My hawk experience

gardengalrn(5KS)December 2, 2009

I have been having a fit with possums living under the coop, a visiting skunk, and coyotes howling in the night. I've been missing chickens and finding carcasses here and there. I would say I lost two for every one carcass I found. Usually a pile of feathers and the chicken with its head ripped off and the breast/gullet eaten out. I knew it wasn't the possums who where doing this but I could never figure out WHAT with the abundance of critters around here. Last week a chicken got killed in broad daylight, in the pen. Hmmm. So two days ago I just happened to look out there and low and behold, a huge hawk was sitting on a dead chicken, eating it. Very clever, it flew off the second I saw it. So I went out and made a hodgepodge of obstacles and draped wire fencing over the open spots. It looks terrible but so far no other chickens got snatched. It won't keep a determined predator out but I read here that it may keep the hawk from swooping down so easily. Hopefully by spring I can do something more secure. I just never thought that a hawk would cause so much damage; he's really been pretty hungry I guess. Lori

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If you have a hawk causing that much carnage, contact your local conservation officer. He may give you a tag to have that hawk destroyed. If you are not able he may know someone who would be willing, or there may be a predator controller in your area. Generaly once a hawk taste the ease of a fast food chicken dinner they wont quit. Also ask the CO about fur trappers , if you alow them to trap your property they will probably do it for free. Then they will thin out your predators. You dont have to accept having to lock your chickens in fort knox, seasonal trapping and cleaning back brush and weeds, and providing low roofs for the chickens to hide under will allow your chickens to enjoy free range life.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 7:41AM
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Sorry for your losses. We, too, have the predators you mentioned, including hawks. We haven't lost a hen to any of them. Our outside coop has a double chicken wire covering, with shade cloth over one-half of it (in Texas shade cloth is a blessing!) which is a visual barrier for hawks.
We had skunks under the workshop, much like your 'possums under the coop. We got some Ropel from Wal-Mart and sprinkled it generously around the shop, which deterred the skunks. We were just sure to do it when the skunks weren't home. It would work with your 'possums, too.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 7:42AM
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Lori, sorry to hear about your losses. I had a hawk problem too once and I lost my favorite hen Paprika to one. All that was left was a pile of feathers. I figured it out one day when I was standing with my chickens in the pen and a hawk swooped down on all of us, I couldnt believe it. The thing swooped down about ten feet from me and hit the new roof I put over my pen and bumped off and landed in the pine tree next to me. They really will stop at nothing when they get a taste of chicken. I had to put chicken wire, two layers, over the top of their run and put some corrugated tin over one spot for shade. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 9:58PM
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Hawks will not swoop into a place they can't take off from, and they know how big their wings are. All it takes to keep them out of a chicken run is a trellis criss-cross of 1x2s or 2x4s with no more than 2 feet openings.

They don't see chicken wire and netting very well, so if you have netting over the run, add 3 or 4-inch strips of something that will look like a barrier.

Killing the hawk will not solve the problem. If you don't get the chickens under cover, other hawks will come. It's not the "taste" of the chickens, it's the ease of catching them.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 12:19PM
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Recently while upstairs early in the morning getting dressed I heard a hen clucking and thought to myself, "someone laid an egg", then another and another - quickly all the hens were squawking so I dashed to the window and saw them all running through the thick underbrush hedgerow between our yard and the neighboring property. I thought a dog was chasing them but then saw the big hawk flying low to the ground just on the tail of the last hen running for her life.

I swung the sash open to holler while my husband ran down stairs and out the door. All the chickens made it under the cover of a tree limb that broke last winter and grew over with vines all this summer. The hawk landed right on top of them on the limb. As hubby got out there, the hawk made one last attempt to jump on a chicken but he missed. He flew away then.

My heart was really beating that morning watching my birds run for their lives and myself helpless from so far away. I commended them for being so smart to head for the thick underbrush and called them all in to the pen for the remainder of the day lest the hawk still be lurking for an easy meal.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 10:00PM
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I'm sorry that you might also have a hawk problem, one has really wreaked havoc here. Like I said, I really was looking for a 4 legged critter. It is a bad time of year too, with the predators being hungry and the weather bad in lots of places. My chickens have been in the coop for almost 2 weeks because of a major snow storm and cold weather. They are scared to walk in the snow so I couldn't see opening the coop door to let in the cold when they weren't going to set foot out anyway, LOL. Hopefully you won't lose any of your girls before the hawk gives up and looks elsewhere for dinner. Lori

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 12:07AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I am so sorry you lost some of your girls! We lost one to a hawk last spring. It is so sad! Our run is now covered with orange snow fencing.

