Hawks and eagles vs. chickens - your experiences

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SillyMissLily, May 16, 2016.

  1. Yes, I've seen it!

    4 vote(s)
    26.7%
  2. Sure, I think so, but never did see it happen.

    4 vote(s)
    26.7%
  3. Not likely

    5 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. No, because I found chicken eaten at kill site, watch hawk drop chicken, etc.

    2 vote(s)
    13.3%
  1. SillyMissLily

    SillyMissLily Out Of The Brooder

    35
    4
    34
    Jan 19, 2014
    Colorado, western slope
    I'm wondering if chicken owners out there have ever witnessed a hawk or eagle carrying off an adult chicken. I have chickens myself and have studied wildlife for years, my specialty being sage grouse. A sage grouse is about the same size as an average standard (not bantam) hen chicken. When a grouse was eaten by an avian predator, the remains had telltale clues: prey was flipped onto it's back, innards gone, musculature stripped away from tough tendons, head/wings/legs usually remaining attached or near the victim. I was under the impression that most hawks are not big enough to carry off a chicken (or grouse, for that matter), but eagles are. Would anyone like to share what you've witnessed? Include breed/size of chicken, species of hawk, and any other info possible.
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm presuming you mean "adult, standard sized chicken" in your poll question. Can you edit it? I have adult chickens that weight 9 - 12 ounces, and I'm sure one of our red tail hawks could haul one of them off, but would be skeptical about them carrying one of my 6-8 lbs hens away. I do think our hawks could KILL a bigger hen...just can't see them dragging one through the skies...
     
  3. CntryBoy777

    CntryBoy777 Chillin' With My Peeps

    316
    892
    181
    Apr 25, 2016
    North Ms
    Sure have....there are some large red tails around here....and they have gotten several of my mom's RIR hens before....and some of the great horned owls have gotten some guineas....people can say what they believe....pro or con....but if ya have witnessed it ya have all the proof ya need to know that it is possible....there is a smaller hawk...the Cooper's that many confuse as a true red tail....they can't take a fully grown hen....but a large red tail surely can....this has been my experience....am in no way discrediting others.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. SillyMissLily

    SillyMissLily Out Of The Brooder

    35
    4
    34
    Jan 19, 2014
    Colorado, western slope
    Yes, that's what I meant, should have said that because I can't seem to edit the poll now. I can edit the thread, but that's all I could find.

    I agree, I'm sure hawks can kill larger hens to eat on site, but I can't imagine one flying away with it. Was hoping to hear other people's experiences.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I truly would also be interested in hearing about what others have actually seen with their own two eyes...no hearsay. I think many people see hawks out and about (or owls if late/early)...or even eagles. And then when chickens disappear it's presumed that the hawk (or other raptor) took it. And then this info., assumed to be true, is spread AS truth.

    Although they look really big, they generally only weigh around 2.5lbs, according to the info. I'm finding. So I just have a hard time accepting that they could fly away with a chicken weighing 6-8 lbs??? Again, I have no doubt that they could easily kill a very large chicken - I'm just a bit skeptical of the idea of them swooping down and carrying one off...

    I'll have to do some searches for videos...
     
  6. CntryBoy777

    CntryBoy777 Chillin' With My Peeps

    316
    892
    181
    Apr 25, 2016
    North Ms
    Well, when I was about 35 my family was visiting my mom and dad....they had 14 RIR hens, 1 roo, 24 guineas, and a pair of peacocks.....all the birds were free range.....there was a very large red tail that swooped down grabbed a hen and fleww over the ditch....just above tree level of about 20'.....I am not saying it took off and soared with it....but, it did happen....and by the time we made out and across the ditch we lost it.....another time, when I was in the 4th grade one took a hen off of a hill and glided about 60yds into some woods.....and, I have buried a great horned owl that my dad shot as it flew away with one of his guineas....now, I didn't 'Witness' it with my own eyes, but since I buried the carcas I tend to believe him....also, have witnessed the male peacock fighting 3 redtails on the ground....of course, not all at the same time....could have been the same bird 3 different times.....all that took place when phones still had rotary dials....LOL....so no video...sorry bout that....one thing I have learned in my 50+yrs.....most research material is based on 'Averages', so, is it common.....probably not....is it possible.....ya can count on it....not all men are 5'10"....but that is the average height....there are always exceptions to every rule.....LOL
     
  7. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    434
    64
    156
    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    We have waaay too many hawks around here. But, where I live no one raises chickens so.... We raise our chickens at my son's place. However, I live right smack against a vast marsh. We often witness ospreys catch full grown wild ducks and fly off with them. They constantly catch fish that are considerably longer than they are and fly off.

