Attack of the Hawk

Having chickens makes me look at wildlife a bit differently.  Two years ago, I would have been thrilled to have a hawk hanging out in my back yard.  It would have been a treat to get to see a bird of prey on a regular basis.  And if I got to watch a hawk pluck his breakfast from yard, it would have caused elation.  What a neat sight! What a powerful creature.

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Here’s the monkey-wrench in my admiration of this powerful bird: we have chickens.  Hawks eat chickens.  This hawk made meals out of our chickens.  This first happened when I was on my way out the door.  I saw the hawk leaving our front yard with a chicken in it’s talons.  I was a little conflicted, it was neat to see the hawk, but I had a bit more negative emotions about the demise of one of our new 16 chicks.  It was one of the Easter Eggers.  One less blue egg laying bird.

Being that this was our first fatality with all of our new batch of 16, I took this loss in stride.  What I did not take in stride is coming out a few mornings later to see this hawk perched on the outside of the coop causing my girls to cackle in fear.  I was able to grab a picture as he flew away.

Hawk Flies from Chicken Coop

 

A few days later, he got another young Easter Egger, and that afternoon he picked off another Easter Egger, right in front of my husband.  Now we’d had it.

Before this point, we had the little girls free ranging and the big girls in the coop and run.  They shared the coop which was separated by a fence.  They were getting used to each other so that when they were fully integrated, the little girls would not be too bullied by the big girls.

We decided to integrate them fully.  This was a little earlier than we had first anticipated, but only by about a week.  So we took down the divider, and everything went fine.  The little girls would have more places to hide and not as much opportunity to be out in the open as they had when they were free ranging.  We thought this would make out hawk problem go away.  It did not.20140902_072244

Within a few days, this same old stupid stinky hawk (see how my view on the creature has changed) came down and killed my one and only Buff Orpington.  I was not happy (I’m still not fully over it).  So we covered the pen with netting.  There are a few spots that are open, but we have not seen the hawk since we made this enclosure.   I’m crossing my fingers that this works.  I’m also looking for a solution, so that we can move the girls into our portable fencing so they can do the fall clean up on my garden!  I will keep you updated.

5 thoughts on “Attack of the Hawk

  1. Mike @ Gentleman Homestead

    Stupid friggin’ hawks.

    This is timely as about a week ago we had our first hawk attack. Our birds have an elevated coop inside an enclosed, secure run they have access to all the time. My routine used to be to let them out into a much bigger paddock of grass in our garden area each morning before leaving for work. They have electric net fencing around that for ground predators like neighborhood dogs, but no protection from above. I always see a million small Cooper’s Hawks, but didn’t know if they were big enough to go after a full-sized chicken. So I rolled the dice for over a year with no problems.

    Last week I was out working on something and heard a God awful ruckus coming from the coop. It sounded like everyone was doing a high-pitched egg song all at once. I ran out and started doing a head count since it looked like they were all inside, and then I saw a large red-tailed hawk fly off and one of our hens go screaming for some brush. There were a lot of feathers on the ground, but after a quick exam, I didn’t see any real damage to her. After a couple days, she started laying again.

    The worst part is I had integrated a rooster just a few days before that. We never kept one before, but I got him from a friend *specifically* to hopefully fight off hawks. Hehe. Stupid rooster. He was inside the coop squawking along with all the other girls.

    Now I only let them out when I’m outside with them.

    My longer term solution is to string up a lot of wire overhead and use it to trellis hardy kiwi. Hopefully that will deter the hawk.

    It’s crazy illegal to try to kill a nuisance hawk here, which is ridiculous because it seems like there’s one perched on every fence post.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Yeah, it’s illegal to the tune of $12,000 here. The netting on top of the coop seems to be working, but I was hoping to use them for cleaning and fertilizing my fall garden. We have a electric poultry fence for that, but I must add some overhead protection for them. Something temporary, though, as they will only be in the garden short term.

      A hardy kiwi, that sounds like a great addition to our property (hawk or not). I’ll have to look into that!

      Reply
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  3. pewwriter

    Sorry about your hens. I like your blog! I’m never interested in seeing anything eat something else that breathes. I know everything has to eat, but I don’t want to see it. I have pigeons in the same coop with my chickens and I let them all out every morning. When the hawks come here, it’s usually the pigeons — or the big flocks of dove that come to my feeders that they go after. I have figured out that the Blue jays here are a neighborhood alarm system. Sometimes it’s a cat. Very often it’s a hawk. They are usually following the hawk, dive bombing him since they are much more agile than the hawk. When the Blue Jays scream relentlessly, all the pigeons fly up to the top of the coop and the chickens head for cover.

    Reply
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