Its VERY visible!

I do still let them free range when I am outside, which is nearly all day every day in good weather (not now in wintertime, unfortunately).

Here is a link that might be useful: My Country DIY Blog

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Well, I can't believe this but that darn hawk or one like it tried to swoop today with me right in the pen!!! I had taken my puppies out and decided to let the chickens out for the second day in weeks. My coop is situated rather impractically as we made due with what we had at the time so I had to open their door, then walk all the way around the building to go in to feed them. I was still in the pen when the hawk swooped close to see what he/she could find. GRRRR!! I got all the girls back in the coop and shut them in again. Then I got to worrying that it would try for my cats or puppies. The puppies are only 9 wks but fairly sturdy/large and fuzzy but I would hate for a hawk to injure them if nothing else. That darn bird, I wish it would leave us alone!! When DH gets home, I hope he can get it with the shotgun, laws or no. Lori

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 2:13AM
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Like I said, animals are individuals, and when one learns to associate poultry with prey the only sure way to stop that individual is to destroy it, Im sorry if the fact hurts some peoples principals, its a sad fact of farm life. In the good book it talks of having to kill predators in order to protect ones livestock, luckily we dont have to use slinshots or sticks, LOL.
Kill the hawk, do contact your conservation officer, and when the birds dead hang him on a fence, a dead hawk scares other hawks.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 12:42PM
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Chicken wire is good for covering runs but that orange plastic fencing is better. The predators can see it and the (well we have pheasants in runs)but it will work for chickens too. But for some reason for the past few years our chickens have had no problems. We have plenty of places for them to hide.
One year we did have a problem. We had a very intelligent hawk. The chickens had plenty of places to hide so swooping in left the hawk with nothing to catch. So it decided to casually and slowly fly into the chicken yard and perch on a fallen limb just a few inches off the ground and wait.
I didn't know about this trick. I just knew that chickens started to be missing. Then one day I looked out the window and saw him just sitting there as the chickens milled around.
One shot from my BB gun and he just fell over.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 3:58AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

A willingness to kill raptors with out the proper forethought is a scary thing. Like the pidgeoners that were caught a few years ago with all of those dead raptors (many of them endangered) we have laws regarding wild animals in this country for a reason . You are often playing from a positon of ignorance when it comes to raptors but the conservation officer will not.

What attracts one hawk is likely to attract another, and you are likely to have to keep on killing hawks, that is how species go extinct, and hawks are important predators of the small mammals that climb into coops and eat birds, you can protect your flock but we cannot protect the wild bird nests, and with out the wild birds we will loose the wild forests, and if we loose the wild forests we will have lots of problems. The ecosystem is just that, a system, and making changes from a position of ignorance is seldom a good idea. A Conservation Officer will be able to tell you what you can do. You may even be able to find a falconer who would capture the animal for you.

If you break our countries very reasonable laws regarding nuisance animals and birds of prey then you deserve to go to jail, how much you care for your chickens does not change that.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 3:24AM
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Go preach at somebody else Brendan. Our country is super screwed right now because you and your buddies voted for Obama

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 4:39PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

lol here good thing keep out Hawk and owls but 79 dollars.G.Q.F. Manufacturing Co.
2343 Louisville Road (ZIP 31415)
p.o. Box 1552
Savannah, Ga. 31402-1552 U.S.A.
Phone 912-236-0651 Fax 912-234-9978

