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When are they too big for a hawk?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Esteri, May 15, 2010.

  1. Esteri

    Esteri In the Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2009
    Sacramento, CA
    So, I was watching a red tail circling my tractor the other day and am wondering... At what age / weight are they too big for a hawk to take? I'd like to put up electric poultry netting (to keep my dogs - who've already snacked on our two turkey chicks [​IMG] out) and let the girls have some additional freedom. Judging by the way they charge the door when we go to care for them - they'd appreciate it too.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Unfortunately, they'll never be too big for a large hawk to kill and eat on the ground. Hawks are the one predator we have trouble with here.
     
  3. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Songster

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Red tails are the one of the biggest hawks in America. A hungry red tail, or one feeding chicks can take down a 5+ pound bird. For a bird that big they wouldn't carry it off, but may drag it under some cover and eat it...or rip it into pieces and take it back to the nest if it's feeding chicks. Don't underestimate them....I have scars to prove it protecting my chicks. There are red tails that won't bother taking chickens for personal preferance. But they are nicknamed "chicken hawk" for a reason. Where I live the residant hawks are red-shouldered hawks. Which are relatively small at 1-2 pounds and already ignore my 12 week old pullets. Though one did go after my chicks when they were 5 weeks old.
     
  4. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

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    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    never... A hawk can take a full frown hen very easily..
     
  5. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Songster

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I'd be more wary of the red-tailed hawk, harris's hawk, and a cooper's hawk taking an adult bird. Other's don't eat many birds, or are too small to easily kill a full grown chicken. I would never say that ANY hawk can take a full grown bird...
     
  6. Esteri

    Esteri In the Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2009
    Sacramento, CA
    Hum... I'm worried that the hawks know where "lunch" is now. On the other hand, the college down the street pastures their birds with multiple small tractors (we're going to steal their design) and no other cover at all. The school down the street has multiple coops each with an open chicken run. Maybe I should ask them about their losses. Or do you just need to give the chickens a place to hide when a hawk comes cruising. Are they smart enough to go for cover?
    .
     
  7. calista

    calista Songster

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    Jan 27, 2010
    The Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned hawks we had in the Eugene, Oregon area where I grew up would lurk in the trees all day, waiting for the opportunity to snag an unwary pullet. Once the hens reached full size, the mental image in the minds of the predators didn't keep up to speed, and we witnessed three episodes where a small hawk landed on the back of a big Buff or Orp, talons firmly fixed in the feathers while the hens squawked.

    The small hawks flapped vigorously, didn't achieve liftoff, stopped to reposition their talons, flapped again, thought about it -- and finally flew away.

    We were lucky they wanted the whole meal TO GO and didn't start ripping off pieces while they were trying to figure it out! By the time we got out to the hens being victimized, they responded to being picked up and cooed to, especially when offered a treat, so no lasting damage occurred (except to their dignity). [​IMG]

    We found that having several "hides" made of plywood in the yard provided an escape route, especially when the roosters sounded their warnings and everybody scattered as the hawks made their dives. Of course, the optimal (but most expensive) answer is to cover the run.
     
  8. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Songster

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Quote:My pullets are very wary about anything in the sky, They'll stare down crows and airplanes to make sure they don't dive down. For red-tails they typically glide from above, usually out in the open. Then once a meal is spotted they'll swoop down from were they were flying. So I'd think a wary chicken would know to run for cover since they have a little more time when a red-tail swoops. Cooper's on the otherhand feed primarily on birds. And typically fly low to the ground in heavy cover or even hunt on the ground. My pullets have plenty of cover, whenever something spooks them they'll hide under a bush or go in their kennel.
     
  9. mrsruzek

    mrsruzek In the Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2015
    Georgia
    We live in GA and see hawks over us all the time. We've had our chickens for 4 months now and the hawks have never tried to get them...yet. Can anyone give me any insight as to why? I see the hawks swoop down to kill other pray around us. I have 3 big buffs, two easter eggers, and 1 cinnamon queen. I thought maybe our hens looked too big for the hawks, which I hope is the case. I'd keep the hens in our covered run to protect them, but they're just not very happy when cooped up in there. They definitely prefer to free range.
     

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