Thursday, October 25, 2012

Run Chicken, Run!! The Danger in the Sky

This is an update to my ongoing chicken education. A few weeks ago I came home from the grocery store and decided to go out back to check up on the girls. I heard a very loud squawk from behind a tree and my white chicken Tiggy came running out with a hawk running after her. I shouted and the hawk flew up, only to perch on my 6' privacy fence just to the left of the tree. I charged him and he flew back to the fence on the other side of the tree, not wanting to leave his prize dinner behind. I have to say this hawk was about 1/3 the size of my chicken and very focused.

Abby
At this point my geriatric dog Abby stuck her head out the back door. Normally she will chase, slowly but loudly, after any intruders in our yard -- bunnies, squirrels, birds that don't live here, dogs she sees through our fence. But for some reason she didn't notice the hawk on the fence. I started yelling to Abby to "get it, get it" pointing at the hawk. He finally took his eyes off Tiggy when he saw Abby, even though she remained clueless. The three other hens were already in the chicken run (smart girls!) so I shooed Tiggy in and locked the door so I could go in the house and research hawks.

Tiggy looking fierce
Coincidentally the issue of Mother Earth News I had sitting around had an article on sky-borne dangers to chickens. They had a lot of pictures and descriptions of predatory birds, but no solutions as to how to keep them away other than locking up the chickens. Not sure what the point was of that article.

After spending about 20 minutes following leads I found through Google, I learned that (1) hawks are territorial and will not come on a property if another hawk is already there and (2) a lot of people will put up a hawk decoy for this reason.

Bird B Gone
Amazon, as usual, came to my rescue. They have a hawk decoy by Bird B Gone that was recommended by one of the articles for being pretty successful. I have free 2 day shipping with Amazon, so my decoy arrived quickly. He looks good enough to make my chickens very nervous! They recommend moving him around so he doesn't look so decoy-like, which I do. It's been two weeks now and I haven't seen a real hawk yet. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

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