Here in urban Phoenix there are three enemies occupying the top spots on the list of chicken predators. The Coyote, two hawks in specific, and the Bull snake.
Coyotes aren’t usually seen during the day, sundown seems to be when they’re most active. They’re rather greedy too, seldom stopping at one bird. It’s not uncommon for them to wipe out half the backyard flock. Not only should the chicken yard be secured with a fence buried at least a foot in the ground. Concrete around the bottom as well would be ideal. Don’t assume that a six or seven foot block wall perimeter fence will keep out a coyote, it won’t.
If at all possible, having a raised chicken coop that can be completely closed up at night is the best way to protect your birds. The top of your chicken yard or run needs to be enclosed with aviary netting, because in-flight predators are next on the list of chicken enemies.
The Red Tail Hawk is not fussy about what time of day they snatch a chicken from the flock. These birds are very intelligent, so you’ll need to be creative if you’re going to outsmart them. They are indeed capable of carrying off an average size chicken.
Below is our resident Harris Hawk, smaller, and not capable to carrying off an average sized chicken. However, be aware that these birds work as a team. Where there is one, there is usually two more. They are patient and relentless towards their goal, give them the slightest invitation and they will take it. Once they find a flock, they will circle over head, then sit on a nearby roof, or fence. This could go on for days while they intelligently calculate their plan of attack.
There is at least one Bull snake slithering around our ranch. These predators are more of a problem with chicks or very young birds. Keep in mind when reaching to collect eggs that they have the same agenda! Look before you reach! They are harmless to humans, but they can be quite startling just for their size alone! Chickens are terrified by them and that could interrupt their egg production. It’s important to keep your birds safe and secure from Bull snakes with the same aggressive measures as the predators mentioned above.
Remember, respect predators for their place in society, your job is not to prove where your place is on the food chain – it’s merely to prove you are smarter.
amy elizabeth, TBN Ranch