Back on duty

So far we haven’t experienced last year’s hawk problems. But a couple of weeks ago, our neighbor warned us that he’d seen a pair of hawks with 2 babies in a nest near our fenceline. So when this batch of chickens went out to the pasture this past weekend, Ike went with them.

Like last year, he cries when I go to leave him in the pen in the morning. But as soon as I’m out of sight he seems to settle into his role of chicken protector. When I return in the late afternoon, this is the scene:

Notice how his butt is touching the electric poultry netting. All of that hair insulates him, apparently. Good thing he’s a good dog and doesn’t challenge the fence.

This afternoon while I was out there I saw the hawk circling overhead.

It circled, and screeched. A most eery sound. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West. “I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little chickens, too!”

It finally landed on top of a power pole for a bit, then took off towards our house. It circled up there a bit then headed back, presumably, to its nest.

As I watched it I thought to myself, I’ll bet it’s been snacking on ducklings. Sure enough. The 2 ducks I’d tracked down in the pasture a couple weeks ago showed up near the chicken coop when I was picking up eggs. The one that had 6 ducklings was down to 5. Not too bad, really. But the one that had 10 ducklings was down to 1.

Hawks. The nemesis of our pastured poultry operation.

3 years ago:

Stan’s ferris wheel

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8 Responses to Back on duty

  1. What a great dog to have – are you training Ava to do this as well? We too have lots of hawks. It will be interesting with the chickens out in their run…Kris

  2. Susan Sophia says:

    Do your chickens get locked up at night in that little house? Do you move them around in the pasture? If so, I assume the house is moveable? I really want some movable houses for chickens and am trying to determine the best scenario.

  3. heyercapital says:

    Every spring we see amorous rabbits in our neighborhood and tree line. Early every summer we have a couple adolescent bunnies that frequent our yard and perennial flower beds. Late every summer, for one week, we hear great horned owls in the forested block up the street. (Hoooo hooo-hoo-hooo.) Then I find rabbit carcasses. Problem solved.

  4. Bobbi says:

    Red-tailed hawks are one of the main reasons I haven’t started my own backyard chicken flock! We have a mating pair that lives in a dead tree near the back of our property. I love to watch them fly, but I hate to think of them catching my chickens!

  5. Susan Sophia says:

    I read in Countryside awhile back that if you string fishing wire back and forth above your chicken yard that the hawks and eagles don’t come near. They seem it glimmering from way up high won’t touch.

  6. Twinville says:

    hehe “I’ll get you my pretty and your little chickens, too!”.The hawks are like the flying monkeys owned by the witch.I love your imagination.We hadn’t any hawks for a few months around here, so we’ve been letting the chickens out of the coop more often.But yesterday, one was swooping all over our pasture and getting pretty close to the house.The ravens usually chase them off around here and don’t seem to be a threat to full grown chickens, so we’re glad to see the ravens.But, unless I can sit out with the chickens, I’m going to keep them in their coop for a while, at least until the hawk’s nestlings fledge the nest. Our coop has bird netting over it, so nothing can swoop in. Great photos, by the way

  7. Kris – no, Ava just doesn’t have the makings of a livestock guard dog. I tried to teach her to herd the chickens when she was littler, but she’s afraid of being out in the pasture with the cows. ss – they can be locked up, but I generally don’t. The house is moveable, with the tractor. You can see a little more about it here.Brian – you’re brilliant, getting the wildlife to work for you :)bobbi – I know! I freaked the first time it happened!twinville – definitely better safe than sorry :)

  8. Willow Witch says:

    I had a hawk pick off all of my ducks a few years ago. I thought a coyote was getting them till we came home and found a hawk on the bank with one of the ducks. We just got a bermese/pyr cross pup and he is a love I hope I can get him to watch the chickens. Right now my two Blue Heelers are busy herding him. I am curious, right now I just have my egg chickens and I have netting over their run so I dont worry about threats from over head but with your range chickens how do you protect them at night? Do you worry about owls? And does that fence keep out the 4 leg critters at night?