Urban Chickens Fall Victim to Predators Too

This past year has been our worst ever for predator attacks. For twelve years, not a one, now, in 2016 we’ve had five. Three were by coyotes, one by a hawk, and yesterday, a bobcat. When the first attacks happened in February, we predator proofed all our coops better over a few months.

2016 Hatch 500 42816

We are finally done and everybody is safe. Then, yesterday I thought it would be nice to let the flock out for 20 minutes while I cleaned the coop.
They stayed close, no more than 20 feet away from where I was working. Sounds safe enough right? NO. Hard to even believe this, but, a bobcat jumped up from behind our 7ft block wall and snatched Peaches, my best mamma Silkie hen and took off with her. Seriously, what are the chances of that happening? I’m devastated.

So much for trying to be kind to my girls with a little free roam time. I never in a million years thought a bobcat or any other predator would attack with me out there, I was dead wrong. And… if you think because you’re in the city your chickens are safe, they’re not. Our little farm is located in the middle of the city, with mega traffic and high density housing all around us. There is however, 700 acres of state leased mountain range right behind our property. Nevertheless, you’d think a busy neighborhood with a maze of block wall fencing would keep predators within their natural boundaries, or at least somewhat discourage them. Wrong, trust me, there are no boundaries.

Although I’m embarrassed to admit I allowed my flock to fall victim to a predator when I should have known better, I’m warning you now to never assume your birds are safe. Beware, chickens are NOT safe unless they are in a predator safe enclosure at all times…  even in the city, and even if you’re right with them.

Below are pics of the predators spotted on our urban farm in the last year. A dangerous mix that most people probably assume are unlikely to be within the city limits.  Guess what… wherever you live, they’re prowling in your backyard as well. Keep your chickens protected, and remember, some predators will also go after a small dog. Today we bought a large 10x10x6ft high covered dog pen so our little dogs are safe when they go outside.  All this pretty acreage, and sadly they aren’t safe to run free and enjoy it anymore.

These predators have all visited our little urban farm at one time or another in 2016.

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Top Chicken Predators in Urban Phoenix

Here in urban Phoenix there are two major enemies occupying the top spots on the list of chicken predators. The Coyote and two hawks in specific.

coyote

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.

Red Tailed Hawk

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.

Harris Hawk in Phoenix, AZ

Don’t Forget this Guy…

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!

Bull Snake

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.