Hawks and smart chickens

PatinOxford

Chirping
7 Years
Feb 27, 2014
24
14
99
I am fairly new to chicken keeping, and am still trying to figure out the threats in our area. No dogs roaming (the ones that roamed are all dead), foxes don't come up close to the house, no coyote (yet). My chickens range in our tightly fenced 2 acre yard during the day, and are cooped tightly at night. We have almost never seen a hawk closer than 1000 yards away, down in the pasture where there is a lot of rodent habitat.

But this morning I heard one of the hens "bawking" -- loud, single vocalizations that sounded like the beginning of the egg song. I opened the screen slider and watched as a small hawk, probably an immature sharp-shinned or Cooper's, took off from the ground and flew off over the fields. The girls were deep inside a handy forsythia thicket and under no threat. As soon as I came outdoors, they came out and clustered around me; I walked them to the coop, which is under dense pine trees, and has a covered but tiny run, and they started scratching around there. Now they are messing around just beyond our deck, which also offers excellent cover.

Do other people's chickens call them when they are in trouble? Red (RIR) knows we will come out and check when she sings her egg song, but she's never used that tone singly before.
 

CrazyTalk

Songster
5 Years
Jun 10, 2014
1,384
336
148
Roosters will call when they spot a hawk - they basically tell the hens to get under cover - I wouldn't be surprised to see an alpha hen do the same thing in the absence of a rooster.
 

PatinOxford

Chirping
7 Years
Feb 27, 2014
24
14
99
No rooster, the coop is right under our bedroom windows and our neighbors would object strenuously ... even though they have 8 dogs that bark without pause. ;)

The hen who made the racket is the dominant hen. Very interesting.
 

2karen22

Chirping
May 22, 2015
63
7
70
I hens make a low tone purr sound. They all stand alert and then walk or make a bee line to some cover (bush, coop, brush, or dog house). They are very savvy.

Today my husband spotted a hawk on the ground giving a stalking look. He didn't see our hens (5), but didn't see any feathers either. The hens were on the opposite side of the yard. Eye balling the hawk between the fire wood and the huge maple tree trunk that needs to be cut up for fire wood.

He shooed the hawk away and let our "granny" boxer out just in case the hawk came back.
 

Beekissed

Free Ranging
13 Years
Feb 14, 2008
22,974
5,078
682
This world is not my home.
I am fairly new to chicken keeping, and am still trying to figure out the threats in our area. No dogs roaming (the ones that roamed are all dead), foxes don't come up close to the house, no coyote (yet). My chickens range in our tightly fenced 2 acre yard during the day, and are cooped tightly at night. We have almost never seen a hawk closer than 1000 yards away, down in the pasture where there is a lot of rodent habitat.

But this morning I heard one of the hens "bawking" -- loud, single vocalizations that sounded like the beginning of the egg song. I opened the screen slider and watched as a small hawk, probably an immature sharp-shinned or Cooper's, took off from the ground and flew off over the fields. The girls were deep inside a handy forsythia thicket and under no threat. As soon as I came outdoors, they came out and clustered around me; I walked them to the coop, which is under dense pine trees, and has a covered but tiny run, and they started scratching around there. Now they are messing around just beyond our deck, which also offers excellent cover.

Do other people's chickens call them when they are in trouble? Red (RIR) knows we will come out and check when she sings her egg song, but she's never used that tone singly before.

They call the alarm but it's not a call for me, it's to notify each other of danger. My dogs will run to the call, but if the flock is close to the house they will use the house for shelter and, if I go out, they will noticeably relax and start to tell me all about it with various sounds. I'll make a show of going out to look for the threat and they will soon follow me out to the open and go back to life as normal.
 

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