Hawk Predation

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by echildress81, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. echildress81

    echildress81 Hatching

    May 21, 2013
    Hello, I am looking for some advice! I have a small flock that 'free ranges' in my backyard, which is about 3/4 acre fenced. There is plenty of cover for them from down trees, brush, etc. In the last month I have lost 2 birds - a brahma and a cochin - to a hawk. These are my 2 biggest hens! And of course, my favorites :( I am really sad and worried that this hawk now knows where to come for dinner. My other hens are smaller and more vunerable than the two that died and would be easy prey. Now that I have this predator, what do I do?? My hens don't really have a run area, just a coop and then the entire yard. So netting isn't really an option. What can I do to deter this hawk, a scarecrow? Big dog? I am devastated. Thanks for any advice.
  2. N F C

    N F C no time like snow time

    Dec 12, 2013
    Good morning and welcome to BYC!

    I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Hawks will remain close by the area where they have found a meal before. Unless you can provide a covered run for your birds and you want to continue to free range, you can try some of the things mentioned in this article (link below). For example, hang shiny objects in tree branches or having a protective roo to keep an eye out for the hens. Some also use livestock guardian dogs to keep watch over their birds. I've read there are certain times of day hawks are most likely to hunt and you may be able to schedule your girl's outside time accordingly.

    I hope you find a solution that works for you. Good luck to you!

    (be sure to read the comments in the article for other's experiences with hawks, some potential ideas are in there)
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Show a picture of yard ans possibly kill sites. Need confirmation of cover quality and predator ID.

    Are you allowed to have a rooster? Hen and juvenile only flocks are particularly vulnerable.

    I use dogs but they are likely the most expensive option you can employ and take time to get one into the job.

    With proper cover already in place, electrified poultry netting might so what you want.

    Otherwise confining flock until late in the day can be a method for missing hawks hunting window.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  4. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Songster

    Mar 13, 2013
    My Coop
    Yup, hawks are tough especially this time of the year when they are migrating. I free range (no fence, no run, just a secure coop at night). Recently I lost 4 8-week old chicks to a hawk. I live on the border of 3,000 acres of forest and this was my first predator loss (knock on wood) in 2 years.

    I have never tried to deter hawks with CD's or any of the other methods suggested in the various threads that deal with hawk predation. What I have is 4 dogs who run my farm. They are 4 different breeds, all rescues from the shelter. One is a beagle mutt so she chases the rabbits. Another is a terrier mutt so she's always after the moles and mice. Another is a hound mutt so he's busy chasing anything in a tree. The last dog is an anatolian shepherd mutt. I'm not positive he's really an Anatolian (which is a guardian livestock dog) but that dog is alert! He watches the sky, the ground, close up, distance. He's on the JOB!

    Dogs naturally defend and protect their territory. In my case, the dogs run off all the little critters that most natural predators want to eat. A dog chasing something will bark and a dog barking naturally scares away predators. My dogs also chase birds. We have a small pond and the dogs chase off any ducks or geese or herons who try to make the pond their home. They also chase hawks. They just naturally do. I didn't teach them this. They just do it.

    Also, having more than one dog makes a difference. A single dog will bond with you and the rest of the family. Two dogs will not only bond with you but very likely with each other.

    So, one idea is to get 2 dogs from your shelter. I don't know where you live and what your weather is like. I live in Kentucky and my dogs are outside alot during the day but inside at night. I don't chain or leash them because we live way out on a back country dead end road. But the idea is to get dogs that are a breed of dog that like being outside and that is not likely to bother chickens. In your 3/4 acre yard, I don't think a hawk is going to come down when there are 2 dogs laying about! Plus, 2 dogs are more likely to sit contentedly out in your yard and guard your place together as they are pack animals and will do it together.

    I did have to train my dogs to not bother my chickens. The beagle mutt, hound mutt and anatolian mutt all needed minimal training. A few days of "these are my chickens, not your chickens" in a stern voice is all it took. The terrier mutt took more time but it wasn't hard. Now, the dogs all treat the chickens as part of the landscape. The dogs will lay asleep in the hay with the chickens 2 feet from their noses, open one eye, see the chickens, go back to sleep. But if they hear an unfamiliar sound or a shadow of a hawk passes by, they are up and running after whatever it is.

