When Predators Attack

Yesterday evening we were sitting at the table, eating cookies and goat milk, when all of the sudden we heard a ruckus outside. From where the table sits in the dining room, we can see out into the fenced dog yard well. Just beyond that are two bulky oak trees and a long row of brush another eight feet out. The brush hides the easement driveway and neighbor’s house from our view.

All of our chickens burst into a fit and ran like hell down the little path behind the garage that leads to the brush along the easement driveway. Colonel O’Neill, our rooster, stood watch like a miniature, feathered crossing guard. We all jumped out of our chairs, obviously sensing that something must be wrong, and looked out the window for clues.

Trevor took Hänsel out the front door figuring that whatever predator was threatening the chickens must still be out front. Sure enough, it was. A Red-tailed hawk had one of our Speckled Sussex hens pinned to the ground going for a the throat. I suspect that Hänsel didn’t bark at the perp because he didn’t see any real difference between a red hawk and a red chicken.

It only took a second to realize that our BB gun was out of… wait for it… BB’s. Of course it was. We “shoo’ed” the hawk away as best as someone could and it sat in the pine tree above us waiting to finish the chicken off. I inspected the hen, but couldn’t find any wounds or blood. Phew!

The hen looked absolutely dead one second and then pooped her pants and ran off the next. She seemed a bit wobbly for a minute, but when I called and coaxed all the chickens around the house and into the coop, they all stayed by my side. By the time we reached the coop, I couldn’t tell which of the four Speckled Sussex hens was the one who was attacked.

With a severe lack of appropriate weaponry, we chased the hawk off with the garden hose. Real tough, we are.

10 thoughts on “When Predators Attack

    • You are absolutely correct Miku. There would be a substantial fine. All raptors are federally protected by law. That’s also why certified falconers need a federal permit to trap one no matter which state they live in.

      • Shooting at it or toward it, even with a pellet gun, is also illegal. Something about “harassment”. It’s a pretty serious thing too. I can’t imagine anyone would begrudge you spraying the hose at it if it had your hen in its claws, but there’s not much you can do besides try to trick it into thinking there’s an owl around or encouraging crows. Crows make a racket when a hawk comes around. Roosters will usually learn to call their hens in whenever the crows act up. Sort of an early warning system 🙂

  1. I’ve used my pellet pistol on hawks before. Just a couple of pumps, not enough to harm the bird, just enough to sting them. The hawk didn’t come back. Good luck!

    • Connie, shooting at raptors at all (even just to “sting them”), for any reason, could be considered “harrassment” under the law. This also carries a hefty fine if discovered by wildlife agents, whether state or federal.

  2. Sorry to hear about your hen. Unfortunately, predation (whether by raptors, raccoons or free-roaming dogs) is one of the pitfalls of having free-ranging chickens or rabbits. The federal law is quite clear and enforced regarding shooting or harrassing raptors for any reason (state laws are the same with mountain lions, even if one attacks your stock-only a registered agent would be allowed to take it). Just completed a course two weeks ago where they emphasized this.Occasional predation is the trade-off that some will choose in order to allow their stock to free-range. Some people compromise and use a “tractor” (covered pen on wheels) which they move around their property, that keeps hawks from taking the chickens. What is also interesting and was mentioned by Sarah is that chickens “trance” just like rabbits do when they are stressed. They appear to be “playing dead”, sometimes causing the predator to leave them alone. One can “hypnotize” a chicken similar to how one can “trance” a rabbit.

  3. Glad your chicken is alright. Laws be damned if something comes between me and mine. They have to catch me first.

    A pit bull went after my daughter’s chickens. She shot her 9 mm to scare it off. She lost two baby chicks and one hen.The next day, the same dog went after the neighbor’s 4 year old child. It had him pinned to the ground and was biting him in the neck and face. My daughter didn’t hesitate and shot the dog dead. The boy lived, but has endured two years of plastic surgery to restore his face.

  4. Oh my goodness what a close call your hen had. I have had my share of Hawks and Buzzards stalking my girls this last year. After walking out and seeing a huge hawk sitting on a post at the corner of the run I decided to take action. I put a very realistic mannequin in the run. She has long hair and eyes that appear to move with you as you walk by. I dressed her in flowing clothing so the slightest breeze makes her come alive. She looks so real she scared the buggers out of me the first several months she has been in the run. But its been 6 months and not one hawk or buzzard has bothered the chickens since.

    Hope you loaded the BB gun 😉

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