    Hawks don't rely on massive body size to provide them with the ability to carry off prey. They have large wings relative to their body size to enable them to lift off with some pretty heavy loads. Now, do I think that an average sized red tail can go soaring in the wild blue yonder with an 7-8 pound chicken. Probably not, but I bet that sucker can make it across the ditch or to the next field over.

    Yes, I have seen the ospreys in action with my own two eyes!!
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    18,040
    2,777
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Raptors I have observed working chickens are not able to fly from ground with anything larger than two pounds. Coopers hawks which are most likely to fly with intact and often living juvenile chickens do not carry more than 3/4 pound. Great-horned owls do carry the 2 lb loads but will drag item some distance and often up onto something like a fence post before actually flying with item. Flights of all with heavy loads are down hill.

    I have not seen any of my raptors even attempt to fly with with 4 pound game hens. They consume on kill sight over a day of so to get weight down to movable range.


    Female Coopers Hawks do take bigger juvenile chickens while males target the freshly weaned chicks about 5 weeks old. Latter bigger problem. Female Great-horned Owls (juvenile) more likely to try flying off with partially consumed Dominique carcasses tied down by wire or twine, I weighed carcasses repeatedly and found serious movement efforts even with GHO;s not made until more than half of carcass consumed.

    Red-tailed Hawks and Ferrugenous Hawks are less capable than GHO and less likely to try and pack things off. I have never seen a Buteo attempt to fly with anything live except for snakes that harder to kill.


    Bald Eagles fly over here almost daily depending on winds but have not targetted chickens while observed..


    Season very important. Much of year packing off not a major occurrence. Most likely to occur when feeding nest bound mate or chicks.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  9. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not after chickens but I once witnessed a Cooper's Hawk soar across two lanes of traffic to go under the awning of a fast food restaurant and into the bushes to try and snag a sparrow. He missed. Somehow. He was like a heat seeking missile and flew right over the hood of my car and straight as an arrow into those bushes. I always remember this when talking about ways to protect chickens as many always say block straight flights to your chickens. This certainly seemed to be what that Cooper's Hawk had done......find a straight flight path to get under that awning. A couple weeks ago, I was outside and heard cackling/screeching across the road in my neighbor's yard. I turned in time to see one of his hens disappearing over his roof and behind the trees. He free ranges his chickens. The screeching ended in the woods behind his house. Whatever raptor it was was already behind tree branches when I turned and I only got to see the hen. Not really hard to figure out what happened though. There was screeching until whatever got the hen to the woods. Then all was quiet. My closest neighbor next door keeps 3 chickens, one being a rooster, in about an 8' x4' x4' run covered in white plastic. Last summer when they moved in and set those chickens up I watched a hawk sit on the roof of my garage and watch that run. Then I watched the hawk sit on my fence post(about 10 feet away) and watch. But never tried to breach the plastic on that run. I haven't seen any hawks stalking his little run this year. I'm thinking plastic is a deterrent? I'm still scratching my head on that one as his 3 chickens are still alive and well in what I would consider an absolutely unsafe run.

    I feel like raptors seek the opportunity and my goal is take the opportunity away and my observations show me that even if a hawk gets a hen, it can't manage to fly very far with it. Though getting a hen roof level was a pretty good accomplishment. My dad said as a boy he watched kestrels(commonly called "chicken hawks") swoop down and grab young chickens and chicks out of his mother's free range flock. They would then soar straight up in the air and drop the chicken to kill it. Then swoop back down and eat it on the spot. :( They never flew away with them just carried them up in the air enough to drop them to their death. A kestrel is a small hawk. I believe him. He never makes stuff up. And he never claimed they got a full grown hen....just the young ones.
     
  10. cscigu

    cscigu Chillin' With My Peeps

    85
    11
    74
    May 14, 2014
    What I've seen with hawks is:

    They dive bomb and hit the chicken hard and fast, knocking it senseless or killing it with first contact. If not dead, chicken is pinned to the ground and killed. The chicken is then carried, sometimes clumsily to an area maybe 20-30 yards away, but away clear of the kill site, where at least part is consumed. Then, the remains are carried further away to a more secluded area if necessary.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by