what am I missing about hawks?

Rehoboth

In the Brooder
Oct 6, 2021
15
41
36
We have 5 week old chicks which we have been letting out during the day from the coop where they live into a run located between our house and our garage, with a large overhanging maple tree, and several other large trees nearby. At first I thought the closeness to the house and the trees (ie no free diving area) would be enough protection. Then my son saw a hawk (I think Cooper's hawk?) fly off with a 4 week old chick. So we strung bird netting, which we had used to protect berry patches earlier in the summer, over the run. It wasn't very securely fastened, because I thought the hawk wouldn't want to risk getting tangled up in it. But a few days ago I looked out the window and saw him struggling to fly away after getting his claws in the netting. The chicks had run into the coop or under a metal tub we propped up as additional hiding space for them. I reset the netting and thought he might have learned his lesson. But today I found the tub knocked over, the netting and plastic fence disarranged, two chicks outside under the coop, and another chick completely gone (no feathers left anywhere after either of these attacks). So is fruit-protection level bird netting not strong enough? It needs to be more than a foot or two higher than the chicks? The hawk is never going to leave now that he's eaten two chicks? Will this get better when the birds are bigger, or if one turns out to be a rooster? (Although we could only keep a rooster if we get a no-crow collar to work.) Would an open area without trees nearby be safer somehow? I thought the branches would prevent a clear flight path and discourage hawks. The only "open" areas we have would still be ringed by tall trees where we have seen hawks and owls perching in the past.

eta: we have friends who live a few miles away and have kept chickens for years in a run with no cover at all, and no hawk problem. But I think they don't put theirs outside till they're much older. I wanted these chicks to learn to forage, which is why we started giving them lots of outdoor time early.
 
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LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,269
26,644
932
Germany
Hi,
I am sorry you are having hawk trouble.

So is fruit-protection level bird netting not strong enough?
No, it does not work. I have strong fishing netting that will not get destroyed by the sharp claws of areal predators.
It needs to be more than a foot or two higher than the chicks?
The higher, the better. We have ours at approx. 2,50-3 meters.
The hawk is never going to leave now that he's eaten two chicks?
He will always try again.
Will this get better when the birds are bigger, or if one turns out to be a rooster?
No. The rooster will sound the alarm but cannot prevent attacks.
Would an open area without trees nearby be safer somehow? I thought the branches would prevent a clear flight path and discourage hawks.
No. All hawks possess acrobatic skills where flying is concerned, so it does not matter whether there are trees or not. And they are very intelligent and observant, here they even climb the fences like a parrot to get to the upper meshes where they know they will be able to slip through.


IMG-20210725-WA0006.jpeg
 
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STACEYH

Crowing
Jul 14, 2021
1,094
3,903
351
Illinois
I use fruit tree netting but on 6 foot railings. I do have an occasional hawk stop on my coop roof. My ladies run under my metal roofing and inside coop. I have never had a hawk go through the net. My run is away from trees. The hawks have nowhere to hide and my ladies sound off and hide fast.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,112
41,652
1,156
southern Michigan
Your survivors need to be in a very safe place for ten to twenty days, until thes hawk gives up and leaves.
Some of us have had success doing this, and others have so many raptors present that free ranging isn't possible at all.
Most of our losses have been immature birds and bantams, but many people have lost adult standard sized chickens. And many of our hawk problems have been Cooper's hawks.
mary
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,269
26,644
932
Germany
@LaFleche Can you post a link to what type of netting you’re using? What did you use to build the poles?
This is what we have installed:
https://engelnetze.com/vogelschutz-und-abdecknetze?attr7=opt39

And this for ropes: https://engelnetze.com/polypropylen...-16-fach-geflochten-farbe-gruen-100-m-rolle-2

We use iron rods with welded on rings on top for the ropes. In my picture you can see some temporary stakes made from hazel we put up until the ordered additional iron rods will be delivered.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,296
29,305
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
A couple of times I have had a hawk kill birds. Once I was standing next to a hen and out of nowhere a hawk killed her. It didn't take her but did kill her. Another time I had some chicks in a small temporary pen next to where I was working and a hawk swooped in and grabbed a chick and all I could do was watch it fly off with my chick. Both times it happened so fast I didn't have time to react.
 

mzchippy

In the Brooder
Jun 7, 2020
3
11
24
Just lost a Polish Crested to a kestrel. Last month an Americauna to a fox. In the spring I get new chicks to add to my winter survivors.
 

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