How do I know if it is a hawk or turkey vulture or what????

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by dandydoodle, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. dandydoodle

    dandydoodle Songster

    Sep 21, 2010
    Okay about two weeks ago we had an attempted hawk attack. I know because, I found a ton of feathers all over the ground and my roo had half of his saddle feathers ripped out. I have had everyone on lockdown for about two weeks now. I don't want this to be their permanent way of life though because, they are so much happier when they get to free range.

    Anyway, I started letting them free range again two days ago. Well when I started let them out yesterday I had what looked like either two hawks or turkey vultures circling over my land together. I shooed everyone back into the coop. How do I know if it is a hawk or a turkey vulture? If it is just turkey vultures I don't want to put them in another two week lock down but, I don't know it could have been hawks. My husband said if they fly in circles they are vultures. Does anyone know, can anyone help me???


  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Hawks are solitary birds; vultures group. Two large birds together would be vulture unless mating season. It's too early for mating season in my neck of the woods anyway.

    Also you can look in a bird book to familiarize yourself with the wing shape. Falcons, hawks, vultures all have very different silloettes.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  3. There are quite a few threads RE: turkey vultures on here, so you can do a search on this site:

    Here is one that has plenty of pics:

    Turkey vultures usually feed off carrion (already dead things), but I did have one visit my chicken coop one time. It landed on the top and looked into the upper vent window, then left.

    You may see hawks in pairs during this time, as it is mating and nesting season. The bigger the species the earlier they are because the young take so long to mature. And the young will stay close to the parents until migrating to learn hunting skills.

    I saw a mature bald eagle fly pretty low over the coop 2 days as I was watering, so otherwise it might have had chicken for breakfast. The peas alerted me to it.

    What you had visiting could have been hawk, owl or eagle. Keep an eye out to the skies to start learning to recognize. Also learn what is common to your area. Use this guide from the Hawk Migration Assoc. of No America:

    Owls will generally have a larger head looking like an ice creeam cone because they look more pointed to the back. They are usually dusk, night, and dawn hunters.

    I let mine out to free range every day & I do know that it is a risk.
    But the birds of prey are only doing what they need to do.
    They are protected.
    Good luck!

    edited for spelling!
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  4. dandydoodle

    dandydoodle Songster

    Sep 21, 2010
    Thanks, very helpful. Now hopefully I can tell the difference.

  5. MO-Chickie

    MO-Chickie In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2009
    Hi there - I did some research because we have a large population of turkey vultures that like to cruise SUPER close to the ground around my property. My first thought was they were scoping out my ladies for a meal. After doing some reading on the Missouri Conservation Department's website (I live in MO), I found out that vultures DO NOT take live prey ever. So while they're only 20 feet overhead, I don't have to worry about them snagging a hen. The enormous red tail hawk we have is another story...unfortunately it's illegal to shoot and is a large fine if you get caught, so I have to resort to scaring it off pretty regularly. :/

    Anyway, hope that helps!


  6. Yetti

    Yetti Songster

    we get snow yesterday and today we have Turkey Vultures buzzing the yard. ones a huge bugger. must be spring?
  7. comptonsgonecountry

    comptonsgonecountry Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    I look at color of the underside of the wings of the birds flying above. The vultures I have flying above have a dark underside to their wings and the hawks and bald eagles that we have fly over head have a light to white underside to their wings. Hopefully this makes sense. This has been my experience while working my farm and having my free range flock around. Like someone stated above... the vultures are in a group and the hawks right now are flying alone or in a pair.

    I do have to say, I love the crows! I now they are a nuisance to my corn crop but they sure do let us know when we have visitors above.
  8. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    OK, first of all, you really have no idea whether or not you've had a hawk attack. All sorts of animals will grab a bird, pull out a handful of feathers, and sometimes the bird will escape. You could have just as easily have had a dog attack. A dog who is juts playing and not hunting is much more likely to pull feathers and allow the bird to escape. Serious predators are less likely to allow a bird to escape from them.

    If you allow your birds to free range, you will have loses. If that is acceptible to you, then it is your choice. If that is not acceptible to you, keep your birds penned in secure housing.

    Vultures will often circle, but so will any other soaring bird, including Seagulls, if they find a good thermal current.

    Vultures are generally black, and I can't think of any hawk that is black. So what color are your soaring birds?
  9. dandydoodle

    dandydoodle Songster

    Sep 21, 2010
    Well I have had some Vultures. This post has helped me tell the difference. There has also been one hawk around and I am sure it was a hawk because, it was sitting on my neighbors driveway so I got a real up close look.

    The chances of it being a dog is very slim to impossible. We have a large privacy fence around the entire yard. That also is backed by chicken wire all the way around. It is a 10,000 dollar fence not some cheap thing we put together ourselves. The only way a dog could have got in is if it burrowed a big hole under the fence and if that was the case we would have found it. I guess it could have been a cat but, I don't think a cat would be strong enough to do that. I know some other animals could scale the fence but, it wasn't dusk yet and also I think the kind of predators that could scale a fence wouldn't stop at pulling some tail feathers. I still believe it was most likely a hawk because, they were close to my porch. Looks like it came down missed and got a big chunk of tail feathers and the whole gang probably ran under my porch and stayed there until the coast was clear. Them being under there would prevent the hawk from being able to dive again and getting them.

    I know we will have some losses but, I do want to keep it down as much as possible. Honestly if it was up to my birds I would think they would still choose to free range. They become restless and unhappy with out ever getting to free range. They have a nice coop but, it stills not the same as free ranging. I think they would prefer to be happy while they are here then being locked up all the time and unhappy.

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