Really shaken by my first hawk encounter


Enthusiasm Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2020
The South
Hey y'all,

I heard my hens sound off the alarm call just now while they were free ranging, and when I went out there were two hawks trying to get at my two 13 week d'Uccle chicks through their HC covered run. I said an unsavory word and ran over, and the hawks spooked and flew away screeching. The chicks were cowering in a corner of their coop. I feel absolutely sick. Is there any way hawks can rip through hardware cloth? I'm not home from 8-4 this week, so I can't monitor the chickens as closely as I'd like to after this. I'm going to put up a fake owl and hang old cds/dvds or silver duct tape around the area.

My 3 hens were free ranging at the time, 2 RSLs and a RIR, probably about 20 feet away from the run. They were flattening themselves into a corner of the house and fence and sounding the alarm call. After the hawks left, I checked the hens over for any injuries and found none. I'm really lucky. They usually free range unsupervised in my large backyard all day. I've got a dog and lots of trees/bushes/places to hide around my property. They'll be staying in the run for a while.

Surprisingly, I've never had a hawk bother my chickens before, not even when we lived in the country. I'm really shaken up by this, and I want to make sure I can do everything in my power to protect my birds.


Free Ranging
Aug 27, 2020
Bergen County, NJ
I was also terrified when one of my pullets got attacked. I came home from work to a pile of feathers in the yard, but thankfully that's all the hawk got.

I have the advantage of having fed wild birds for years before getting chickens, so I know the places they usually attack in. I put up barriers to their line of sight there, and added new shrubs and a tree to permanently foil an attack.

The girls are now more alert after that scare, and as long as the hawk can't dive straight in, I think they will be OK. I have numerous shrubs and vines for shelter, at the expense of grass. My yard where they roam is nearly all garden-type landscape.

L7 Farm

Nov 23, 2020
Upstate New York
I know that sick feeling. I went by the coop one day and saw a juvenile hawk sitting ominously on a lower dead branch of a tree adjacent to the coop, 20 feet away It was like looking up and seeing the grim reaper just hanging out, doing nothing in particular other than waiting.

FWIW, we put up pinwheels with "hologram" style silver reflective spinners at the top of our run on the "airside" (there's tree cover on the "treeside" as we call it). We only have poultry netting for a cover so while it's possible a hawk could get through it, it would mostly be the hawk's undoing getting tangled up, so the pinwheels are mostly for the hawks' benefit. Even when there's no wind or it's cloudy, they sparkle and seem to act as a deterrent. Not fool proof obviously but at like $8 for a dozen plus the costs of duct taping them to various fence posts and the top of the coop, it is a pretty cheap anti-predator deterrent (and they look jaunty). (We've used these successfully for spooking less threatening bird away from our garden.)

Obviously how well this would work for free-ranging chickens would depend on whether you've got strategic spots to mount them.

With hardware cloth enclosures, though, I would think a hungry hawk might try once and then move on. I realize this was upsetting but you should also consider yourself a successful defender of your flock! It worked as intended!

L7 Farm

Nov 23, 2020
Upstate New York
PS: we get hawks all the time (and the occasional eagle!), and at least at this time of year, they've got plenty of easier-to-get-at prey around.

I contrast this to my in-laws anti-predator procedures (they lived on a real farm): they just got dozens of new chicks every spring, and accepted losses throughout the summer among their free rangers, allowing natural selection to sort out which ones were clever enough to escape or hide, or the roosters to fight them off (which was successful much of the time). When I first found out about this thirty-plus years ago, city boy that I was, I was gob-smacked; but nature is cruel, and farming is a life of hard calculation, and my in-laws had made the calculation that a certain loss percentage to hawks and foxes was acceptable. They got their fryers and eggs in proportion to the time and money they invested.

The predator losses oddly seemed to go down in the winter, which is counter-intuitive to me since food is scarcer for predators, presumably, and you'd think they'd be more attracted to chicken flocks; but the chickens didn't free range away from the safety of the coop and immediate environs that much during the snowy months, and with less cover in general, ground predators seemed more shy. (My father in law could also track any successful predators in the snow via footprints pretty easily.) Obviously this would vary by type of area you're in.


Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Nov 18, 2007
My Coop
My Coop
While you are away I wouldn't let them out to free range. The hawk knows they are there and will probably be back. I had a hawk kill a bird not 10 feet away from me. It happened so fast I didn't have time to react. It didn't take her but did kill her. Another time I had some chicks in an uncovered small temporary pen which I was standing right next to and a hawk swooped in and grabbed one of the chicks and all I could do was watch it fly off with my chick. Again it happened so fast I didn't have time to react. All I could do was curse. Good luck...


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5 Years
Jul 18, 2017
East Coast of Australia
Hawks love to eat D'uccles - full grown or chicks. The other hens you're free ranging might be a bit big for the hawk, but when your D'uccles are grown, they won't be.

If you don't want to give hawks a free meal, I'd highly recommend not free ranging D'uccles (or any bantam for that matter). I've seen it happen to my D'uccles and D'anvers when freeranging while I was in the yard with them.

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