Hawks finally did it

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jrskol2000, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. jrskol2000

    jrskol2000 Chirping

    Sep 7, 2010
    Yesterday, I went outside to hear a commotion coming from the yard. I ran back there to scare off a coopers hawk from a dead hen. Very sad. The rest of my hens were scattered and super scared. The hawk flew to a near by tree and was making a racket. Then I noticed that there were four hawks in the trees and they were in a frenzy (Two red tail hawks and two coopers hawks). Usually these birds spook super easy and take off but they didn't this time. It was crazy being in the middle of this scene and having four hawks ****** at me. Has anyone heard of hawks working together? I found 4 of my remaing six birds and began doing a serious hen hunt in the woods. Found one more than an hour later. I was heart broken thinking I lost two birds. 6 hours later wouldn't you know my last missing bird showed up at dusk. Man was I happy. So all in all only one casualty. [​IMG] The coopers hawks are a nesting pair and come around every fall/winter. They have been eyeing my chickens for years and finally killed one. I hate the thought of leaving my girls in all the time. Has anyone found once a hawk killed a bird the attack frequency increased? I can deal with losing a bird every year or so. I can't deal with losing one every week. I can't blame the hawks for wanting to eat a chicken. The hawks are gorgeous. It was a crazy experience and just had to share it. My first hen loss due to a predator. I intend to let the girls out again. How long would you wait? Can anyone share how often they lose hens to hawks? I am wondering what is an acceptable number for hen losses due to hawks? I want the girls out doing what they are supposed to be doing, not sitting cooped up. They hate being in the coop. Wish my wife was cool with a rooster. I bet a big ol rooster could have helped. Does anyone put additional things in there free range area for cover for the hens? Thanks for reading my story. If you could point me to a good thread or share I would appreciate it. I am surprised by how bummed I was about losing one of my ladies.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013

  2. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

    Jan 17, 2013
    Hi I have a hawk problem. just yesterday I came outside to see this huge hawk circling in the sky.i HAVE to keep my run covered it has a wire cover then a roof over head. I just have too many darn hawks to let them free range un attended. When I do let them out of the run I am ALWAYS with them checking the sky..I can't give them the freedom id like to and I h have such a small flock I can't bare to let the hawks get them. If I see the hawks in vision I won't even let them out of the run. I wish I didn't have so many darn hawks. My fear is one day when they are out even with me outside they will swoop down and get my girls. I have to watch them so closely. What's awful is the hawks live very near by so I'm constantly on guard. I know it sees my birds that's why it circles my property. I feel helpless against them. I wish I knew of something that would keep them away. .meanwhile my girls stay in their run unless I'm watching over them very closely. I really wish I had a answer to this hawk problem but I don't. What could I do other than keep them in their run with the hawks living so near by? I'm so sorry you lost your bird. The only solution I can figure is keeping them in a covered run. I wish you the best and if you have a better solution please let me know because hawks are a BIG problem where I live too. Best of luck to you and God Bless
  3. jrskol2000

    jrskol2000 Chirping

    Sep 7, 2010
    If I keep them in the run all the time they are not getting the benefits of free range eggs. They will poop the coop up and I will need to clean it often and I don't have the time for that. They have a large section of yard to free range and they love it. I couldn't possibly cover it. If I have to keep them in the coop all the time it will be a huge huge bummer. Stupid hawks, why can't you eat all the cats roaming my neighborhood. Keeping them cooped up in the run is not going to work for me. I hope these hawks don't ruin my chicken setup. I am bummed about these hawks. Thanks for a reply realsis
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  4. If you luck out the red tail hawks will eat the cooper hawks. They are both members of the family collectively called "Chicken Hawks."

    I never have tried this but I suspect that "chicken hawk" taste just like chicken.

    As far as (most) hawks working together or in tandem to bring down prey it just 'ain't' so. Hawks diet is similar to a buzzard's, meaning any meal already dead is better than any meal that you must kill yourself. I have seen a red tail hawk in the middle of a busy US highway eating a large road killed coon while fighting off 3 crows between bites. All the while a coopers hawk waited on a near by power line for his or her turn on the kill. You likely saw the same thing. Besides, if it "ain't" already it won't be long before the hawk breeding season will be in full swing. This means that the male hawks are out and about trying to empress the lady hawks with their powers as a provider.

    This all works together to make folks think that a hawk is capable of snatching up a full grown RIR rooster and flying away with him like a robin flying off with an Earth worm. The truth is that there is often a progression of raptors feeding rapidly on the same kill until there is so little left behind that taking off with the pitiful remains is work that even a poor little sharp shinned or blue darter hawk could do with ease.

