RoosterWhisperer

M*A*S*H
Premium Feather Member
Sep 13, 2019
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We just moved to our new property earlier this year and this is my first time dealing with birds of prey... suffice it to say that I underestimated them. On my neighbor's advice, I didn't even try free-ranging during midday due to the hawk presence in the area. The chickens get to run around from 5pm until sundown. Other than that, they have 24/7 access to their covered runs.

Welp... a couple weeks ago a great horned owl literally squeezed himself into one of the coops through a 4"x5" gap and took out 6 pullets. Apparently none of the cockerels took it upon themselves to intervene, as they're off the clock as soon as they hit the roost. :rolleyes: After he dispatched the girls he couldn't find his way back out. I did my best to scare him silly and then let him go. Well, wouldn't you know it — he came back that very same night after I went to bed, squeezed his way in again, and finished his meal (just the ones he'd already killed, thank goodness). He was in the coop, fat and happy as a clam, when I came in the morning to clean up the bodies.

My takeaway: birds of prey aren't scared of you and don't care about whatever obstacles you throw up at them. If they're around, chickens either need to be very well secured or need to be able to get somewhere the larger birds can't access.
I don't know how a great horned owl squeezed through a gap like that.

I would've captured it and made it my first falconry bird! :gig 🤣
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
If you plant evergreen shrubs they won’t drop their leaves in the fall. There are lots of nice evergreen shrubs. I planted Ceanothus and pineapple guava and the chooks forage near them. When my older hen (3 years) sees a hawk she runs and hides under the closest bush, like a huge rhododendron, and the other four (9 months old) see her run and follow immediately. While they forage, they glance up at the sky. I’ve had two hawk attacks in 3 years, it was before I got the four new hens. I found the hens hiding, terrified. Clumps of feathers nearby. Kept them in the coop and run for a few days to let them calm down. I’d love to cover my entire yard (1/2 acre) with chicken wire on poles so they’d have full access.
Another idea suggested by a contractor-friend- get a black rooster or black chicken and hawks will think it’s a crow. I had already bought 2 black australorps so maybe this will deter hawks. Has anyone heard of this?
For what it’s worth, the hen that was attacked was my black maran. She’s my only black gal so don’t know about that black hen crow theory :)
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
I understand your current situation, as I’ve had a young chicken get attacked by a hawk as well and he survived just fine.

But I am not here to discuss the chicken part of this question, as a raptor expert I’m here to help you.

Your thoughts on red tailed hawk sound correct, red tailed hawk‘s are brown with a sandy underside. They are a decent sized hawk being between the size of a crow and a goose. Would you say it was a light or dark brown? Red tailed hawk‘s have different color patterns called morphs. Some morphs are more likely to be seen in certain areas, the most common morphs you’ll see are light and dark, just as it states light morphs will be light brown and dark morphs will be dark brown.

A Cooper’s hawk has more of a salmon colored breast with a blue gray top side and a tail with a white bar at the top and darker gray barring at the bottom. yet thinking about it, juvenile or immature Cooper’s Hawk‘s are a brown color with a light tan breast similar to a red tailed hawks coloring. But they are around size of a crow as well.

If you have any more questions feel free to ask I’m always happy to help!😁

~RoosterWhisperer
Thanks for reply and your insight! Definitely had a sandy colored underbelly and larger sjze- bigger than a crow most definitely. I only caught the underbelly of this specific bird. In the area the only hawks I’ve ever seen have been light brown in color for what ever that’s worth.
Our hen is all healed up and doing great so my panic is over and while I’m still worried about free ranging the flock going forward I’m a bit fascinated by hawk behavior now ha. Mostly thinking about how vulnerable the flock was all summer without incident despite hawks in the area and what changed. Season? migration? just plain old luck run out? I’m seeing lots of info about if a hawk attempts an attack they’ll definitely be back but I can’t imagine this is the first time the girls were spotted…anyway! All birds are fascinating but birds of prey a really something else! Any good resources (books, podcasts) you’d recommend?
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
Each time you see something off and your dog is around act panicked and tell him to go check it out. Keep saying check it out while walking the perimeter. After awhile your dog should catch on with what to do. Now all I do is say “what’s that” and he jumps to alert. While he sits or lays down watching believe me he knows what’s going on. Now my chickens make a fuss and my dog is off to check it out. Good luck.
FYI this is the worst time of year for hawks
We’ve got half of this down already. Dog reacts like a maniac when we say “who’s that” (it’s fun when we forget and are actually asking each other in earnest lol) but we can definitely generalize that command. Dog’s smart and always wanting a darn job anyway. Good tip!
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
Coopers Hawks are small, what you describe sounds like red-tail. They are very large (in some cases) whereas Coopers prefer to hunt from bushes or very low tree branches. Also Coopers have very white underbellies and wings.