I use this for my chickens it work on coyotoes to and deer if having problem with deer.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 6:14PM
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Well, I would like to say a few things. First of all, I wouldn't put my chickens into the "love" catagory. I know a lot of people here love their chickens and keep them as pets and that I truly appreciate. I value and care for my chickens, I feed them and enjoy their antics, love their eggs, and want them to have happy little chicken lives. I don't cuddle with them or hold them in my lap, they are not "pets" to me. That being said, there is no reason on this earth that I am not entitled to protect them on my own property.
You keep saying "raptors." Eagles are majestic and the symbol this country uses for freedom. Hawks are also quite majestic as LONG AS THEY DON'T MESS WITH MY ANIMALS. If you want to follow the letter of the law and be so politically correct (You are WAY off the mark here. I'll give you this, I'm not a farm girl (but trying) and I do not understand a lot of things but I do know this: I will protect what I have, my own critters deserve that. If I had said otherwise maybe you would say I wasn't a very responsible animal owner? I don't know, you can't please everyone and truthfully I am not going to try. My animals are well-tended to and if I need to get rid of a critter that continues to prey upon them, I will or have someone do it. Period.

I guess I don't understand your complaints and that is why I have reacted, so sorry. I get that some of our creatures are endangered. Lori

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 7:44PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I vote libertarian, Obama was running on the democratic party ticket so he did not get my vote or my support.

My concern for raptors is not based on their majesty
h as their utility. Wolves and mountain lons as predators are very effectively replaced by man, raptors that have been driven out of any given area have not been effectively replaced by anything.

Also do you think the conservation officer is going to be making decisions based on his sensibilities? I suspect that they will make their choices based on the population data that exsts regardng the species of hawk that is giving you the problems.

With mammal species large litters can be produced, because of the realities of flight raptors can only have a few offspring and very few young birds make it to adulthood.

Raptor populations can be very vulnerable, and we need them. Your attitude of "nothing matters if they are hurting my livestock" is a reckless one, one that on a whole has really damaged a lot of livestock. Look at the tragedy of the commons, or the depletion of fish stock. No one did those things with the intention to destroy their livelyhood, it was done because what is best for everyone is seldom a matter of each one of us doing what is best for ourselves. Shared resources must have access restricted, not completely but to a reasonable degree. The attitude that that restriction is unreasonable prevents a Nash equilibrium from emerging and prevents everyone from being sucessful.

I am not telling you to not kill the hawk, I am telling you that you need to follow the laws, incompetence of local law enforcement aside. The Bald and Golden eagle protection act is about majesty, but the other acts regarding destruction or capture of hawks are based on ecology.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 8:55PM
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As someone else stated in an earlier post,as long as there's a free "chicken buffet" the hawk(s) will keep coming. If fencing,etc. won't keep them out,then we have to do what we have to do to protect our livestock.I'm not really inclined to care that that attitude is not "politically correct", since I have no use for being "p.c."anyway. I found the comments by Brendan to be very interesting. Especially in light of the fact that on another post,he asks about rats and says that he's been "mulling over" some "cellular biology" ideas for rat control. Isn't that a little like preaching to the choir ? Is he planning on decimating entire hordes of rats/mice ? Is that not messing with the eco-system ? I don't think anyone here on this forum has the intentions of going out and slaughtering every raptor they come into contact with.Occasionally,when you get a pesky hawk,coyote,bobcat,etc. that won't leave the livestock alone, you just have to eliminate the problem.I don't intend to ask the government if it's okay to shoot a predator on my own land. They poke their noses into too much of our business as it is. Now they even want to control what kinds of foods we eat for crying out loud. Sorry for the long post :>) That comment by Brendan just really got me ticked off. If you aren't practising what you preach,then don't preach to the choir.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 9:17PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

And what rat ecosystem exactly are you talking about? As far as I am currently aware Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus are found in two places 1) in human settlements and 2) in places with no recent evolutionary history of mammals. And that is why I am asking, I'm starting out on a 5 year or so fact finding mission and I never said anything about mice, I have an idea for rats, rats and mice are different.

I am not preaching that there is anything sacred about nature or that we need to respect it as it is, I am saying that we need to understand that what we do has consequences and do our earnest best to understand those consequences before we act. A conservation officer will be well informed on the issue in a way that gardengalrn and the rest of us are not (we don't even know what species and sex the hawk is).

Again in bold if you missed it it is not the killing of hawks that worries me, t is doing it in a state of ignorance regarding so many important factors. I am "preaching" thinking before you act and following the laws that apply and I am practicing thinking before I act and following the laws.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 11:10PM
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