    Some others do suggest more training for the dogs, so they learn what a chicken alarming sounds like and so they react appropriately, etc. This is great advice. I just offer this as an alternative. Dogs are natural protectors of your property and if they understand your chickens are just part of your property, they will by default protect them too. Dogs are natural predators too so they will chase most anything they think is prey or an intruder If you teach them that your chickens are not prey, they will naturally chase everything else. And again, in my case, my dogs all have their "niche" which is by accident. I just adopted these dogs for various reasons (on death row in a kill shelter, etc) and ended up with dogs all different from each other.

    Back to my hawk that took the 4 chicks over a 2 day period. I believe he was migrating because I haven't seen him since and he was extra big so I believe I'd recognize him. I saw him eating one of my chicks a little distance from my barn and I simply tried to scare him away. That's all I had to do and I never saw him again. I've read that adult hawks are easier to scare than juveniles and by the size of him, he was an adult. And I've read extensively on the laws around harrassing or harming a hawk, all highly illegal. Plus, I honestly "get" that the hawk was just getting an easy meal and in a certain way, I feel OK about it because at least my chicks didn't go to waste. Three of the 4 were likely cockerals and I was going to eventally put them in the pot at some point anyway....

    In terms of the dogs and this particular hawk, my dogs were not around when the hawk came as they were up the mountain with my husband working on a bulldozing project at the time. I suspect the local hawks have never (yet!) bothered my chickens because they know the dogs are "around." I suspect this is the reason because I had 14 baby chicks earlier this past summer, free ranging all over the place with their mothers and not one loss. And we see and hear hawks constantly overhead. So... it's just the way it goes sometimes. A hawk flies by on it's way to some migration spot, sees little chicks, dogs are gone for awhile and the hawk has himself a nice baby chick for lunch. Nature and chance at work, I guess.

    Hope this helps,
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Songster

    Mar 13, 2013
    My Coop
    Oh and I almost forgot... do you have a rooster? If you can have one where you live, a rooster is the second best predator deterant, second only to the dogs. Most roosters will again, naturally fight off most predators. Part of their job is to protect the hens and in many cases, they will do it to the death. I keep 2 roosters in my flock of 16 total chickens. I only really need 1 but the secpnd is a spare, in case the primary gets done in by a predator. A few weeks ago, my primary rooster was all bloody on one side of his head. I have no idea what happened. He fought something off. I'll never know what he fought but whatever it was, he won because all my hens are fine. And he's prefectly fine, can't even tell now that he was cut.

    But I keep a spare rooster, just in case. The primary rooster runs the spare rooster off and the spare rooster spends a lot of time by himself (poor boy, he sort of hangs out with me alot). So, there is some drama keeping 2 roosters. So, 2 is not at all necessary or not even prefered. But at least 1 would really help your hens to be more safe, if you can have one.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  6. The Colonel

    The Colonel Songster

    Mar 23, 2014
    Middle TN
    Get a good reliable gun if you can. In the end, regardless of situation, somebody has to guard the flock. Without a rooster that leaves you. Whether you have a dog or not, it's still handy to have a little backup. I think I saw it called the SSS method. I must add though, I do not shoot to kill most of the time, just depends on how close they are. A good warning shot is usually all that's necessary. But depending on your location, if your in the city and can't keep roosters you can't shoot guns either.
  7. N F C

    N F C no time like snow time

    Dec 12, 2013
    The S-S-S you refer to stands for Shoot-Shovel-Shut up...sometimes it's the only solution (IMO). Depends on circumstances of course.
  8. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Crowing

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Shooting hawks is a federal crime. Do what you want, but hawks will kill free range birds, it's part of the equation. Putting them in a covered run is the only sure way to protect them. You can let them out when you are there to supervise. I've had a hawk dive bombing my chicken pen for months. So far he hasn't attacked the free range guineas, but I've lost some in years past.
  9. KGreene

    KGreene In the Brooder

    Aug 23, 2014
    Its permissible to shoot hawks and other raptors if they're "in the act of molesting livestock or poultry"..... At least it is in Va., W.Va, Utah, Okla. and a few other states I believe. Although a covered coop and the availability of other protection such as shrubs and bushes would reduce many losses.
  10. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chirping

    Nov 3, 2014
    Hampton, GA

    Read this and let's cut through the hyperbole. All raptors are federally protected species, the states can choose not to prosecute or even make it legal but the federal statute is still there. However there is a means to legally remove raptors but you must go through the proper process.

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