Red tail hawk got my baby


Mar 18, 2018
I have been a big fan of this website and finally registered for the forum. I know this community is the ONLY one that will understand how painful it is to lose a feathered friend. This is hard for me to write, and I am in tears again. Me and my husband have a small group of wonderful hens. I have had chickens on and off all my life.
We have always allowed our girls to free range in our large fenced backyard during the day. They return to the coop every night and we lock them in. Our back fence is against the woods and the only “threats” that have ever gotten into the yard are squirrels and tiny bunny rabbits. We have aerial predators, specifically red tail hawks. Four years ago my next door neighbors who have four hens said they lost one to a hawk attack. Me and my husband are both retired so we are home a lot and I always keep an eye/ear out for the girls.
Our current flock we got as pullets last February. All of them have been healthy and safe. Last August I heard our head bird SCREAMING and we happen to be outside gardening in the front yard. We ran to the back just in time to see a red tail hawk on the ground, and then take off when we showed up. Our birds had all run to hide behind a large plastic outdoor storage container and they were traumatized. We put them in the coop for the day and for the next few months they were all on high alert.
Last month we added three new birds to our flock. All of them had just turned one. They integrated with our older girls perfectly. One of them was a hand raised, totally tame, gentle and shy Jersey Giant. Everyday she would walk right up to me wanting to be petted/held. She became my favorite bird.:love Last Sunday was her 30th day with us. We were inside our house watching a movie. It was early afternoon. I heard our head bird screaming like she did last time and we ran outside. All of them were hiding and came out traumatized again. I started counting and everyone was there except my sweet Jersey Giant. I was praying she was hiding under our Toy Hauler as that is a favorite bird bath time spot and hiding place. I ran over and saw black feathers all over the ground but no bird. Their was blood on the ground and my husband looked under the toy hauler and my Jersey Giant lay lifeless with a severed neck. It had JUST happened as her body was still warm. I flipped out and was in tears. She was a slow moving bird who probably never saw the murderer coming. I’ve always known letting them free range the backyard was taking a chance. They LOVE free ranging and have tons of grass, bugs, worms to keep them busy all day. Now I won’t let them out and my husband says we will build a large permanent structure. Right now they have a large portable hen house and my husband made them a portable attached run. This has worked great with free ranging everyday, but we like them to have more room. I can tell they are antsy and everyday soon as they see one of us they start pacing the fence and protesting loudly. I wish we could put a huge net over the entire backyard but it’s almost a full acre. My heart hurts everyday since this happened. I miss my sweet, shy bird. I know many of you have had things like this happen. Even though it’s a federally protected bird, I want to take aim and blow the hawk away as it sits on my neighbors fence. My husband is also really mad this happened. I want to thank everybody that took some time to read this post. Like I said before I know this group loves their feathered friends and understands the pain and anger I am going through right now. Hope all your birds have a safe day! Thanks for listening.
Sorry for your loss, it will get better, since you did mention your like your birds to have access to the entire yard maybe you could set an hr or so of your time every couple of days and sit out there with them so they can enjoy the entire acre fully supervised

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