Raptor migration season - watch out!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by AlbionWood, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. AlbionWood

    AlbionWood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2010
    Albion, California
    All over the country, raptors (hawks & owls) are migrating from their summer breeding grounds toward their winter territories. In some cases this is only a short distance, just trading one type of habitat for another, but a lot of raptors migrate long distances at this time of year. Most of these are immature birds, this year's hatch. (A lot of them won't make it through migration and winter, but right now they outnumber their parents.) They need to eat a lot to sustain the energy necessary for these long journeys. And the immature birds are still learning their trade.

    What all this means is, lots of DFA (Death From Above) for our chickens! You may not have had any hawks around all summer, but they will suddenly appear and start attacking your chickens. Just yesterday a migrating immature Cooper's Hawk took a nice NH hen, ate part of it, then came back later to try for another... right in the fenced yard next to the house. We ran it off, and so far it hasn't returned - hopefully continued moving south - but there will probably be another along shortly... we're on the West Coast migration route.

    This also means it won't really help to shoot a bird that attacks your flock. Not only is this illegal, it's ineffective as well, because that bird will likely be replaced by another. Eventually of course if we all did this we'd get back to the way things were 50 years ago, when Cooper's Hawks were rare birds - because farmers had shot so many of them. Even Red-Tailed Hawks, today among the commonest birds in the sky, were decimated in the first half of the 20th century. We don't really want to go there again, and fortunately I don't think we need to. Nowadays we have cheap plastic netting, monofilament line, CDs and other bird-confusers, a whole line of deterrents that weren't available to farmers of yore.

    So I'm off to string some fishing line and CDs over the chicken yard. Just wanted to give a (somewhat belated) heads-up and maybe help explain why people are suddenly seeing raptors around their chicken yards. Watch out, and good luck!
     
  2. CoffeeCow

    CoffeeCow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2010
    Washington, NC
    Yesterday I went outside just in time to watch a hawk swoop down and attack my chickens in their run. We had 1 minor injury (she will be fine, just broke a blood feather). so I hastily put up some netting on the exposed part of the run. Now the hawk is hanging around screeching and scaring the chickens... they won't even leave the coop. Poor chickens [​IMG]

    its now after noon, and the girls still have not left the coop.
     
  3. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I'm in Florida though, does this mean I'll get a new group of hawks staying for winter? Normally I have the red-shouldered hawks around which ignore my girls completely due to their smallish size, there's 2-3 pairs of them. Hopefully these would protect their terriotory, but If a red-tailed hawk pops up, my girls would be gonners. Time to put out some peanuts for the blue-jays.
     
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Thanks for the warning![​IMG]
     
  5. AlbionWood

    AlbionWood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2010
    Albion, California
    Quote:Very likely, yes. The Red-Shouldered Hawks are mostly resident and as you note, they don't usually attack adult chickens (they are generalist-feeders but mostly go for smaller prey). But you might get some of the bigger Buteos like Red-Tailed, Swainson's, etc. Cooper's are probably the worst, they are the archetypal "Chicken Hawk" (they eat nothing but birds, and will take birds much larger than themselves). Whether you get them or not depends a lot on habitat - they are not birds of open country, but will follow brushy or wooded riparian corridors. Great Horned Owls also move around some this time of year and are fearsome predators.
     
  6. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Quote:Very likely, yes. The Red-Shouldered Hawks are mostly resident and as you note, they don't usually attack adult chickens (they are generalist-feeders but mostly go for smaller prey). But you might get some of the bigger Buteos like Red-Tailed, Swainson's, etc. Cooper's are probably the worst, they are the archetypal "Chicken Hawk" (they eat nothing but birds, and will take birds much larger than themselves). Whether you get them or not depends a lot on habitat - they are not birds of open country, but will follow brushy or wooded riparian corridors. Great Horned Owls also move around some this time of year and are fearsome predators.

    I was afraid of that. I'm also living in the typical neighborhood, a few trees, lots of houses, a golf course nearby, and somewhat busy road. But there's also what I would call "the woods" 1/4 of a mile from my house, it's pretty bushy and filled with pine trees. I've seen red-tails before, but usually riding the updrafts on busy highways in the more open areas witha nice grassy field below. I've never soon a Cooper's before, that doesn't mean I won't get them.

    ETA: I always make sure to put my animals up a few hours before dark, I've heard great-horned owls here numerous times around fall.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  7. operator16

    operator16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2010
    Colorado
    We're SE of Denver and just this morning my boys and I saw a red tailed hawk do the lowest flyby we've seen so far. I just wrote it off until I read this. All the girls are in the run for now. Thanks for the heads up!!

    Any ideas how long this lasts?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  8. BekahBear

    BekahBear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 3, 2010
    Arizona
    I don't know about everywhere else..but there has definitely been an increase of raptors around my area. A friend of mine had her kitten taken off her back porch last week while she was sitting 10 feet away. So yea..be careful with your chickens and other small animals
     
  9. jeremy

    jeremy CA Royal Blues

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    Mar 23, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Now I have to go find the migratory routes for raptors in Northern, CA... [​IMG]
     
  10. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    I had the scary pleasure of having the broad shouldered hawks migrate over my place last year by the thousands, they were 125 miles off course according to the bird watchers.

    We have red tails all year round here so i was glade to see the migrating hawks keep on going.

    [​IMG]
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