17 February 2013

More about chicken fencing and hawk attacks

Since the chickens have been mostly kept behind their new fence, we haven't seemed to have as much problem with hawks.  About half the area has a decent web of monofilament overhead, but the other half is a little more open.  I haven't taken the time to put up the fishing line, and there isn't as much to attach it to - that's going to take a little more thought...and work.

I was working in yard the other day when a shadow caught my eye - a hawk had just flown over my head, just a foot or two above, headed straight for the chicken area.  When it reached the new fence and monofilament, it banked hard and flew up over the garage.  I took this as anecdotal evidence that what I had done was protecting the chickens.  So much for that theory.

Last night was probably as cold as it's been all winter - 29 degrees here. After a cold night hawks are hungry.  About 8:30 this morning we hear the sounds of a hawk attack.  We see chickens hiding in one area, but no signs of a disturbance.  I go inside the fence to look around and it's quiet, until I hear a squawk.  There are a number of small volunteer nandina bushes in the area - I can't decide whether to cut them down, or leave them as cover for the chickens.  I move toward one these bushes and a hawk flies out of it, trying to carry one of the chickens with it.  Before it gets out of the yard it drops the hen.  I was able to catch her and take a look at her and she seems ok for the most part.  Meanwhile the chickens have mostly left the area through the gate that I left open.  The area where this attack happened was the less-well-protected area that I mentioned before.

So now that the chickens are out there's nothing I can do - it's like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.  They've congregated in an area against the house, near the back steps and the HVAC and the hot water heater.  It seems fairly safe to me, so I go back the the house.  An hour or so later we hear noises again, and a hawk has tried to get them there as well.  After a while I become curious where the chickens might be hiding this time.  I look all over the yard and I can only find two - one in a nesting box and one in the nandina.  Just after eleven - another hawk attack!  It appears the hen in the bush left to join the other chickens and was attacked the same place as before, near the house.  Ella came out and we were able to grab her and put her with the rest of the chickens.  They were apparently hiding in our covered garden storage area, among the pots and wire fencing.  No wonder I couldn't find them.

I hope they are going to be ok the rest of the day.  We have plans later and won't be around to protect them.  Everything that has happened today has made it that much more important that I work on putting up more monofilament and protecting the chickens better.

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