Hawks! How do I keep them away?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by choven05, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    I have a huge backyard (almost an acre) that is fenced in and we let the chickens free range everyday. I've noticed hawks before, but this morning while I was out there one came down and tried to take a chicken (I have 8 amber links). She got away, but the hawk didn't stay away and came back with a "friend" and the 2 of them tried to take them right off the deck that is attached to our house. I don't want to keep them cooped up, I love that they can free range, but I don't know how to keep them away. We don't have any trees or bushes for them to hide under and there is nothing but open field around us. Any ideas??? I'm far to attached to my chickens to let a hawk take one away. This is my back yard. There is wire fencinginside the wood fencing, you just cant see it.

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  2. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Apr 7, 2011
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    My Coop
    Oh dear! What a tough situation. You property is as wide open as it gets!

    Well, you have a few options available to you, though they probably aren't going to be what you want. There is always risk whenever you free range, even if you take measures to reduce it. You CAN reduce the risk, but you really have to be okay with the thought that you still can lose a bird or two now and then.

    Here are a few things that can help reduce the chances of a hawk taking one of your birds:

    - Learn what species of hawk you are dealing with. Different species sometimes have different hunting tactics. Being armed with this knowledge can help you prepare.

    - Consider planting bushes and shrubs. Find species that grow low and are fairly thick. Having a place to 'dive into' can increase a chicken's chances of evading a hawk. Just be aware that hawks-- especially some species-- are not too concerned about rough and tumble and may well chase a chicken into a bush. Some will not.

    - Some people have had success with creating man-made hides and shelters. This can be a series of palettes set up on bricks, or old dog houses, etc. Just areas that a chicken can escape under. Note, again, though... some hawks will chase birds right into tight quarters!

    - You can try a scarecrow, and move it around often so that the hawk feels insecure in the presence of a "human". This loses effectiveness over time, and some hawks frankly don't care if there are people around. In such cases, a scarecrow will do you little to no good.

    - Consider a rooster. A good rooster will not only alert the hens (which on their own are alert but sometimes easily distracted) to danger, but he will tangle with a hawk head on to save a hen. Sometimes roosters come out of such encounters unscathed, sometimes they lose their life to protect the girls. Look for fast roos-- game roos are often very good protective roosters.

    - Some people swear by having other large birds around, such as geese, turkeys, or peacocks. This is something you should only consider if you want those birds anyhow-- and please know that a very determined (or desperate) hawk can still take even these large birds out. The key to having success with larger birds is to get more than one that will tangle with the hawk to protect flockmates. Sort of how a rooster would! This is a risky solution at best. It works for some people, and not for others.

    - Consider a livestock guardian dog. This is obviously a pretty big step so it is something to really carefully think over! It involves training the dog to protect the chickens (instead of becoming a predator!) and to be alert for danger not only from the ground but from the sky. Some breeds tend to be better at this than others. If you search for livestock guardian dog on the forum you will get a whole lot of threads!! It is a big commitment and a lot of work but a good livestock guardian dog is about the best protection a free ranging flock can have. A hawk simply won't risk its life to take a chicken if there is a large ground predator that would attack it! Hawks are not large enough to carry away a full grown large fowl chicken, and must eat their catch on the ground. That's too risky if a dog is near.

    - Keeping your birds in a large run or a chicken tractor with a fenced or netted top is the only real foolproof way to keep hawks off of them. I know this is a bummer because free ranging chickens is great-- but it is a decision only you can make.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Thank you for the info. I think we will try to get them some shelter in the yard so they have somewhere safe to run. We do have 2 boxers, 1 could care less about the chickens and just wanders around the yard. Our other dog is far to concerned with eating chickens to go after hawks. I'm going to look up what kind of hawks they are. I also noticed these were young birds. Not near as big as other hawks I have seen.

    My sister said that hawks can be territorial and that I maybe dealing with a family and not just one.

    We've thought about getting a rooster, but wasn't sure how hard it was to keep them. I've heard they are loud. Do you think a larger flock would deter the hawks in anyway? Like a safety in numbers thing? Or am I just giving them a bigger buffet?

    We have coyotes, raccoons, snakes and opossums. I never thought hawks would be the problem.
     
  4. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Thank you for the info. I think we will try to get them some shelter in the yard so they have somewhere safe to run. We do have 2 boxers, 1 could care less about the chickens and just wanders around the yard. Our other dog is far to concerned with eating chickens to go after hawks. I'm going to look up what kind of hawks they are. I also noticed these were young birds. Not near as big as other hawks I have seen.

    My sister said that hawks can be territorial and that I maybe dealing with a family and not just one.

    We've thought about getting a rooster, but wasn't sure how hard it was to keep them. I've heard they are loud. Do you think a larger flock would deter the hawks in anyway? Like a safety in numbers thing? Or am I just giving them a bigger buffet?

