We all know about the danger of predators and keeping chickens. But sometimes our busy lives get in the way, and we tend to put off mending that fence or coop door latch until tomorrow. After all, none of us think we’ll ever tell the story of our own chicken yard slaughter.
The ugly horror of a vicious attack by a predator is an unpleasant thought indeed, but a necessary one. We learn to be better chicken keepers through mistakes. Experience is acquired through trial and error, but don’t underestimate the importance of awareness.
Looking for a Chicken Feast
Last night a giant owl discovered my chicken yards. Camped overhead and intently scouting the property for a feast. Fortunately, all my hens are in fenced enclosures with aviary netting atop. I do have one bird at slight risk, my new little Sizzle hen. She lives in the barn with our burro, Beamer. Jojo sleeps in a box on top of the hay pile, and during the day stays close to her donkey pal. For once I’m glad Beamer’s opinions concerning intruders are so obnoxiously LOUD. I can only hope the ruckus by a crazy ass in the barn will discourage the owls quest.
The Harris Hawk Also Visits TBN… Again
These beautiful unwelcome birds of prey are not strangers to the ranch, but this is the first time they showed up in numbers. Perched high above the chicken yard, they watch, then circle, and slowly move in closer. Once they see the aviary netting they diligently look for an entry. When their efforts prove unsuccessful, they get extremely agitated and vocal.
- Harris Hawks, Actual Birds
They’ve been easy to photograph because they aren’t the least bit intimidated by me. They stand their ground by making loud squawking noises, then spread their 3-4 ft wing span in an attempt to scare me… it works.
- Harris Hawk, Actual Birds
Two years ago this Harris Hawk grabbed my 6 lb. Rhode Island Red hen, Martha. Luckily, we were able to rescue her. Thanks to our house cat Eddy who witnessed the near catastrophe from a bedroom window. The hawk swooped down from the roof and landed on top of Martha, Eddy had such a fit we looked out the window to see what was going on.
If the hawk wasn’t alone that day we never would have had time to save Martha, it must have struggled with the hen because of her size. Considering Harris Hawks usually work together, it was only a matter of time before the family would be invited to the feast. This is when the grueling task of hanging aviary netting began.
- Martha’s Predator, a Harris Hawk