Friday, October 31, 2008

Hawk! Protecting the chickens.

About a week ago I was outside chatting with neighbors and SWOOP there goes a red-tailed hawk being chased by a bunch of grackles. Uh-oh. I have seen red-tailed hawks in downtown Phoenix before, but we've only had little kestrels in my neighborhood (that I've seen) until now. I thought about what I should do and that I'd better keep an eye out. Well, two days ago I hear a crazy commotion outside like someone just threatened 1000 bird nests and sure enough, I go outside and the sky is crazy with birds going every direction and right above them is my hawk. I move into the chicken pen figuring that would protect the chickens (who were all hiding beneath bougainvillea), when the hawk dives down and lands on a wall about 15 feet away from me. I move towards it and after a few steps it flies off onto the neighbors fence and I eventually get it to fly away. I had no idea they were so brazen.

The babies (now 7 and 5 weeks old) are still in a smaller fully enclosed coop, but the adult chickens are free-rangers inside the pen. I didn't want to confine them to their pen permanently, though I did for the rest of that day, so what should I do? I looked online for large netting, but that area would be very difficult to secure with a net because of several trees and bushes that are quite tall. I then read online about someone who spider-webbed his pen leaving smaller than 6 foot openings and that seemed to deter the hawks, so I grabbed a huge roll of macrame rope someone gave me and started webbing. I hope it works. It looks perfect for halloween back there, but I'm afraid after the holiday, my animal area is more starting to resemble a miniature shanty town. My neighbors undoubtedly think I'm crazy, I'm not sure it will even work, and it looks like crap. I think when our finances get a little more stable, I'm going to start saving up for the materials to build a 20'X 15' fully enclosed chicken aviary.

For several reasons, I hope that comes soon.


brenda said...

when i first had my chickens i remember hawks coming thru and the chickens screaming bloody murder. i remember stringing yarn/twine in zig-zaggy shapes around my back yard and and attaching aluminum foil to the yarn. i had probably read this idea on a website somewhere. every once in a while i will see hawks, but they haven't gotten any of the chickens, but also the chickens are now in much more enclosed areas with roofs for shade so i am sure that helps--- i think hawks won't fly into very enclosed areas---not sure of that though, ....good luck to you Rachel....i remember sleepless nights wondering if i was doing the right thing....i heard about your chicken class in the permaculture email and i really wanted to come to it...maybe next time if you do it again.


phd in yogurtry said...

prickly pear picking update:

thanks again for your suggestion to freeze them!

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find a way to deter hawks as well. I am getting a new puppy in a few weeks and she weighs about 2 pounds. I have seen 3 hawks flying over my neighborhood. I live in a subdivision..and I was totally surprised.

Any suggestions to protect my new yorkie?