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Why do Hawks not bother my flock?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by LaylaFlora, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. LaylaFlora

    LaylaFlora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is there anyone else out there that has hawks but not a hawk problem? We have several nests in our neighborhood and see and hear new fledgings every spring but I've never lost a chicken to a hawk.

    Coyote? Yes. Raccoon? Definitely. Fox? Once.

    I never even knew Red Tailed Hawks ate chickens until I read the threads in this forum and have kept chickens for over 10 years.

    I am in California. Can anybody else relate or explain why?
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I can relate. We used to keep numerous "barnyard" flocks that usually had other livestock and dogs about. Such locations also had cover birds could retreat to and a very, very capable rooster. Loss to Red-tailed Hawks was very low as was losses to predators in general.

    In current location I had to reboot operation which is when I had to experience the joy hawks and others stealing birds. Free-range chicks where taken out by Coopers Hawks until a rooster was put out with them which shut that hawk species down. Broody hens also help with really small chicks but once weaned the young birds need to be a month or more older before they are too large for Coopers to take. During that interval rooster provides protection. Red-tails usually do not hunt my ground during warmer parts of year because Red-shouldered Hawks work area at that time and they do not pose a threat to chickens. During the winter with lots of snow is when Red-tailed and even Ferruginous hawks briefly posed a problem. That was compensated for in part by moving feeding stations to areas with more cover and penning more vulnerable birds (American Dominiques). First dog came into picture about that time which really put a nix on such hawk activities as he would run to chickens making alarm calls and go after hawk. I encouraged that. Over last three years I have had more small juvenile chickens out than I can protect with roosters (best anti-hawk roosters fight too much with each other) so second dog was brought into picture and pens were dispersed so hawks would see larger chickens where ever they saw vulnerable young birds.

    Also hawk abundance varies from year to year. Some years I can see a hawk working ground multiple times a day, other times maybe once a week. Hard winters usually mean fewer hawks following production season. For me, hawks are not looking first for chickens, rather they are usually after smaller game and chickens prove to be targets of opportunity. Exception to that involves Coopers Hawks going after chicks.

    If you do not have protection, then at some point a hawk will find you and hunt your birds for a while before moving on. Ten years is not that long of an interval.
     
  3. ImNotYogi

    ImNotYogi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A former co-worker of mine has about 25 hens and 2 roosters (a barred rock and I think a leghorn). He said he never lost one to a hawk. But he sees them perched in the trees staring. The hawks here aren't big enough to carry one off. I don't know how much cover they have on his land though I would assume he provides some. I'm guessing cover, bird size, and roosters have deterred some hawks.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    If neighbor were to sit and watch, then odds hawk will be seen to fly down into pasture but be taking something like a mouse or vole. They seldom just perch somewhere unless crop already full.
     
  5. LaylaFlora

    LaylaFlora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Perhaps my Redtails are too small. They are the same size as my Coopers---which are gorgeous and I love. Perhaps there is a lot of natural food sources and they dont need to prey upon my chickens. I see a jackrabbit on my road almost every night and my cats bring in voles all the time...

    I disagree that 10 years is not a long stretch. I'd say I've got a good amount of experience ;)
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    If hawk is small, then maybe not Red-tails. You have a couple other smaller Buteos down your way. Alternative prey could be part of equation.

    When I indicate experience, my statistics are based on many flocks operating at same time over many years. Each is at a different location / farm. Not just one backyard or even barnyard.
     
  7. bantamphienix

    bantamphienix Out Of The Brooder

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    when a hawk flies over our chickens run for cover. I am thankful that we haven't lost any to hawks.
     
  8. happyappy

    happyappy Out Of The Brooder

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    Do you have roosters or dogs? We lost almost 30 birds to hawks, foxes, and coon. I added 2 roosters (an Americana/silkie mix and a silver spangled hamberg), and started letting our rottie out whenever we are outside. We also had to trap 2 of the coon that were ripping the welded wire off the bottom of the coop. The loses stopped immediately.

    As soon as those roosters see a hawk overhead they hustle the girls to cover.
     
  9. bantamphienix

    bantamphienix Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes we have both dogs and roosters. Any animal that is not ours gets chased off pretty quickly. Sorry you have lost so many.
     
  10. Skye727

    Skye727 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have never seen a hawk where we live in Sandy, Oregon. My neighbor said they aren't around. Weird! I have seen racoon poop and my son saw a baby mountain lion once but that's it. Now we have a rat. There is a large neighborhood cat but I think he's afraid of my tough girls. LOL I have a Rhode island red that is very large and in charge.
     

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