Latest Crisis... Hawks!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by loralei, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. loralei

    loralei Chillin' With My Peeps

    287
    0
    119
    Jun 4, 2009
    New Caney, Texas
    Rudy's incessant crowing has alerted every hawk in the county to the presence of my girls! I usually let the girls run about the yard for a couple hours when I get home from work. It's so relaxing to watch them pecking about. I have noticed a hawk hanging around for a while and now he has a friend. When I went out to check on the girls the other day one of them was sitting on a fence post dangerously close to the barn. He must be young. He's not much bigger than my biggest hen and he just hangs out and watches them. The other one is MUCH larger... gianormous really!

    I've been shooting in their direction... not to kill but just to scare them away. It's not working so well anymore. The old timers in my area have told me the only way to be rid of them is to kill them. They really are lovely. I don't want to do that but I don't want to provide them with an all you can eat chicken buffet either (nor do I want to get in trouble with the game warden!). Is there a humane way to run em' off?

    Thanks ya'll!
     
  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
    139
    281
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I don't think it's your rooster's fault that the hawks know about your chickens. They have incredible eyesight and notice every important detail in their habitat.

    The best defense against hawks is to have covered runs. You can use lightweight wire, or deer netting, or plastic mesh, even twine strung back & forth across the pen. You can further distract the hawks by hanging things that move & are shiny, like CDs or mirrors or pinwheels. And place mirrors face up on top of the coop.

    If you free range you chickens you can give them protection by having places for them to run under & hide when the hawks approach. Bushes, umbrellas, patio furniture, even plywood sheets set up on blocks. Your rooster should be watching out for them & giving the warning call whenever a hawk approaches. Chickens have one word they say when anything flies overhead, and a particular bad word they say when that thing is a hawk.

    I know there are hawks that can & do catch full-grown healthy chickens. But the ones around here seem to target the chicks and the weak or injured chickens, prefering those who are the easiest targets.
     
  3. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,832
    17
    221
    Jan 25, 2008
    Killing hawks is a huge no-no. "If" you decide to go ahead and kill a federally protected bird, get rid of all the evidence and say NOTHING. It is a serious offense. Some raptors are even tracked via satellite, so please be careful.

    While I understand the want to protect your birds, when it comes to hawks and other raptors, you have to think defensive and not offensive. You need covered runs for your birds. I know we all like to see our birds blissfully unaware, digging and rooting, but it does come with a risk of losing birds. If a covered run is out of the picture, look into shelters located throughout the ranging area, that way if the chickens spot the hawks, they can run for cover. Still even with this method, it usually takes the sacrifice of one chicken to a hawk, to make the others truly wary.

    Your best bet is a covered run. I let mine out during supervised free ranging, but I know that I run the risk of a hawk grabbing them. Any birds I would be horribly upset were nabbed, are not let out. Period.
     
  4. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,993
    20
    176
    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    If netting or chicken wire cannot be used in your place, try criss-crossing the run with the polypropylene twine they sell at co-ops or tractor supply stores. It is cheap and will last a few years. Hawks will see it and will be afraid to swoop in for a snatch and grab. They may well just land and walk up to a chicken and kill it tho. It has happened to chicks for sure. They may attack a full grown bird too, even if they fail. The big guy sounds like a chicken hawk.

    Rule of thumb is "shoot, shovel, and shut up" Best if shoveling is done away out somewhere away from your place, or maybe a night time visit to a dumpster somewhere? Or, thoroughly burn carcass to be sure any transponder is killed along with the pred.
     
  5. MimiChick

    MimiChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    244
    7
    121
    Apr 8, 2009
    Glocester, RI
    I lost a chicken to a hawk last week. I let my girls out in the yard when I'm home and they are in a covered run when I'm not. They tend to stay right near the tree line and just inside the woods, but even that didn't help poor Snowflake. Part of the problem is that she was so visible (she was a bright white) that even under cover the hawk could see her and get her.
    As much as I like to free range my girls - only supervised from now on and any new girls I get will have a little more natural camoflage.
     
  6. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Chillin' With My Peeps

    358
    0
    129
    Apr 26, 2009
    Reva, VA
    you could try something like this.

    http://www.biconet.com/birds/scareEye.html



    Disadvantages I can think of right off.

    No birds except robins

    Chickens might take exception to them also....at least until they were used to them.
     
  7. loralei

    loralei Chillin' With My Peeps

    287
    0
    119
    Jun 4, 2009
    New Caney, Texas
    Thanks for all the great suggestions! Once they move to the big girl coop they will have a covered run but it's still nice to see them pecking about in the yard. Currently I "casually" supervise them when they're out. I have soooo over engineered the coop, run and even the pen they are in now to make them as peditor proof as possible that I will sleep just fine knowing I have done my best. [​IMG] It just makes me really uncomfortable when the hawks are sitting so close to the barn... waiting!

    Do you think the hawks will give up and move on once they realize they can not get to my girls?

    Could the hawks be relocated by maybe the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept?

    I am getting babies next week and would like the hawks gone before I move them to the pen in the barn at 4 weeks.

    Thanks again for all the fabulous advice and support!
     
  8. loralei

    loralei Chillin' With My Peeps

    287
    0
    119
    Jun 4, 2009
    New Caney, Texas
    So sorry to hear about Snowflake, MiMiChick but thank you for sharing. It's stories like yours that make me realize I need to be more cautious.

    Adios Snowflake! You will be missed!
     
  9. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Chillin' With My Peeps

    358
    0
    129
    Apr 26, 2009
    Reva, VA
    Good point about "over engineering". There comes a point where you have to get a balance and live with the fact that the chickens are at the low end of the food chain. Just do what you're comfortable with and expect some losses.

    Of course, not the loss of your favorite (which is all of them). Ooops I've over engineered my love for them.

    Peeps are probably at more risk with a hawk and hawks don't just run around killing for the sake of killing like a coon.
     
  10. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,497
    16
    246
    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    I've just tried the CD suggestions, and so far it seems to be working well, either that or the hawks haven't noticed my birds yet
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by