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Cooper's Hawk odd behavior  RSS feed

 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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Let me start by saying that I'm not terribly concerned about this bird.  It has had plenty of opportunity to kill my hens but hasn't done so.  Mostly I'm sharing because this experience has fascinated me but if anyone has any insight that would be great.

This all started about two weeks ago.  I've seen Cooper's Hawks around before and even witnessed one chase a dove.  One morning a CH starts up this whistling sort of calling.  It's making a huge amount of noise for what is a stealth predator.  The noise continued all day and after a while it kind of felt like the bird was circling our yard.  It was doing a lot of hanging around in surrounding trees then later in the day in the tree immediately over my hens run.  I even went out and shooed it away once.  My hens several times that day made noise alerting me to the fact that the hawk was too close for comfort.  I decided to lock the ladies up early as a precaution.  I look out later when the hens should be going to bed and the CH is perched on the corner of the coop.  The next day we get more noise and a few more visits from the CH. 

A few more days go by with nothing then one morning the CH is in the tree over the run again.  I was out in the yard at the time so I shoo it away.
Another day I'm watching TV and the hens start making a ruckus.  I go out to see what's up and CH is sitting on a shoulder high branch in the chicken run.  I locked the ladies up as a precaution and 10 minutes later they were making noise again because the CH is sitting on the coop roof again.  Later that day I let my hens have run of the yard for a little while while I was out and could watch them.  Guess who showed up in a tree nearby?  One of my hens saw it and let me know.
Another day or two later and my pet cockatiel startles and flies off his perch that is attached to the sliding glass door.  I managed to look just in time to see a wing and tail wheel away.  Looked out the back door and CH is sitting perched on the top of my patio umbrella.  It didn't hit the glass but I'm pretty sure it tried to eat my cockatiel.
A few more days and I'm sitting out on my deck in the morning and the hawk swoops across my yard and lands in the neighbors tree.  I went over to that fence to have a look and decided I'd pull a few weeds while I'm there.  My yard is only 100ft wide in the back but that seemed to be far enough for CH to go land on the chicken coop again.  I shooed it away again but it came back a few minutes later.  I think it didn't see me behind a tree and it left as quickly as it came.
Today I happened to look out my back door just as the CH swoops down and lands in the chicken run.  I go running out there and it's just standing on the ground and flies about 20ft away and lands on the fence.  I think my hens were confused because they didn't make any noise about the hawk this time.
 
Jim Fry
Posts: 87
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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If it is young hawk, it sounds like it is working up the "nerve" and experience to grab a chicken. If that is so, shooing it away will not stop it. I suggest removing it permanently.
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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Ugh, I hope not.  Chickens are awfully big prey for a Coopers.  I don't think I could get away with any kind of permanent elimination.
 
Deb Rebel
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I agree. It found food, but it doesn't know how yet or doesn't have the nerve to try taking on such a large prey. You may have to get someone to get rid of it for you if you can't do it yourself. Before it gets brave enough and starts picking your chickens off. Sorry.
 
Marcus Billings
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Location: South Central Indiana
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Worst chicken losses I've experienced besides domestic dog were from Cooper's Hawk.  He's probably young and sizing them up.  Any day now you'll probably find a hen dead with the flesh pecked away from the head and neck area.  Sometimes breast.  They will eat right where they kill them, they won't carry them away.  And once they start, they will keep coming back until you have no chickens.  Worst chicken predators I've seen.  I would advise taking a permanent solution.  Just my opinion. 
 
Hester Winterbourne
Posts: 202
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Sounds like when he was making all the noise he was hoping parents were going to come and feed him.  Young buzzards about this time of year sit disconsolately on the field behind my house begging for long periods.  You need to teach him quick that your property is not a good place to hang out.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Clay balls and a slingshot can deter many animals. I totally agree that he is probably a juvenile. Loud vocalizations are not usually a sign of predatory activity. Most critters sneak up on their prey, in silence.

