Pale silver gray hawk?

cowgirl boots

In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 23, 2011
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We have 2 hens and an almost 3 week old chick that recently hatched. We live in a suburb on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I allow them to free range around their small yard (25x30) during the day. I say all of that to say, this morning the momma hen was making unusual and loud sounds. I went outside to their yard and couldn't see the baby anywhere. As I opened the gate, I saw a large pale gray hawk or owl (?) fly silently away. The momma kept squawking for several moments. I saw no sign of chick. Then, I heard the chick start peeping! It came out from hiding between some stumps I have set up for the chickens to sit on. Phew!! I rounded them up and locked them in their pen. Any idea of what this might be. It looked large- 36" wingspan. I only remember seeing light gray coloration, with perhaps some lighter gray lacing. I have been keeping chickens here for almost 2 years and have not lost one to predators. However, this is my first time to have a baby chicken being raised the yard.
 
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cowgirl boots

In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 23, 2011
44
0
29
Thank you. Based on your suggestion, I researched the peregrine falcon and can't rule it out. I read that the these migrate through my area in the winter, so maybe it was ahead of schedule. Audubon handbook says the younger ones are paler in color, and that the females are bigger than males. So perhaps it was a young lady. It also classifies them as "crow sized" approx. 20 inches. Maybe it looked bigger because I was quite stunned when I saw it. I only saw it from the back, wish I could've seen the face or belly.
 
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Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
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451
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Texas
As I opened the gate, I saw a large pale gray hawk or owl (?) fly silently away.


Were you seeing the underside of the hawk or owl? If so, it could have been various hawks or owls.

I suggest going to Google and searching for hawks in Mississippi and then searching for owls in Mississippi. Maybe you will see a picture that looks like the bird you saw.

I believe the Red Tailed Hawk is the most common hawk species in Mississippi.
 
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cowgirl boots

In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 23, 2011
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29
Thank you. I will continue to research. While looking up Red Tail Hawk, I came across Cooper's hawk; it's coloring was more like what I saw. I only saw the back (or top) of the wings spread out and the bird flying way from me. Thank you for responding.
 
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Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
2,380
451
251
Texas
Thank you. I will continue to research. While looking up Red Tail Hawk, I came across Cooper's hawk; it's coloring was more like what I saw. I only saw the back (or top) of the wings spread out and the bird flying way from me. Thank you for responding.


I did a search for chicken hawk, and found some information.

Chicken hawk describes three species of hawks in North America -- the Cooper's Hawk, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and the Red-Tailed Hawk.

So I would guess that there is a good chance the hawk you saw was one of those. And since you said it looks like a Cooper's Hawk, most likely that was it.

I never heard of a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, though.
 

cowgirl boots

In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 23, 2011
44
0
29
Thanks Chicks Galore 3 and Bullit. Whatever the silent silver stalker was, I know it wanted to snack on chicken. I had started leaving their pen open so mom and chick could free range, but now I don't feel comfortable doing that. I guess it wasn't after the hens, but wanted the little nugget. I hate to keep them confined to the run, but may have to until baby gets bigger.
 
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