Soon Migrant Coopers Hawks will be visiting for chicken chicks


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
Night hawks are flying over to south in loose flocks and starlings have stopped breeding and flocked up, as have the robins and black birds. Coopers hawks can no longer find song bird eats virtually everywhere they look and they can not keep pace with the migrating songbird flocks. They are going to take more risks going after bigger stuff and juvenile chickens not under watchfull eye of parents are going to be more appealling than before. I am locking up my brooder reared juveniles that would normally be free ranged starting at 4 weeks. Now that will be delayed until 8 weeks to limit window they are vulnerable to pesky Coopers hawks.
I have 3 and 4 week old baby chicks that get out in the backyard for a couple of hours each day on supervised release from the cardboard prison (their brooder box in the kitchen). I have a little pen with screens on the top and I sit right by it and watch them. The other day a juvenile Cooper's Hawk flew down and watched us for about five minutes from different vantage points. There's a huge madrona tree in our neighbor's yard and I know they roost there and occasionally do fly-bys of our bird feeder, but I was not expecting one to come so close when I was outside. If I had not been there, or if the pen hadn't been covered, I'd definitely have lost a chick or two.

I like your signature. I took a "City Chickens 101" class and the instructor gave us a lot of background on the evolutionary origins of chicken behavior. It all makes so much sense when you know where they're coming from.
Yes, even in city. With small chicks, < 1 pound and free-ranged under supervision for short periods of time, I would be out with them actively scanning area for hawks. Do not just sit on butt looking at chicks, be proactive. Coopers will just about go between your legs to catch some of them, especially if they are around humans a lot. The college campus I went to had a Coopers hawk that would use walking students as cover when going after starlings and robins. Same bird would walk around on ground while people were walking less than 10 away. The really interesting part of that is people did not notice the hawk!

For me, I have a 4 week window when migrant Coopers are abundant enough to warrant watching for them. Last year my free ranging front porch flock stayed in heavy cover all day so I put feed in there to enable staying out of hawks reach. Twice last year I had an incoming hawk making stoop for the more stupid flock of dominique chicks. My response was to get between hawk and chicks, look directly at it and wave arms while crouching and moving about. It is very simlar to what my game hens and roosters do.
I like dominiques, that is why I invest so much in them. It also makes possible for comparison with more free range selected breeds. Doms are not the dumbest breed but they are a far cry from some American games and red jungle fowl.
Yup that time of year for raptor fly-by's. Keep an eye out for all kinds of birds of prey. They will stop off for a meal or two then go south. What is interesting is to keep track of the kinds of predators that people are having problems with at various times of the year by the kinds of posts that appear in this section. Spring and summer it is foxes and coyotes that are feeding young and teaching their offspring to hunt. In the fall and spring it is raptors. Winter it is lone predators--weasels, mink. Someone should do a survey.
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