Hawk attack

sullicorbitt(z5 MA)February 14, 2009

I am stunned, we've had chickens for 4 years now, I have one indoor coop that has an enclosed pen, this houses my crested and bantam girls to protect from hawks. My standards free range in a fenced chicken yard and and are locked up tight at night. This morning my 10 year old son was letting the birds out when he found one of our white EE'rs ripped open (just outside the door to the coop). I am sure it was a hawk, we have many of them around and I remember seeing and hearing one just yesterday. When we lock up the girls at night it is dark and we wouldn't have seen her until of this morning of course.

I didn't think a hawk would go for a full size chicken. My birds have lived like this for 4 years and the hawks have never been an issue thus far. I really thought they were too big to be prey. She was pure white, I wonder if she was more of a target? although there is plenty of snow on the ground. She layed the bluest of blue eggs, I will really miss her :(

With all the snow cover my birds can't get any kind of shelter except the coop (which is always open during the day), in the nice weather they have lots of little pines, tree's and brush to hide under. With the snow they can't make it over to them. I am wondering if I need to build another covered pen and ditch my free range idea.

I am so sad.


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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Could it be an Owl or an Eagle? Went I was little a Great Horned Owl killed our RIR hen. You could cut some brush and pile it up for them to cower under and pick at.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 3:46PM
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You can try to build obstacles that will interrupt the hawks flight pattern. Low benches, brush piles, short sections of roofs or anything like that arranged in a pattern around the yard will block hawks as they swoop. It won't be fool proof but it should help.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 6:49PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Thanks for the suggestions, I am going to take the advice and put some brush out in their yard. I think that will help.

Brendan, I am sure it was a hawk. It is a hungry time of year here in New England.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:18AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I'm so sad you lost one of your girls! :( Odd that a hawk wouldn't carry away it's prey, though. Usually they carry it off and defeather it to a certain extent before they eat.

I'm seeing several 'hawk' threads on the front page today...I think keeping them in or adding temporary cover during winter might help if they have trouble making it through the snow to the other shelters. 'Tis the season, I guess. :(

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:17PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Thanks Velvet, yesterday we put up a couple of saw horses with some plywood on top in the chicken yard to give them a little shelter in the yard. I remembered in years past we stored the same saw horses with a big canoe in the same spot and the girls used to take shelter under it etc. I bet that made the difference. It never once dawned on me that by moving it I was taking away hawk protection! anyway I sure do hope this is the fix.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:56AM
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So sorry to hear about your hen. If it makes any difference, you may have saved some of mine from the same fate. I hadn't thought about cover for them, they have a large run with just the coop to run to. There are several trees for shade but I plan to make them some kind of cover now. Last fall I had heard a commotion and when I looked out there two hawks had basically flown into another part of the fence away from the chickens (we have a large fenced area, 7' where the previous owners raised emu). It appeared to me that they were trying to fight or mate and basically fell out of the sky, LOL. They went on their way but it was a little too close for comfort. I've also noted an increase in the predator population, I guess they are getting hungry or gearing up for spring litters or something. Lori

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 1:59AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Well, despite my little shelter, it happened AGAIN! I am so angry, the stinking hawk got one of my original girls, a super fluffy buff orp. we called broody for obvious reasons. This is the last straw, the birds are in lock down until we can build them an enclosure. They have such a nice big yard to roam but this is the end of that. It will be difficult because the ground is completely frozen. We will have to come up with something to tide them over until a more permanent structure can be built.

I have just put in a new order for chicks this spring :( it's a bitter sweet thing if you know what I mean.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 7:25PM
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We watch the newpapers all the time for animal enclosures and have been lucky enough to have been able to purchase 3 dog kennels. They are each 10x10 panels, 6ft high, with one panel having a door, I think I've paid about $200 for at total of 30x30 kennel with 3 doors and you can't beat chainlink. You can cover the top with anything you want, from plywood, chicken wire to wire fencing. Protects them from anything from hawks to foxes. You can make the "yard" as big or small as you like by adding or substracting kennel panels.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:55PM
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Awww Sheila,
I know you must be heartbroken. Such a shame!!

I would have to kill the hawk!! Have you thought about a depredation permit to get rid of the hawks? Not sure if this covers your case, I did not read all the info BUT it might be worth looking into.

Here is a link that might be useful: info on the permit.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 1:25PM
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