Raptor migration flyway


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 21, 2013
I live in MN and am on the raptor migration flyway so am starting to see them come through the area. I know there is nothing harmful that i can do to them. But does anyone have any ideas on how to keep my chickens from becoming a regular stop on the route? I got cds hanging from a tree to keep the chickens off a low fence and in the yard, works for that, but last night i had a red tail hawk swoop down and land just past the last one. So that did not work. Any ideas need to be legal and cheap as i am working on a limited funds. Thanks
I understand your situation Sophia, I am North of you in Ontario, and now see hawks regularly in the yard. I have been keeping a close eye on my flock after letting them out each morning. Today a hawk attacked one of my broilers. I was near-by and able to intervene. The whole flock (25) are now traumatized and hiding out under a deck area and too scared to come out - even when I put out treats. The poor victim is pretty shaken, I noticed some blood on her back and neck, will have to check her over when she calms down. I think my birds will be staying close to the coop after this experience.

Raptor migration is a beautiful and amazing thing to behold, but indeed it can be very stressful for us chicken keepers!

Possibly the most foolproof solution would be to keep the birds secure throughout the migration period... safely in a fenced run with a roof/netting on top, if you are able.

If this is out of the question, now is a great time to start tucking away a little money here and there to build a secure run in the future (maybe next year?) for times when your yard is not safe! Trust me, this comes in handy in other situations too.

Until then, you can try a few things. Try free ranging only when you are able to physically be in the yard with them, and easily visible to any hunting raptor. This is still a bit risky as some people have had bold (or desperate) hawks strike chickens even when they are nearby.
Likewise, if you have a dog that is safe around the chickens, and is easily visible to a hawk, this can be a deterrent to a raptor as well. If you are keeping adult large fowl, any raptor other than eagles or great horned owls will need to take their meal on the ground, and experienced raptors will not do this in the presence of a large ground predator (humans/large dogs) because it's too risky. But, sometimes young inexperienced birds will still try their luck (this is one reason why the mortality rate on first year raptors is very high... sometimes more than 60% die in the first year).

If you don't have a trustworthy dog or the ability to be out with the chickens, you can try a scarecrow and move it daily where the chickens frequently go. All the better if the scarecrow can move a little in the breeze. This is hardly foolproof though!! Many hawks are not deterred. This should only be considered if you don't have any alternatives, and you must realize that it might not work.

All of the other cheap suggestions that are commonly thrown out there are generally pretty ineffective. Some people swear by fishing line and CDs, but as you and many others have experienced, it hardly works all of the time. Owl decoys rarely work against hawks and may actually attract them (many raptors like to harass and drive away owls). Spinners, pinwheels, radios playing, noise, etc... are generally not that scary to a migratory hawk, especially if they are an older bird that has seen it all before in dozens and dozens of yards along their migration route...
I am starting my fun for year as well. Migrants that concern me most are also greatest threat to young chickens. Coopers Hawks in particular go after young birds they can pickup from air and fly off with to kill and process somewhere else. Chicks with hens do have protection (not complete) but juveniles that are newly independent of mother are most vulnerable. Coopers males can handle nearly five week old chicks and females can pack off juveniles that are just a little older and half again as large. What really seems to shut these hawks down for me are the fully adult roosters. A hen with chicks will fight a to protect little ones under her skirt but rooster will actually assist and protect larger juveniles that hen no longer protects. These bird eating hawks I think are primary reason some roosters help with their offspring.

The Coopers will at least stoop with humans, even a rooster nearby but are also good at breaking off attack. Over last couple days, even with two good dogs present, Coopers hawks have come in chasing after young chickens but dogs could put them off once dog goes after them. I think the hawks tend to get overly focused on a prey item and do not register threats like us or dogs unless we move into their line of sight. I live in a special location where bird eating hawks are very frequent this time of year and will be watching to see what is really going on. Most of the Coopers hawks actually seem to be looking for songbirds that are like cardinals, mockingbirds, robins and starlings while the smaller Sharp-shinned hawks that are also coming through are going after the little warblers and sparrow like birds. The latter hawk is not a threat but very cool to watch none-the-less.
I will put up a larger section of run with wire top for the hens. My current run is only 8 x 12, it has a metal roof to keep out rain and is attached to the coop, so not really enough space for the whole flock (it is only intended for six birds that I winter over). I have some rough cut 2x4's laying around so will be easy enough to make a covered area (no roof - just mesh), now if the rain would just let up for a few hours...

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