Hawk pre-attack behavior

Sunshade82

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
109
129
106
SW Utah
Hi everyone. I have 6 chickens who spend most of their day in a coop and run. Everyday for an hour or so I let them run around in my backyard which I watch over them.
My girls love their yard time but I stay with them while keeping an eye on the sky since we have so many hawks around here. Once a hawk is spotted, playtime is over and they all follow me as I frantically lead them back to the run.
My question is how to spot and prevent a hawk attack. I’m sure they’ve seen my girls as they’ve flown overhead. They’ve never stopped or circled back though.
What is a hawk’s behavior like before an attack? Do they spot prey and swoop right down? Perch on a nearby fence or tree and watch a while? Am I overreacting by screaming hawk and running for the coop? 😆 is there anything I can do to discourage a hawk from even trying? (We can’t have roosters here btw.)
If I’m playing with fire and it’s just a matter of time before we have an attack then we’ll stop yard time 😢
**attached is a picture of some hawks on the streetlight by my house feasting on a black bird (crow?)
52E84EEB-6BBD-450A-B689-8A79B97FFECA.jpeg
4F06068D-D2B4-4A7C-AEC5-FB72C638478F.jpeg
 

kcan2

Crowing
Oct 18, 2019
696
2,797
316
MI
Yikes! It's great that you are supervising them so well, your instincts are probably right. One affordable and quick solution I saw posted on BYC was this run made out of pvc, chicken netting, and cable ties, pictured attached to the coop. It at least will protect from aerial predators, and enable them a larger area to range.
Screenshot_20201219-175200_Chrome.jpg
 

Sunshade82

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
109
129
106
SW Utah
Yikes! It's great that you are supervising them so well, your instincts are probably right. One affordable and quick solution I saw posted on BYC was this run made out of pvc, chicken netting, and cable ties, pictured attached to the coop. It at least will protect from aerial predators, and enable them a larger area to range.
View attachment 2467002
🤔 That’s a good idea. Then they still get to explore new areas without the danger. Maybe I could even leave them unattended for a bit so they have more time
 

kcan2

Crowing
Oct 18, 2019
696
2,797
316
MI
🤔 That’s a good idea. Then they still get to explore new areas without the danger. Maybe I could even leave them unattended for a bit so they have more time
That's what I thought, too. I know that pvc and plastic netting would need additional fortification to be safe from ground predators, but definitely a good option so you won't have to be right there supervising their entire "recess" from hawks 😊
 

kcan2

Crowing
Oct 18, 2019
696
2,797
316
MI
I had a hawk stalking my yard last summer/fall. I had been throwing out unused/wet chicken feed by the treeline, which was attracting chipmunks, which subsequently attracted the hawks. By the time I figured it out, the hawks had been scoping things out in my yard for quite some time. My chickens knew they were around long before I did!
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,405
29,676
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I built nice large covered pens for my birds but my land is mostly open pasture and we do have hawks and eagles around here too. I used good heavy duty netting. I don't let them out to free range because of losses in the past. If you get distracted that seem to be when the attacks happen, like the predators are watching from somewhere. Lessons learned the hard way. There is a stand of tall pine trees behind us. Good luck...
 

Sunshade82

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
109
129
106
SW Utah
I had a hawk stalking my yard last summer/fall. I had been throwing out unused/wet chicken feed by the treeline, which was attracting chipmunks, which subsequently attracted the hawks. By the time I figured it out, the hawks had been scoping things out in my yard for quite some time. My chickens knew they were around long before I did!
How do you know the hawk was watching your yard? I’ve only seen them fly overhead...never land where they can watch my chickens. Are the fly-bys their way of scoping things out or would they circle around or land? Idk
My chickens always see the hawks before me. Idk how they do it when they seem so busy foraging about
 

Sunshade82

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
109
129
106
SW Utah
I built nice large covered pens for my birds but my land is mostly open pasture and we do have hawks and eagles around here too. I used good heavy duty netting. I don't let them out to free range because of losses in the past. If you get distracted that seem to be when the attacks happen, like the predators are watching from somewhere. Lessons learned the hard way. There is a stand of tall pine trees behind us. Good luck...
Do you mind me asking what happens right before an attack? Do the hawks swoop out of the open sky? Drop down from a nearby tree? I’m wondering if I would have a chance to intervene.

I’m thinking the best option is to make their run bigger and just keep them enclosed. It’s around 10 sq feet per bird right now. I have room to double that. They’re sure gonna be unhappy though. Hopefully they forget that they used to have freedom.
 

hayley3

Crowing
14 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,072
1,956
446
Southern Indiana
Do you mind me asking what happens right before an attack? Do the hawks swoop out of the open sky? Drop down from a nearby tree? I’m wondering if I would have a chance to intervene.

I’m thinking the best option is to make their run bigger and just keep them enclosed. It’s around 10 sq feet per bird right now. I have room to double that. They’re sure gonna be unhappy though. Hopefully they forget that they used to have freedom.
Not an expert here, but since they have excellent vision, most hawks I see are sitting somewhere patiently waiting to see their prey. Vultures kind of float in the sky looking for dead bodies and they do better if the area has been mowed. But really that's a great question...we really need a hawk expert. I don't have any trees that a hawk can land in yet I had a hawk the other day. I have huge pine trees so they are not hawk friendly so the bird cannot land in the tree and target them.
 

MountainWoman73

Songster
Apr 18, 2018
732
1,395
231
Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado
Do you mind me asking what happens right before an attack? Do the hawks swoop out of the open sky? Drop down from a nearby tree? I’m wondering if I would have a chance to intervene.

You're essentially doing what a good rooster or alpha hen does, getting everyone under cover as soon as a hawk is spotted in the area. You being there or having a dog that barks can help interrupt an attack, but it isn't necessarily a deterrent. I have had a red-tail pick up a hen and drop her on the other side of the fence while I was right there in the yard. My dog and rooster were right there and none of us noticed until the hawk was flying away. Predators can be pretty bold. It all depends on how hungry they are.
 

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