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#71095 - 11/22/07 03:38 PM Hawk Predator
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
I am trying to find an answer to the hawk/predator problem. ONe carried off my rooster last week, then two days later another chicken. Tonight number 3 is gone. I saw "a" hawk flying off this afternoon, when I couldn't find my girls. I don't know if it was "the" hawk. Short of sitting in the yard with a rifle, do you have any suggestions?
Louisa frown

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#71096 - 11/22/07 05:04 PM Re: Hawk Predator
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
What kind of chickens do you have (breed)?

Chris

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#71097 - 11/22/07 05:15 PM Re: Hawk Predator
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
They are assorted, heavy-ish, free-range....
Gulp--I don't even know what they are!!

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#71098 - 11/22/07 05:20 PM Re: Hawk Predator
Wyattdogster Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 493
Loc: Virginia
Weezie....do a search and you can read the many discussions on this topic. If you don't know, the search function is in the right upper corner of this page. Just type in 'hawk' and the threads will come up.

Short of keeping your birds inside or covering their run with protective netting, there is no sure way to protect your flock.

I have this problem as well in the late winter with migrating hawks that hang around for about 6weeks and then move on. I have lost 3-4 to hawks and a couple to a fox over the last 2 years. My bantams are completely protected but my layers free range. I have about 35 and I just cannot keep them in, so I accept this loss. Of course I don't let them out when the hawks are hanging out nearby, but they know where to find them anyway. I actually saw three hawks hit and 'roll' one of my hens and I was able run outside and save her. I had no idea hawks would hunt like that.

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#71099 - 11/22/07 08:57 PM Re: Hawk Predator
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
I am so very sorry for the loss of your chickens.

I agree it is migrating hawks. I've had a female Red-Tailed Hawk hanging around today. Both you and Wyattdogster are right in a migratory corridor. Fortunately, I have not lost any birds to Hawks or Owls.(We have a pair of Great Horned Owls that will be around starting about in January and they are always a threat.)

When I am home and not at work, I listen out for Crows and Bluejays. They will usually tell you where the Hawks & even Owls are situated at any particular time. I also look around at what all the other birds are doing too. The Rock Doves (pigeons) start flying around in a tight, almost diamond formation. The smaller birds cannot be seen. I hang out around the run when I know a Hawk is nearby and use my binoculars to try and locate the Hawk. If you look at the Hawk through your binoculars, I've noticed they can see me looking at them, and they always fly off.

I have had a Cooper's Hawk fly in the run after my Bantam hen. I have seen my large Rooster run at him and he flys away. I have also run out and scared them away.

I asked you what breeds you had because if it is heavy standards you have, then it is a large Hawk (probably a Red Tailed) who is not afraid of large chickens. Bantams are always a target [of even the smaller Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-Shinned]. Sometimes if your hens are large, the Hawk has to be on the ground first for a short time and is vulnerable for a moment.

You could have protective netting as Wyattdogster suggests. It is often cost prohibitive or an inconvenience(as it would be for me because my run is so large).

Remember, a Hawk wants to use as little energy as possible and be successful at catching his dinner. So, you need to make it more difficult and not as successful.

Other than the overhead protective netting, these are things I've seen that have worked for me & other folks (and I am probably just lucky):

(1) a guard dog in the run like a Great Pyrenees; (2) a large, very ferocious Game Rooster (my brother saw a Game Rooster kill a Red-Tailed Hawk though he said the Hawk was a juvenile so probably not an experienced hunter); and my Roosters now are exceptionally large and if I were a Hawk, I'd look for something easier rather than tangle with a large rooster; (3) obtain some breeds of chickens or other poultry that are exceptional at evading Hawks & which can sound an alarm: Fayoumis; Old English Game; Dominiques; Guineas; a Goose; (4) Provide more cover for your birds such as bushes, huts, hiding places (I have seen a Hawk fly up in the tree by my run and my chickens go crazy and run for the cover of bushes, the nest boxes, etc.); (5) Put a very real looking Scare Crow in your chicken run (although I have seen a Red-Tailed Hawk twice eat his meal (a squirrel) on the ground while I watched from a few feet away- I could have touched the Hawk and it had no fear of me). I hope this helps you. CHRIS