I would encourage your murders with whole corn. Until the threat has subsided, I would only allow supervised free range. Border Collies are herding not LGDs. Do not expect protection behaviors, you may be severely disapointed.
If I could do anything to befriend our crows I’d be indebted to this thread. My dream.

Dog is technically a border heeler so has a bit more intensity/protectiveness than your average border collie. But he is not a LGD. This is correct haha I have no illusions!
 

PastyButtsMom

In the Brooder
Mar 3, 2021
13
6
21
I love my chunnels!!🥰
I had a pullet killed by a hawk while in a Chunnel :-( if I’d been home I’m sure I could’ve prevented it but I was out the whole day so the hawk had time to catch her. I really couldn’t have imagined it possible since I used 2” x 4” welded fencing and the Chunnel runs along my fence and is pretty discrete. I’ve never heard of this happening in another Chunnel - have you?
 

jenniferschickens

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2020
10
16
41
If you plant evergreen shrubs they won’t drop their leaves in the fall. There are lots of nice evergreen shrubs. I planted Ceanothus and pineapple guava and the chooks forage near them. When my older hen (3 years) sees a hawk she runs and hides under the closest bush, like a huge rhododendron, and the other four (9 months old) see her run and follow immediately. While they forage, they glance up at the sky. I’ve had two hawk attacks in 3 years, it was before I got the four new hens. I found the hens hiding, terrified. Clumps of feathers nearby. Kept them in the coop and run for a few days to let them calm down. I’d love to cover my entire yard (1/2 acre) with chicken wire on poles so they’d have full access.
Another idea suggested by a contractor-friend- get a black rooster or black chicken and hawks will think it’s a crow. I had already bought 2 black australorps so maybe this will deter hawks. Has anyone heard of this?
I'm here reading this thread because a Coopers Hawk just attacked our only black chicken. Out of our 15 red/brown/white/golden/grey chickens, the hawk went after the black one. The hawk actually attacked from the ground, it came walking around the corner of our woodshed and attacked (we have a ring camera that caught it all). Our rooster ran to the back door making a lot of noise to let us know but then ran under the shed when the hawk attacked :(. Emmy Lou, our black chicken, ran under a tarp but the hawk followed her on foot under the tarp. At this point we had ran outside and my husband jerked the tarp off and the hawk flew. Our girl lost a lot of feathers, but no obvious wounds thank goodness. I had always heard hawks won't attack black chickens too :(.
 

-Flash-

~True Blue~
Premium Feather Member
Sep 15, 2021
2,036
5,846
406
NSW, Australia
I'm here reading this thread because a Coopers Hawk just attacked our only black chicken. Out of our 15 red/brown/white/golden/grey chickens, the hawk went after the black one. The hawk actually attacked from the ground, it came walking around the corner of our woodshed and attacked (we have a ring camera that caught it all). Our rooster ran to the back door making a lot of noise to let us know but then ran under the shed when the hawk attacked :(. Emmy Lou, our black chicken, ran under a tarp but the hawk followed her on foot under the tarp. At this point we had ran outside and my husband jerked the tarp off and the hawk flew. Our girl lost a lot of feathers, but no obvious wounds thank goodness. I had always heard hawks won't attack black chickens too :(.
Lucky girl!
 

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