Peregrine Falcon in Hen Yard!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by JamWest1007, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. JamWest1007

    JamWest1007 New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2007
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    Hi All!

    I love this site and use it often for its invaluable information, but have only posted a couple of times. My family has 11 hens and 3 ducks.

    Yesterday the craziest thing happened and I am hoping someone here may be able to offer some suggestions...

    At 1:20 in the afternoon, while eating lunch, we heard the strangest Kak, Kak sound coming from the hen yard, immediately followed by the sound of our girls going crazy. My older son (almost 15) jumped up and ran for the hen yard. I followed, and found him yelling at a huge bird as it flew away. I didn't get a good look, as it flew off over the garage, but my son was face-to-face with it for several seconds. He found it on top of our little bantam Hillary, hen in his talons, pecking at her head, while 6 of our full-size hens were pecking at it! (YAY, girls!) We cooped the girls and examined Hillary to make sure she was OK. She had a small puncture on the back of her head, and was quivering in fear, but appeared otherwise uninjured. We cleaned her up and put her in the coop with the rest of the girls and started researching what it was we had seen and heard, and how to protect the girls from it.

    We deal with a variety of predators here in Nebraska...raccoons, fox, feral cats, coyotes and red-tailed hawks, to name a few. But this was new to us. We got online and found a listing of all of the predatory birds here in Nebraska and found coordinating images to go with each. When he saw the photos, my son was absolutely certain it was a Peregrine Falcon, which identically matched the description he had given me. When we were able to find an audio file, it was confirmed. And that darn bird...she circled our house for hours. She disappeared for a short time twice, then back she'd come. At one point she was within 20 feet, and there is no question, she was a Peregrine Falcon. I never expected that...and I certainly never expected to find one in our hen yard, middle of the day, 10 feet off of the house.

    So here is the question...what do we do now? How do we inexpensively protect the girls from overhead predators? Our hen house is quite large at 8'x12', but I really don't want to keep the girls cooped all of the time. The hen yard is "L" shaped with the main portion being roughly 30'x50' and the small portion being approximately 8'x20'. Which would be horribly expensive to cover completely. It has 5' wire fencing around its perimeter which is anchored to the ground, and is attached to both the house and garage. There are a variety of tall grasses and weeds in the yard, along with several younger saplings for cover. Combined with our 3 dogs, moving it against the house and providing lots of cover seems to have kept away overhead predators until recently. We really need a cheap, but effective, solution. Any great suggestions? We could sure use them. [​IMG]

    Thanks, all!
    Jammie
     
  2. silkiechick05

    silkiechick05 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow!

    I am glad that she is okay!


    I have heard that many people hang CDs up to deter hawks...


    I don't know if it will work on that falcon though....
     
  3. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    If it were I, I'd section off a small part of the area with a five-foot fence and cover it with netting until the falcon got out of Dodge City.
     
  4. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

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    Mansfield, MO
    Knock on wood we have never once had a hawk or other sky predator go into the run. Our run is about 20x50. We strung filament line (a strong fishing line would work) and tied cd's from the lines. I have five lines with one or two cd's hanging/dangling from each line. Light reflects off the cd's and they spin with a breeze. Even if it is cloudy they reflect. Speckled Hen's coops and runs are set up that way and we learned from her. THEY WORK and they are CHEAP.
     
  5. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

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    I found a pic I had posted last winter of our run. You can see the cd's [​IMG]
     
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Criss-cross pen with polypropylene twine and hang pie tins or CD's from it. Also, can put several shelters they can duck under . All will discourage swoop & grab, but will not stop outright landing and walking up to chooks and killing one, especially chicks. Only way to be completely safe is aviary netting or deer netting. Aviary comes in 25 ft wide rolls. Don not know abt deer netting sizes. Will need center support structure in wide area of run. Conduit set in ground in very small amount of cement, say as large as a coffee can for each one. Pr treated 2x4's between , all in a straight row down center of run and higher than sides. Maybe 10-12 ft tall. Drape over it and secure to top of pen/fence. It is plastic so will eventually deteriorate with sunllight/UV and time. Chicken wire would last forever tho, but harder to do. Then forget hawks and worry about coons! Electrification will take care of them.
     
  7. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I thought that Perigrines nested on cliffs... are you in Western Nebraska or are they nesting on some tall building in Omaha or Lincoln?
     
  8. JamWest1007

    JamWest1007 New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2007
    Nebraska
    Thanks so much for your suggestions, everyone! My husband is on his way to our farm store to grab either filament line or twine. We are going to start with the grid and CDs/pie plates, although we are guessing this will need to be a temporary solution, as aggressive as that falcon was. He is also going to price a bag of netting and see if we can at least afford to cover the area that we are calling the "landing strip", the one open area in the run. Hopefully in the spring we can begin to cover the entire structure, and reinforce the fences with buried hardware cloth along the bottom couple of feet. I will keep you all posted. [​IMG]

    Mahonri, we do live within hunting range of Lincoln, and are in the middle of 110 acres of farm land, with water on the property...apparently, ideal hunting location for the Peregrine. We are also within sight of several towers, which they will also use for nesting. We are going to try to talk to the Games and Parks Dept. tomorrow and see if they can confirm whether we have any nesting pairs in the immediate vicinity, or if we are dealing with the Lincoln nest locations. Interesting information for us to have, if nothing else. [​IMG]

    Thanks again everyone!
    Jammie
     
  9. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    One thought, you don't have to make it falcon PROOF, just make it as unappealing as possible so he/she will move out to look for pigeons and small game that are out in the open elsewhere.

    One other thing, it seems that having turkeys or geese or other large birds discourages hawks or falcons. The danger of blackhead being a problem with turkeys is there of course, but if you have any desire to get geese, it may be helpful, though that is a long term aid, not an immediat solution [​IMG] .
     
  10. ellieroo

    ellieroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Peregrines are usually following the ducks south or north so he/she maybe passing thru! Can you give ground cover bushes /wooden hide outs anything to duck and cover in?? My husband has racing pigeons and twice a year the hawks swing by and we have to be very watchful.Altho in a flat race the pigeon will win. Tis something to watch!
     

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