If it is newly fledged, it is probably not committed to your territory. If it was dinged with a clay ball every day, it might choose a new place to live.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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First thing you need to know is All Raptors are Protected by Federal Law, it is a huge fine and jail time to kill one, be in possession of any part of one (feather etc.)
Even we First Peoples have to have documents from the Federal Government to be able to have this part of our culture.
There is no leniency for any reason. Unlike other predators where you are allowed to protect your livestock, that rule does not apply to Raptors (hawks, kites, eagles, osprey).

Second thing is, yes this sounds like a youngster and it will get a chicken eventually.
The easiest way to get hawks to go away is to run colored lines, crisscrossed at around a foot apart, (I like to use 60 lb. red catfish fishing line because you get a lot for just a little money), high enough that you can walk under it comfortably all over the back yard.
The hawks will see those lines and not come in because it will injure their wings.

Redhawk
 
r ranson
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I had a coopers hawk try to snatch a chick a couple of weeks ago.  When we arrived, the hen was battling the hawk.  They rose together vertically in the air about 6 feet.  It was incredible to see.  There were a lot of Cooper hawk feathers in the air, but no chicken feathers.  The hen had blood on her, not her own.  One chick had talon marks on its back and was huddling in the corner.  All the others were fine.

Jessica Padgham wrote:Ugh, I hope not.  Chickens are awfully big prey for a Coopers.  I don't think I could get away with any kind of permanent elimination.


That's one option, but not one we want to encourage on this site.  In some parts of the world, this would be illegal and besides, permaculture as I understand it, is about finding a better way to work with nature rather than eliminating it.


For me, the above story isn't the first bird of prey encounter.  Things I've found help
- change the time of day the chickens are let out in the morning or shut up in the evening.  If they have a large enough house (and mine do), keep them inside for a few days.  Many birds of prey seem to have a time of day they like to arrive and hunt.  Ravens, for example, come here mid morning to steal eggs.  They have breakfast somewhere else, then come here for second breakfast, then move on with their day.  By opening up the birds an hour later, I managed to stop the ravens stealing eggs.  Our cooper's hawk comes just as the sun touches the trees in the evening.  If I go outside then, it flys away. 
- give the birds things to hide under.  Two wooden pallets, nailed together at the top to make a triangle they can hide under works really well.  I put my mum and chicks in the vegi garden and the babies spend most of their time under the squash leaves. 
- a good rooster is always on the look out for trouble.  He warns the hens, he fights the monsters.  If you live somewhere that you can have a rooster, get one.  They are wonderful.

 


 
Deb Rebel
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For cats, birds, etc, I use a wrist slingshot and frozen peas. They sting just enough to deter, and they are organic and will just become green fertilizer wherever they land.

I aim for the body.

It took me a bag and a half and a few days to get my aim, I'm pretty good now to about 60 feet. I keep a bag of ammo in the freezer and can grab some quickly if needed.

I did some leather and feather work for a First Nations customer once and it involved bald eagle feathers. There was a mess of paperwork they gave me to hold while I had possession of the feathers and I had to return all the featherfluffs and snips waste from the feather work. It was required.

This was shortly after someone had picked up sheds up at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo near the raptor cages, made dream catchers with them, sent one to the White House. Someone noticed it had bald eagle feathers. She got in a LOT of trouble (fine and jail) even though she had permission to pick up sheds off the ground at the zoo.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Yes indeed Deb, there have been a few people here that picked up sheds from the ground and the Feds are so strict that those sheds had to be handed over and the people who picked them up had to take the Feds to where they found the feathers.
We have also had two Bald Eagles found dead in the forest, those who found them, thankfully, called the Fish and Game without touching the bodies of the birds.
Fish and Game told them that it was a 5000 dollar fine and 1 to 5 years had they picked up any part of these animals.

