How heavy of a chicken can a hawk carry away?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Chickiee, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. Chickiee

    Chickiee Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am curious... When people mention attacks on their chickens by hawks, how big are the chickens? Can a hawk carry a full grown standard size chicken? Or, is it more a concern for bantams and younger chickens?
  2. GoldenSparrow

    GoldenSparrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    I would like to know as well?
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    An owl can carry a toy poodle away (happened to my MIL). I mention owls too since they go after chickens as well right before dark near trees.

    A hawk will eat on the ground if it finds a large fowl that is too heavy. Sorry I don't know how heavy is too heavy.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  4. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2011
    My experience is, they will kill and eat on the ground anything too heavy to pick up and carry. They don't need to be able to carry it away to kill and eat it. I only wish that I didn't have the experiences first hand :(
    sourland likes this.
  5. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Without looking it up, my memory says they can carry 25% of their own weight.

    Since most hawks are 2 pounds or less, a chicken is beyond their capability. The eagles and the Great Horned Owl can carry a chicken, at least for a short distance.. Mostly, though a raptor is going to break the chicken down into parts and carry pieces, if it needs to carry food to the nest.

    The small hawks aren't much danger unless you have tiny chickens or baby chicks. There is no vet for wild animals. An injured hawk will soon be a dead hawk, so they tend to be careful to not get hurt. A 1-2 pound hawk isn't going to risk an 8 pound hen unless he is absolutely certain he can handle it. Unless he was raised by parents who fed him chicken, he isn't going to make an attempt just to see whether or not the chicken can hurt him.

    There are large hawks who will kill chickens, but I suspect they can't carry the whole bird off.

    If complete chickens are disappearing without a trace, I'd be more inclined to think fox, raccoon, coyote, or stray dog.
    sourland likes this.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My red-tailed hawks and great-horned owls are about same size with similar capacities for carrying a chicken. Starting from ground neither has been able carry even a red jungle rooster (slightly larger than an OEG) that has just been killed. They can carry a something the size of a fox squirrel (about half to 2/3 the weight of a bantum but that requires a lot of effort. When I allow a raptor such as a red-tail to finish cleaning up a carcass, it takes two or three days before enough is consumed before hawk can fly off with balance. Usually it does not.

    When feeding chicks, hawks and owls seem pickier about size of what they target. They may need to pack it a good ways. Males Cooper that I observed take a couple dominique chicks had to really labor to pack a catch that was less than 1/2 lb.
  7. chickers

    chickers Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 18, 2012
    Gold Country California
    Hawks don't need to be able to carry a chicken to kill it. We lost a splash laced red Wyandotte hen to a hawk that killed her and was eating her about 10 feet from our sliding glass door.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    The can kill birds larger than themselves (great-horned owl can take an adult wild turkey
    ) but depending on your management system, such losses can avoided by making it so raptor can not comfortably eat on ground.
  9. TammyP

    TammyP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2009
    SW Wisconsin
    I just had a hawk try to take one of my large light brahmas.... she was too big to carry away although it tried 3 times before we scared it off...... I think it was too heavy and with all the fluffy feathers they have, it just couldn't get a good enough grip either....

  10. In the Wild

    In the Wild New Egg

    Oct 30, 2011
    McKenna, WA
    A hawk attacked a call duck and we went out to chase it away. It flew to the nearest tree, perched on the lowest branch and watched us. It's too late, what can you do? I thought 'waste not, want not' and went back inside. He stayed on that branch until dark, then I buried Strawberry (poor Strawberry!). After sunrise the next day HE CAME BACK TO CHECK. I don't think it was ever his intention to carry the duck away, I think it was convenience. Now an eagle on the other hand....

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by