    Quote: I would not be surprised to hear of a hawk swooping between some ones legs in pursuit of a chicken.
  5. jrskol2000

    jrskol2000 Chirping

    Sep 7, 2010
    I must admit the hawks are awesome. The coopers hawk was smaller than the red tails and I believe it did the killing. I let the hens out today for a few hours. They are going to have to be more vigil. I was surprised how long it took the hawks to attack. The have been eyeing them for years. These hawks could finish off my flock pretty quickly.
  6. nicole63021

    nicole63021 Songster

    I worry about all the red tails here, we've 3 different ones at least! There have been a couple of swoops down to our flock, thankfully the girls have places to hide. We are building a run now, as there are fox as well, but we set up staggered hide places near the fence plants and under certain trees and it helps with the hawks. The girls can hide if they need, while still foraging. We plan to plant taller flowers and add "decorations" to the garden and yard to help deter the hawks. Sadly, with the foxes, coons, and neighborhood cats, it will also be necessary to keep them in the run at times. We lost 2 young pullets to one of the cats, and have seen the fox kits out in daylight during weaning. Best of luck with your situation!
  7. LedgeWoods

    LedgeWoods Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    The reality is, be prepared to lose more birds. ...if you have that many of those aweful things around, you're guaranteed to have more attacks. They're like a bad penny you can't get rid of. October into November has always been the worst months for me. I've lost 11 since the beginning of this October reducing my flock to 24. Attacks were daily, every other day or sometimes just once or twice a week. Had nursed one of my 12 week old chicks back to health in summer after a hawk ripped open her crop...she was killed 20 feet from the coop this week ( that one hit me hard...there were tears and I just couldn't tell DD) I have another one right now that had her side pulled open (a 3x4" patch of skin) getting nursed back to health. I have 2 grown roosters, the flock free ranges (effective this week, only when someone is home). There are 3 hawks...I know this because all 3 were taking part in the Americana dinner last week. Seems they tend to go after the lighter colored birds of the flock. There are plenty of cedars, spruce, and hiding places for my free-rangers, but there are also plenty of perch areas for the hawks since the coop is near the edge of a woods. I used to have peacocks and didn't have problems then...getting more peas in spring to hopefully deter the pests.
    With gun-deer season starting, I'm hoping some of the reckless neighbors take some pot shots at the evil beasts.
    Good luck with your girls! Hope this answered some of your questions.

  8. ooltewah

    ooltewah In the Brooder

    Sep 10, 2013
    Ooltewah, TN
    I too have had issues with hawks. I've lost five bantams in all. I would have had a much larger loss if it wasn't for my roosters. I've witnessed them watching out and protecting. You said your wife didn't want one. And let me tell you I understand. I have had three scars from signification attacks from mine. He got really sick with a resp infection and I nursed him back and now he doesn't try to flog me. But I was determined to break him. One of our babies grew up to be a huge rooster. So I have been showing it that I am top dog and it's working. So- read the article about dealing with roosters on BYC and then beg your wife to give it a try
  9. silver-quail

    silver-quail In the Brooder

    Jun 20, 2013
    Aart has a point
  10. AlpineChick

    AlpineChick Hatching

    Apr 28, 2013
    Hi all -

    So sorry to hear of the losses that have recently occurred. I came on here tonight because a hawk attack just occurred today for the first time with my 8 chickens. I was feeling pretty confident about the hawks staying away from my chickens because they haven't bothered them since they first started wandering our large fenced-in free-range area, and that was 4 months ago. The chickens are just so happy! Well, until today. My husband heard the chickens calling out an "alarm" of sorts, and he ran out to witness a hawk right on top of our little black Silkie. He chased the hawk away and truly thought the Silkie was dead, went to grab a garbage bag (i.e. coffin), and when he came back she was missing! She had quickly scurried to the part of the run under the raised coop, where all of the others had gathered as well. The poor thing is actually okay, she has a little cut (which we can't see because of all of her crazy poofy black fuzz, but there's a little bleeding). I now realize how lucky I was that she wasn't killed. I feel terrible for all of you that have lost one or more of your sweet girls. I don't think I'm "farmer" material - I will never be able to control my emotions when it comes to these chickens. I am such a freakin' sap.

    Enough of the particulars of my story. Wanted to share a little bit of info that I have gleaned from some frantic research I have conducted in the past few hours. Here are some solutions that I've read:

    1. Use bird netting to cover your free-range area. If it's a large fenced area like mine, it will be necessary to install some posts throughout the middle of the area to support the netting so it won't sag in the middle. And my fence is only about 5 feet tall, so I will have to also install some poles around the perimeter so the netting will be high enough for us to walk in and out of the area. What a pain in the arse.

    2. Place one of those owl statues on top of your coop and on the poles to scare off the hawks. Apparently you need to move the owls frequently to different spots or the hawks will get wise to your trickery and realize the owl is a sham.

    3. Place aluminum pie pans or other shiny or sparkly materials in the trees (or whatever is near the area where your chickens hang out). This also deters the hawks, but the effectiveness of this is apparently up for debate.

    4. Purchase or adopt a livestock guardian dog (known as LGDs). So did not know what this was or that it existed, but there are breeds of dog that are natural livestock guardians and move to wherever your chickens are roaming at any given time. It's a time-consuming and lengthy process to buy these dogs as puppies and get them up and running in their job as protector, so I would imagine the best thing to do would try to find a grown LGD that already has experience with livestock. I've read that the best breeds for this are Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Akbash and Maremma. People debate back and forth about whether herding breeds of dogs work too, and some have had luck with Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, etc. But it seems that most people have found a clear distinction between HERDING dogs and LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN dogs.

    From all the info I have read, it seems that the two most effective ways to protect the flock when they are free-ranging are 1) to install the netting above the chickens' roaming area, and 2) to get a guardian dog to stay in the roaming area with the chickens.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I thought I would try to pass on this preliminary information and prevent you all from having to reinvent the wheel!

    Please, if anyone has had any luck with these approaches, or has successfully used another approach entirely, share it with us! I myself am a bit overwhelmed by all of this, and meanwhile the chickens are unhappy with confinement and scared to death. Good luck to everyone.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by