The Chicken Civil Defense System: I just saw it in action

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SewingDiva, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. We live not too far from Blue Hills Reservation and we see a lot of red tailed hawks in the thermals over our yard. Our coop and run is solid and predator proof.

    So this past weekend our local red tailed hawk was hanging out in the pine trees near the coop and checking them out as potential tasty morsels. Our pullets know this too, and when a hawk gets a leedle too close one of them will send up the alarm by making this strange "clicking" sound in the back of her throat. Her head is held straight up, and her tail is up too.

    Her sisters respond in kind, and they all stand stock still until the danger passes (e.g. the hawk flies away looking for easier pickings.) And of course they are always in their their Fort-Knox-of-a-run when this happens, so this is pretty funny to watch.

    Have you ever seen your chickens do this?

    One thing I really love to watch is their social behavior with each other - an endless source of fascination...


  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I had a similar experience with my chickens today. They free-range in our yard which is filled with lots of enormous trees and very little open spaces. Today they wandered just a bit outside the yard fence to take a collective dust bath. Suddenly a mob (I believe that's the right term) of crows flew over, making a big racket while they chased another bird. The chicks were instantly back in the yard and under their "safety zone", a 12 ft. high hibiscus bush. They sat quietly under the bush for a good 20 minutes. After they came out from under the bush, I made "cawing" noises like a crow just to see what the chicks would do. The chicks were back under their bush in a heartbeat. Now I know how to get them all in one place if and when it's necessary. [​IMG]
    P.S. Lucky for me I don't have neighbors to witness the crazy woman imitating crows to scare her chickens. [​IMG]
    ETA: My OC mind forced me to go and check @ A flock of crows is called a murder, not a mob. Makes sense. A bunch of crows kinda sounds like someone's being murdered.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  3. stacym

    stacym Songster

    Jul 21, 2008
    Kennard, Nebraska
    Mine do the same thing. The dominant hen will give the alarm and stand on the outside roost until all the girls are in the coop then she goes in. They also have a warning growl they give when my cat comes around. It's too funny my cat is absolutely terrified of the chickens! She won't even come around me when I'm at the pen.
    When I lived on the farm I actually saw a Bantam hen peck a cat on the head when it wanted to eat her babies. She made a noise,tucked everyone under her wing and then pecked the cat. You could actually hear it, she did it so hard. The cat went away shaking his head!!
    Absolutely, love the social order with chickens. Each one has a different "personality" too.
  4. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Songster

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    Just the other day i was out with the baby chicks and heard a strange squeal coming from one of my hens who by the way are free ranged during the day and locked up in a predator safe coop and run during the night. I was running back there to see what the problem was when a red tailed hawk flew within an inch of my head. I got to the back yard and my hen was in a dust bath hole she had dug up against the pine tree trunk and immediately thought she was injured. I believe she hunkered down in that hole knowing that if she dipped down low enough the hawk wouldn't fly into the tree trying to snatch her up. She just sat there and starred at me not moving an inch. I picked her up and checked her out making sure she wasn't injured and she wasn't but the whole flock took about 45 minutes to settle down. After the initial shock wore off my rooster ran to the other side of the house where the babies were and did a head count then ended up spending the rest of the day hiding with the babies under a cedar tree. Poor lil feller is usually the mighty protector but i think that was a tad bit scary for him. I knew going into the whole free range thing that there was a chance of nature taking its course at some point but when im home and able to intervein i will most certainly do so.


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