of year it's very possible he's just passing through
     
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  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    X 2
     
  5. MelissaTXRn

    MelissaTXRn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It really makes me mad that I can't let mine out of their run. If I do, a hawk would get them. They fly by when I am outside too. Not much deters them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  6. CreativeCowgirl

    CreativeCowgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    ok, well I will be keeping them inside for a while. Hopefully it is just migrating and will move on once there is no more food supply aka my chickens in view. I got the scarecrow up yesterday, again not sure if it will make a difference or not, but one can hope. Also am looking into getting a great Pyrenees puppy or goats. I know that if a hawk is really determined, it is still faster than the dog, but I have heard that if there is a large, menacing animal moving around near the chickens, that some hawks won't even want to try.
     
  7. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    IQuote:
    That "may" be true, but most of the time those big dogs are just lying in the shade.during the day

    I REALLY don't advise getting a LGD breed and expecting it to "protect" your chickens.

    Odds are it will kill more than hawks ever will
     
  8. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Frankly, the only thing that will protect your chickens from hawks is cover. Locking them away for a few days means nothing. It's nature. Where there is food, there is prey.

    Before I put up my netting I tried mirrors, mylar ribbon and scarecrows. It was after I put all this up that I had a hawk attack. Even after the netting was up I saw them flying around looking for an opening. You are playing with fire trying solutions that are questionable.

    A gentle suggestion. Cover your chicken yard somehow. You will greatly reduce your anxiety, protect your little girls and have wonderful peace of mind.

    I know you love your animals otherwise you wouldn't be in this forum. You would not have asked for help. You care and you are tying to find a solution.

    Tomorrow I will post a picture of my yard. Hopefully it will give you an idea.

    All best and good luck.

    Geri
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You can do a lot to protect your birds. I do it and my poultry keeping arrangements looks like bush country where hawks of all sorts and other predators are abundant. We have lots of attempts by hawks causing lots of drama but rate of loss is very low (zero for 2013). I have more birds and more acreage so I can justify more investment in the effort than you need to, but my front porch birds have suffered under a range of my protection systems that are scaled similar to what you have.

    Since hawk is able to carry catch I assume your chickens are small. Small birds are harder to protect.

    Knowing hawk species is also very important. What is it? Red-tailed, Coopers or something else..........

    Providing a covered run is likely the cheapest and most appropriate method for protecting a small flock. You can still let them out but do so near end of day and try to be out there with the birds. Hawks will hunt throughout the day but they are much less inclined to do so in the last hour or so before dark. When predator visits put every thing down and get into fray. Scaring daylights out of hawk will give reason to pass your flock over.

    Cover in the form of heavy bushes can help since chickens are at least harder to catch and can run faster that a hawk can even though hawks like Coopers can run pretty fast. A hawk will go into heavy cover after juveniles or hen only flocks. With heavy cover the chickens can get into where hawk must be on ground to follow, a fully adult standard size rooster can be be used to repel hawk. I use game roosters for this very effectively against Coopers Hawks which are handily the biggest problem now that grass is too deep for red-tails to hunt effectively. Whole flock will run for cover and if hawk attempts to follow rooster will act like a mad hen and attack it. I am still exploring this and will attempt to use multiple non-game roosters to see if they can defend larger groups of smaller birds without roosters fighting in death matches among themselves..

    Dogs can work but not all are inclined to go after raptors like mine do. Many dogs are deadheads with respect to hawks because we do too good a job training them not to mess with birds. All my good dogs go through a chicken killing phase and so not settle into job fully until about 18 months old when started as pups. They are not reprimanded for going after birds, just chickens. I encourage interest in squawking / alarmed chickens and they quickly learn to get excited and check on disturbance. My dogs, like many can distinguish hawks from chickens and even between species as well as we can and with a little helpful encouragement try to catch hawk whether it is perched or in flight, especially when the chickens are cackling about the hawk. Both my dogs now run about after hawks flying low through yard and hop around like kangaroo under power-line when red-tail lingers there. The dogs I use are not a standard LGD (sheep / goat guarding dog) breed so require a little more dog handling skills but they are worth when considering feed cost and dog's productive lifespan. Same dogs also double as pets although they can get to chickens when they want.

    I am into all aspect of poultry keeping, the wildlife, and the dogs which are to me fun. You will have think on your feet and keep your mind open to a range of approaches but not all work for all people. You should be able to see from my approach I use multiple methods I try to conceptualize theme as layers.
     
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    They are migrating and are very hungry.. and patient.

    My hawk issue was resolved by keeping the susceptible young ones in for a few days. Hawk has since moved on. The large fowl have no issue with the hawk. A broody mother even fought the hawk trying to take one of her chicks. Hawk was on the losing end surprisingly enough. It was a small male cooper hawk.

    If the hawk is just migrating (did you have issues in the spring and summer?) if you remove the food source for a few days, the migrating hawk has no choice but to look elsewhere.

    Do you have any roosters? They definitely help.. But most importantly cover.. I have plenty of hiding spots for them to get away from the hawk when the roosters sound the call. None of my girls like staying in open pasture when it's hawk migration time. The roosters are always on lookout. The geese migrating above also send the roosters into a warning call, but it's different than the hawk warning call.. Can never be too careful warning the girls this time of year....
     

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