We’ve had chickens for 2 full years now, and our only problem with predation had been our own dogs and passing coyotes. Coyotes are shy of humans and only come by night when the chickens are safely locked up. I’ve only seen one on our property during the day, and it was gone as soon as it saw me. The dogs are not shy at all, and it’s hard to convince them that small running animals should not be chased, but it can be done with a little gentle persuasion.
This Monday, we faced an entirely new kind of predator: Chickenhawk! Specifically, a Cooper’s Hawk. (Photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.)We hadn’t been worried much about hawks as they rarely go after full-grown chickens. A Red-Tailed Hawk (which also live in the area) only weighs 1-1.5 pounds, while an adult chicken averages closer to 6-8 pounds. A Cooper’s Hawk weighs only 0.5 to 1 lb. Yet, Monday afternoon we heard terrified clucking coming from the chicken coop. My dad went to investigate and saw the culprit, whom at first he mistook for one of the chickens. The hawk darted under the nest box, then sped past my dad and took off. One chicken was dead, right in the coop:
The others ran for the hills:
Here’s the interior of the coop after the attack:
The next day, the hawk was back and was again after the chickens, though this time my mom managed to foil him before he could kill. Clearly, we’ve got a problem!
Scaring hawks away using owl decoys seems to be ineffective, at least based on the information found on this forum. The only effective way is to cover the area where the chickens range. However, we let our chickens out during the day and there’s no way we can cover the whole area where they go.
We didn’t want to hurt the hawk either, partly because we like hawks, and also because it’s illegal. One of my friends suggested firing up into the air to make noise. That sounded reasonable, so that was what my brother did next time we saw the hawk. So far, it has not been back, so maybe that worked. I shall keep this blog updated with how the situation develops.
Here you can see my brother doing his homework while he watches the sky.
Although the chicken hawk attacks have dominated local headlines, this week also saw the arrival of the first batch of 50 Cornish Cross chicks. We’re planning to raise 4 batches, or 200 chickens this summer.
Here’s an outside view of our brooder, which is an 8′ x 9′ wooden garden shed. You can see my dad and some of the chicks inside.