Predator behavior

HeatherKellyB

Crowing
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May 31, 2019
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First let me apologize for the multiple post today. Thank you for the shared knowledge and guidance. I am so grateful for the folks here.

I have some roosters that free range every day. In the evening, I let my girls out to free range and the boys go up at that time. Everyone pretty much stays right around my dog grooming shop which is right outside the house. I have some small bantam girls and some LF. Today, about an hour before dark, I was in the shop and noticed something dark fly by the window. I figured it was my Dutch Bantam flying around but it wasn't. About 15 minutes later, I noticed something dark fly by the window again and I went outside to almost every single one of my birds sounding off and some of the smallest ones hiding under some wood that lays against the shop, to give the birds cover in case of a Hawk. There were several birds that had wondered off by themselves, my blue silkie with a huge crest that doesn't notice much, being one of them. Do Hawks swoop down to annoy birds? I thought they were more likely to stay back and watch for the perfect time to attack instead of what was going on tonight. I can't really give a good description of what I saw because it was just out of the corner of my eye. I only know that it was darkish and seemed to be the size of an adult crow. I quickly ran all of the bantams into my shop and stayed right beside the other girls and watched carefully. Of course I didn't see anything else. I'm just curious if this sounds like typical Hawk behavior. We have a lot of vultures around and I see them daily throughout the day. I've heard owls hooting at night. We have lost a Drake months ago right before dark and there was only 1 wing feather to be found anywhere, so I believe a Hawk or owl took him.
 

HeatherKellyB

Crowing
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Also, if I don't keep any of my roosters or cockerels with any of my girls and let them out together, the boys will be more focused on mating than they will on protecting or alarming, right?

Edited to add that I guess that really depends on the bird.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
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You might want to keep your birds in for a few days at least, and see who comes by. If it was a crow or raven, fine. If a hawk, not so good.
Here almost all our losses to hawks have been either youngsters or bantams. That's not a sure thing though, and for any rooster to effectively 'fight one off' depends on pure luck, and a big rooster. With experience, roosters will give warning calls to get everyone under cover, which does help. Often 'experience' means a previous bad event though.
Mary
 

HeatherKellyB

Crowing
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Thank you for your reply and sharing your knowledge and experience. I really appreciate that.
Due to spacing and problems with planned integrations, I have to let 3 roosters free range during the day. It can either be 3 bantams (blue silkie, large white silkie and barred bantam cochin) that normally free range all day every day or 3 LF (barred rock and 2 BCM X CCL) that got to free range for many months until 2 of them started to show human aggression. Since I work here and have clients coming by, I couldn't have them being jerks to my clients. Today, I only have one client that has already dropped off and this client is very familiar with the jerk boys and a friend of mine. With that said, it'd probably be safer, if the LF guys spent time free ranging, right? I imagine it's easier for a Hawk to take off with a bantam than it'd be to take on a very close LF bachelor Flock, although not impossible by any means.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
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When you free range, that is the risk you take. Not sure why you have so many males unless you are planning on breeding. When you free range you will loose a bird/birds sooner or later. I agree that either a hawk but likely an owl killed your drake. Owls tend to hunt at dusk and dawn but will at other times at night. Good luck...
 

HeatherKellyB

Crowing
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I have more cockerels and roosters than these 6, but they're in bachelor flocks. I intended on integrating these 6 guys together, but it didn't go well as the bantams were ruthless in attacking them and things got bloody fast. I have them because I am a softie and a very convincing 9 year old daughter that loves all of the birds. I planned on culling the 2 LF roosters but I haven't had the heart to do it, especially after reading some horror stories about the cull not going well.

Is the dive bombing typical behavior of hawks?
Thank you for your reply and sharing your knowledge with me
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
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Nov 18, 2007
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We have a local farm swap twice a month. I hatch so many chicks of which around half will be males that I sell most of the males and only keep my best as my future breeders. I do grow them out and do put them in bachelor coops and pens. I can't keep them all. I don't know what your feed bill is like but if you can afford to feed them all, that's fine. I would tell my daughter to pick out a couple of her favorites and sell the rest. That is just my recommendation. I'm not telling you what to do only what I would do. Good luck...
 

HeatherKellyB

Crowing
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May 31, 2019
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Moore County, NC
We have a local farm swap twice a month. I hatch so many chicks of which around half will be males that I sell most of the males and only keep my best as my future breeders. I do grow them out and do put them in bachelor coops and pens. I can't keep them all. I don't know what your feed bill is like but if you can afford to feed them all, that's fine. I would tell my daughter to pick out a couple of her favorites and sell the rest. That is just my recommendation. I'm not telling you what to do only what I would do. Good luck...
Thank you. I appreciate your wisdom and advice. You're right, my feed bill has grown to a lot more than I ever anticipated. I don't know the exact amount, but I know they're going through more than 50lbs of Purina Flock Raiser each week. I need to figure out how much more to help put things into perspective for myself. This doesn't include the ducks but there are only 4 of them and only 2 are heavyweight breeds. Plus, there's no worry about the ducks injuring is like some of my jerk roosters. All of this has been weighing heavily on my mind recently so I really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again.

No sign of the dive bomber tonight, thankfully. I only had the LF girls free ranging and my daughter and I followed them around. Planning on doing this for the next few days or until I feel more comfortable (I'll never feel completely comfortable so this is why I make sure I am able to stay with the girls whenever they're out and I know this is still not going to keep them safe forever). I'd hate to be so far down on the food chain. It's stressful to even think about
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
25,168
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All of my birds have nice large pens. I was tired of worrying all of the time. Now I have electric wires around the coops and pens, but I have a lot of birds, concrete under the gates and good heavy duty netting covering the pens, all due to losses in the past. Again good luck...
IMG_20180503_094047.jpg
 

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