There is a farmer currently in Prison for shooting a hawk that was attacking his stock animals (I believe they were chickens).
He thought he could dispatch any animal that was intending harm to his livestock.

Here in Arkansas, you can dispatch any 4 leg that attacks your stock animals but you can not dispatch Raptors.

We have cooper, redtail and harris hawks, Owls and bald and golden (maybe juvenile baldies) eagles that frequent our land, we also have raccoons, coyotes, skunks, weasels and opossum in the area.
The hawks and eagles have spotted our birds but the birds are with our hogs most of the day and that seems to prevent any attacks.

Just yesterday I found our egg stealer, a 5 foot long Rat Snake, in the coop. I removed him and he went back into the woods. I normally don't kill, except the raccoon that killed one flock, he and another were dispatched.
The Red Tail Hawk is my spirit animal and why I am named Redhawk.
 
r ranson
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Deb Rebel wrote:For cats, birds, etc, I use a wrist slingshot and frozen peas. They sting just enough to deter, and they are organic and will just become green fertilizer wherever they land.



This is a really neat idea.  I'm wondering if dried peas would have the same effect?  More easy to keep in my pocket and they might grow where they land. 
 
Deb Rebel
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Dried peas are too hard. The idea is not to badly bruise, just sting a little and startle them. The humane load for the slingshot is frozen peas. I have a couple of ancient melmac coffiee cups and will scoop some ammo into it and off I go. If I take a few pieces too many I do target practice after I scare my main target. This works great if you stay in practice and have aim. It took me a while to get good aim with the slingshot. (see: going through a bag and a half of 2# bags of peas). I buy the cheapest offbrand on sale bagged peas and keep a few bags in freezer, handy. They thaw quickly so carrying a supply as you do chores doesn't work. As on call responder to issue, it's good. (most of the cat chase work is within sight of my back deck as is the bird/pond chases).
Frozen peas also don't mess up feathers. Or very very little. If you zap something that needs a startle and might be an issue later this is important.
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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Deb, I like that frozen peas idea too.  Besides not wanting to actually injure the bird I'm in suburbia so rocks or clay balls would be putting my neighbors windows at risk. 

I won't be killing any hawks.  Besides being illegal I just admire them too much.  I did lose a hen to a Red-Tailed Hawk about 6 months ago.  I put up a few more hides for the hens after that but Coopers are awfully agile.  I'm not going to fault either bird for doing what it's designed to do.  In a way these close encounters have been really amazing.

Bryant, thank you for the fishing line idea.  I have some predator net to put up but the trees in the run were making it difficult to figure out how to cover a few spots and I think that will do the trick. 

R Ranson, I've noticed similar patterns to the visits.  Today though had been gray and drizzly and it just showed up an hour ago.  One of my hens is good at alarm calling as soon as she spots it.  They are locked up now.  I have one of those indoor/outdoor backyard coops so they can be in for a few days. 

 
Lorinne Anderson
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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I concur that this is a newly "graduated" Coopers who has obviously wore his parents out, and who have, well, given up on him and told him he is on his own, and to "suck it up buttercup" and fend for himself.  This is the time of year wildlife rescuers are picking up those raptors who need remedial hunting/flying classes, and off to rehab they go for a few weeks of honing their skills.

Any sort of roof, full netting or a grid of fishing line will be the most effective deterrent against aerial predation.  Yes, it will be tedious to set up, but on the same hand, it means the raptors will keep your property free of unwanted rodents such as squirrel, bunny, rat and mice.  So I encourage you in your plan to co-exist with the hawk, and you will both benefit in the long run.  Plus with a low volume of rodents on the property, you have just deterred the land predators (raccoon, bobcat etc.) as there simply isn't enough natural food to bother with your area.  Just remember, these are aerial acrobats, so ensure whatever you do is high enough for you to comfortably move around in the enclosure, but that it does attach at the top of your enclosure fencing (so you may want to include a "peak" if your enclosure fencing is too low).

 
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