    We have coyotes, raccoons, snakes and opossums. I never thought hawks would be the problem.
     
  5. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop

    Hawks can be territorial, yes. They also migrate, and there are a number of factors that determine if they stick around or move on!

    A good rooster... emphasis on GOOD... is not hard to keep. He will protect the girls without over-breeding them, keep an eye on the sky (and ground), feed the girls treats, etc. They can be loud, you are right. It all depends on the breed, individual, and how he is feeling. Just something to think about. There are a lot of good roos out there, and a lot of jerks. You could try looking in the classifieds section of BYC to see if anyone needs a home for a good fellow. Getting an adult will let you know his personality. Just be sure to do a proper quarantine if you decide to go with a roo.

    A bigger flock, realistically, may or may not help. I think with a bigger flock that losses are easier to manage, vs. when you only have 3 or 4 birds, each loss is harder to deal with. The only safety in numbers is that there are more eyeballs to see danger with, but a hawk will still pick the strays that wander away from the group.

    You could try offering a lot of panic shelters either via man made objects or low thick shrubs, in combination with your well behaved dog just as a visual deterrent. Even if your 'cares less about chickens' dog doesn't actively protect the chickens, even his presence near them can deter a hawk quite a bit. Young hawks can be sort of stupid and inexperienced, but older ones have lived long enough to know that a dog would make short work of them on the ground and may well not risk it.

    Good luck!!
     
  6. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Thank you again. I think I'm dealing with Cooper Hawks. I've looked up a few things. One thing that will help is not letting them out first thing in the am. I was letting them out around 7-7:30. I've learned that's kinda asking for trouble. I'll let them into the run in the am, and then let them free range later in the day.

    I also am going to look on BYC and see if anyone needs to re-home a rooster. I might need to expand my coop some to get a bigger flock and I'm not sure it I'm ready for that. My husband told me not to get to attached that these were not "pets", but I didn't listen and have even names some. I hate to think what it would be like to lose on of them, but also understand it comes with the territory. Doesn't mean I like it though.

    Thanks again for all the help with this.
     
  7. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Thank you again. I think I'm dealing with Cooper Hawks. I've looked up a few things. One thing that will help is not letting them out first thing in the am. I was letting them out around 7-7:30. I've learned that's kinda asking for trouble. I'll let them into the run in the am, and then let them free range later in the day.

    I also am going to look on BYC and see if anyone needs to re-home a rooster. I might need to expand my coop some to get a bigger flock and I'm not sure it I'm ready for that. My husband told me not to get to attached that these were not "pets", but I didn't listen and have even names some. I hate to think what it would be like to lose on of them, but also understand it comes with the territory. Doesn't mean I like it though.

    Thanks again for all the help with this.
     
  8. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2008
    Missouri
    I know some have had success with shrubs and man made shelters but my experience is that a hawk whether it be a red tail, coopers, harris etc will eventually come to ground and panic the hens from out of the shelter and then catch one as it runs in panic. I witnessed them doing it. Hawks also don't seem to have fear of humans as other predators do. I darned near had to kick a red tail off a small bantam rooster a couple of Saturdays ago. He was not afraid of me, he then flew to the telephone pole and watched for a good 10 minutes.
    A covered run or supervision will free ranging is the only sure fire way to prevent losses to hawks.
     
  9. humphrey farms

    humphrey farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 28, 2012
    Naples Maine
    I had a hawk try to grab one of my Silverlaced Wyandotte hens yesterday in our mowed one acre field. Our rooster screamed the warning as well as the 6 mos. old cockerel. 18 Hens scattered everywhere screeching! Bedlam for sure! [​IMG]. All the hawk got was a few feathers.[​IMG] Our field is open but fenced like yours and our dogs have freedom to come & go through a doggie door into this area. The dogs keep the bigger predators away at night by going outside and barking but the hawk was different. Luckily I ran outside and it flew off. We do have steps for them to hide under as well as a few lean toos for shade. The broody hen's peeps hid in the long grass that we let grow high and deep in the corners of the fenced area. She was panicked calling her chicks after the fact. Luckily we didn't lose anybody!!![​IMG] But it was scary! The chaos overwhelming for a few minutes. Whew...
     
  10. choven05

    choven05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    I'm in the process of looking for a rooster now. We've talked about getting one so that we don't have to replace our chickens by buying new ones. It was suggested to me to try BYC and see if anyone was looking to re-home one. I've looked around and there are a few available, but they aren't what I'd call close to drive to. Is it possible to ship them?

    Also, and idea what kind of mothers amber links chickens make? I got 8 at TSC this spring and didn't know they were hybrids until I joined this forum.
     

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