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#71100 - 11/23/07 08:08 AM Re: Hawk Predator
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
Thanks so much for your great suggestions.
I don't have a run--the girls free range, and there are a lot of bushes and undergrowth nearby, but I guess this hawk knows where he can find a great dinner!
Our hawks live around here. Or at least some large red-tails do. We have lots of woods, and a relatively mild winter, so I think they just stay the course.
There has been a lot of building in the area near my 55 acres, so a lot of nest have been disturbed as well as other food sources.
I like your idea of a scarecrow. That might work very well.
Also your idea of noisy birds...I have 2 smaller dogs that are outside a good bit, but they are not that intimidating with a persistant hawk.
I am just still flabbergasted about him taking off with my rooster, though! I would have thought it was a coyote or fox, except that a friend about 2 miles down the road actually SAW through her window a hawk swoop down and pick off her rooster!
Well, I may put on a warm coat, get a good book, and sit outside during the better part of the day--at least for a while!
Thanks,
Louisa

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#71101 - 11/23/07 01:22 PM Re: Hawk Predator
Wyattdogster Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 493
Loc: Virginia
Great ideas Chris! When I reread my post I realized I sounded kind of harsh and indifferent. I don't feel that way at all...it is as distressing to me now to lose a bird as it was the first time it happened. frown

The first time we lost a hen it was to a hawk and I was distraught. I cried and carried on like a baby! When my (then 7 year old) daughter came home from school, I told her the bad news with tears in my eyes. She hugged me, patted my back and said, "Mommy, it's the circle of life".

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#71102 - 11/24/07 07:16 AM Re: Hawk Predator
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Wyattdogster, what a wise girl you have!

Weezie,

For me, it would depend on what is more important - the individual chicken or the idea of free-ranging. For us, it's the latter, and if/when we loose a chicken to a hawk, we won't confine all our birds with netting over the top of their run. We like to let them out to range as much as possible, and when we get electric fencing, they will be loose foraging for their own food on pasture, while being protected from all but over-head predators and in the coop at night. For me, the benefits of free-ranging out-weigh the dangers from above.

Not that any breeds are immune to hawks, but maybe in the future you can see if there are any breeds that you are interested in, that are known for being particularly successful free-ranging - quick and alert to predators, not the heavier types. We prefer smaller, quick birds with brown, barring or coloring allowing them to be less of a beacon - no white birds ( we do have ONE pure white leghorn sent as an extra, we would never order an all white bird ). I don't know if we haven't lost a chicken to a hawk because we have a super-alert rooster ( S.S. Hamburgh ) or if it's just dumb luck.

Aside from the shrubbery for protection, I've seen simple, small A-frame type huts used as various hiding spots as well.

But, if these are your individual pets, the individual being more important than the concept of free-ranging, then I would consider a large run with netting. That is the only safe bet. Otherwise, do your best, hope for the best, and be glad that the pressure from the hawks is a seasonal thing!

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#71103 - 11/24/07 07:32 AM Re: Hawk Predator
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Ah, I was just looking through Chris' suggestions again - I forgot - we have one of those plastic-but-real-looking Great Horned Owls that we stuck on one of the posts of the chicken run. Maybe that helps? We also have two geese that sound the alarm if so much as a silver speck of a jet is flying over, so high you can't even hear it.

Also, when I mentioned smaller breeds, I didn't mean bantams, but ones such as the Fayoumi like Chris mentioned, which we have, as well as Hamburgs, brown Leghorns, Redcaps etc... Also, just like Chris said, there is the other side to that coin - a bird so big most hawks wouldn't bother. Our two dark Brahmas are not the best foragers, not the zippiest chicken, but I can't imagine anything short of a Bald Eagle trying to carry one of those hefty girls off.

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#71104 - 11/24/07 07:39 AM Re: Hawk Predator
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
wyattdogster: I didn't think you sounded harsh & indifferent. We've had this Hawk topic come up so many times before, and it usually ends in the argument about whether you can shoot or not (no I'm not bringing it up here-forget I said it, let's not go there).

The protective netting is the only surefire way.

The other things were just a compilation of everything I'd seen or heard to do. One could always get one of those Shamo cocks, bet a Hawk wouldn't dare. CHRIS

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