Saturday, October 5, 2013

Predators From Above

Heads up!!! No really, look up! Why? Well because it is fall raptor migration time and if you have chickens, well, you need to be aware. Hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, ospreys and falcons are currently winging their way south and possible past your coop!

Most hawks are soaring birds.... that means they depend on updrafts to help them travel. Sense large bodies of water have no updrafts, the raptors tend to follow land routes. This means they will follow shorelines in order to get around large bodies of water. Here in Michigan this is especially true. Bird watchers LOVE this fact and raptor viewing over by lake Erie is a highlight this time of year.

So how do you know when to start watching out for these predators from above? Well different species of raptors migrate at different times. Thanks to the bird watchers and their research, we know that for example the Broad-winged Hawks peak in their migration in September. Red-tailed Hawks, on the other hand, are a little later and reach their peak migration in November. After looking at all the data out there, and there is a lot, just assume you will need to be vigilant the late August till the end of November which is peak migration time for most raptors.

Be vigilant? What I mean is that you need to keep a close eye on and set up protection for your chickens. A lot of these migrating raptors are younger and willing to take more risk when looking for food.... food like your chickens. But what can you do? Make sure your coop and run are secure from all sides, including above. If your chickens don't have an enclosed run, well you are taking a chance, so make sure you have a lot of places they can hide if you are along a migration route. When you let your chickens out to free range, stay close by and keep an eye to the sky. Since these raptors are migrating in such large numbers, where there is one, well, assume there is more. If they pick off one chicken, others may notice this is an easy meal.

To learn more about how to identify raptors, head over to Hawk Mountain. The have some very good information there. And remember, knowledge is power... if you know they are coming, you can be prepared... and maybe even enjoy sighting some amazing new feathered friends.


8 comments:

  1. This is so interesting. Great post, Mindie!

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    1. Thanks! I had noticed may folks talking about hawks taking chickens and thought maybe if they knew what time of year it was it would help them understand and be more prepared.

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  2. Great article and link! I wondered what could of got my hen last week...this could be a possibility!

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  3. I've had hawks and buzzards stalking my chickens most of the summer. But about two weeks ago a hawk sat right on top of our run, watching my chicks. My rooster was making a spectacle of himself while all the girls hid behind the coop. Thank goodness I heard this unusual commotion and ran out there to scare the hawk off the top of the run. I have hawk netting overhead but his talons were quite large looking. Given more time he might have been able to tear his way inside. Since that day I put a mannequin I had left over from my store in the chicken run. She is so real looking that she scares the crap out of us every time we go out there, lol. I just hope she looks real to the hawk. We haven't seen him back since, but the mannequin is staying put. She wears a pretty flowing bright skirt set and long hair coming out from under her hat.

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  4. Subscribing from Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy.

    Very interesting post, especially as we are going to be getting some chickens in the not-so-distant future. Although for now, I think our biggest chicken-snatcher problems will come from our dogs, cats and the occasional wild animal that roams the area.

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  5. Loved to let our chickens roam the yard. The red tail hawk got our prize bantam, so we had to fence & coop. Now the hawks watch the bird feeder.

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