It only took 6 months... I just lost my favorite chicken to a hawk

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by itsazoo, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. itsazoo

    itsazoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2008
    Western PA
    I'm attached to all of them but this one especially. As a chick she'd pulled muscles or something in her leg and I nursed her for quite some time so I'm extra sad. I try not to name them but we called her Wobbles.

    Anyway... I know that it's a risk you run to free range but it still sucks. I just can't bear to see them in a pen. They LOVE being free to go wherever they please. (So please don't tell me I'm a bad chicken mom because I leave them out!)

    I have 23 girlsl now ranging in size from Golden Hamburgs to White Giants. I have 20 acres and the girls probably cover about 5 of it. There is LOTS of cover from big pine trees all over the property and big bushes etc. but there's plenty of open space too which they've been getting braver and braver about going into. The hawk got her right in front of the house where they come regularly for snacks and to say hi.

    It happened right before we got home. I'd seen a smaller hawk (kestrel sized) flying about and wasn't too worried due to the chickens being bigger than the hawk. It seems now that it was a juvenile I'd been seeing because today, while trying to clean up the remains and get the other girls in the coop (against their will I might add) we saw 2 together and one was MUCH bigger.

    Sooo I've read all about the CD's and I'll be hanging them and pie pans tomorrow (fortunately I have no close neighbors to think I'm extra nuts) but what I'm worried about is will that help in the open areas? The open spaces where they roam range in size from maybe 1/8 to 1/4 acre in size without any cover except on the edges. I was also wondering about owl decoys?

    I'm going to keep them locked in the coop for a few days until I haven't seen the hawks around, but they're smart and with it getting near winter AND with it being a mom & young I don't know if I'll be able to get rid of them.

    One more thing... anyone ever hear of the hawk going INTO the cover to get the chickens? No wait, 2 things- Will hawks mess with the big breeds like Giants & Brahmas too?

    Sorry for the rambling, but I know everyone here will understand.
     
  2. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Sorry for your loss.

    This time of year is when hawks are especially dangerous in many parts of the country. You likely have very hungry migratory hawks passing through.

    I wouldn't rule out a hawk going into an enclosure if they can see prey through a doorway; I had a large cooper's trying rather hard to get into my roofed run a while back. I doubt they would go into a confined area without sighting prey though.
     
  3. itsazoo

    itsazoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2008
    Western PA
    Being where we are in western Pennsylvania I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case! I hadn't even thought of that. Do they stick around very long when migrating? I've seen the small bird as much as a week ago. I did think it odd when it showed up as we do have an OLD redtail female that lives on the property and basically keeps to herself & eats mice in the fields. I sort of figured she was our protection from other hawks.
     
  4. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    So sorry about your girl [​IMG] I know just how you feel. I let mine out all day and they've become brazen in the open areas also. It doesn't help that I cut back bushes for winter and the leaves are all down now either!

    I like to let them out all day too and hawks are my biggest threat. Hopefully you can keep them in the run for a few days and the hawks will pass. They are around alot in winter also. I have quite a few wild doves disappear right from my bird feeder by hawks all winter. The chickens probably won't be out too much in the winter when we have heavy snow cover, so I'm hoping I won't lose any.
     
  5. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Quote:I suppose it depends on how hungry they are, how much food is around, and how late in the season it is getting.

    I only saw that big Cooper's hawk around for a few hours that one day, haven't seen it since. I have seen several different hawks that we had not normally been seeing, though. We get a lot passing through in the fall, and I've not generally seen them stick around.

    We get more hawk activity in the mornings most of the year. Hawks feed in the mid to late afternoons too, but ours must go elsewhere. I rarely see the regulars past lunchtime. In the fall, though, we get all sorts.

    We only let our chickens out to forage in the afternoon, and I'm more careful about making sure the dog is out with them during the fall.
     
  6. itsazoo

    itsazoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2008
    Western PA
    The dogs are good advice. I'll make sure my lab/golden retriever is outside, maybe it'll give him something to do with all his bird dog heritage since he's not allowed to chase the chickens. Although since he's not allowed to chase them he doesn't hang around up there very much.

    I have no run for my girls, just the coop, and while it's 7+' tall and about 12' x 9' it's still not a lot of room for 23 chickens so they'll be awfully unhappy for a few days.
     
  7. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Mine's a German Shepherd Dog, and he chases away any flying thing bigger than a blue jay. He seems to have learned to put up with the crows, maybe because they tell him when to wake up and bark at everything else.

    He especially has something against 737s. It must work, he barks, chases them across a couple acres, and they always leave. Same with the police helicopter that flies over a couple times a day; it hasn't landed yet. I guess that's enough to keep the hawks off the chickens. They won't risk a dog that wants a match with two cops and a helicopter.
     
  8. chickenshagg

    chickenshagg THE ALPHA ROO

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    Apr 18, 2009
    St. Charles, MO
    I'm saddened by your loss. I have an uncovered run that my chickens are kept in during the day while I am away from home. When I get home I always go and let them out to free range for a few hours. One particular day I went out opened the door so they could go out. I had only turned and taken a few steps when I heard my rooster scream and then the girls started screaming. I turned around to see them running for cover into the woods as a big Red Tail Hawk was swooping down at them. I couldn't believe it because I was standing right there. The Chickens all made it to cover and I saw the Hawk land on a tree branch above the brush that the chickens were all in. My first thought was to get my gun that I keep ready for coons but I know that it is against the law to kill a Hawk so I just picked up a big walnut off the ground and threw it at it. My throw was right on target but the Hawk was just a little too quick as it jumped up and the walnut soared under it. It flew off. I went and got some string and zig zaged it across the top of the run since I had no fencing to completely close the run off. I was pleased that my rooster sounded the alarms for the girls and nobody got hurt.

    It was not even a week later though that I had everyone out free ranging on a Saturday as my son and I worked on the coop and also worked in the yard. It was starting to get dark when my son asked me where the rooster was. He said that all the girls were over by the house but the rooster was no where around. I never saw the rooster without at least one of the girls with him. We looked all around calling and whistling but could not find the rooster. My wife and my other son came out to help look. My wife called out to me that my oldest son had just found some feathers in the brush. I got a flashlight and crawled back to where he was and saw a big pile of feathers and drag marks in the leaves and mud. I first thought that a fox must have gotten him but since then I have had some neighbors tell me that on that day they saw a coyote walking the creek behind our houses.

    I tell you this story because I understand your loss and I also struggle with keeping them locked up or allowing them to Free Range. I have decided to continue and let them Free Range when I am home. I know that the dangers are still out there but as I tell people who question me after my loss I would rather them have a happy life than for them to be kept in a cage their whole life. I have taken some precautions though. The next day after my rooster was taken my oldest son and I went out and cleared all the brush and undergrowth around the coop and run. There is still some cover but at least with this area being cleared a coyote or fox has lost his place to hide and pounce on the chickens.
     
  9. hollyshenhobby

    hollyshenhobby New Egg

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    Sep 11, 2009
    i put extra t posts in the open spaces of my pens a few touloose geese in with them..it seemed to work he watches but hasnt came down in a month. and i put my babies in a flight pen with chicken coop wire across the top
     

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