You don’t even weigh 5lbs!
This is a rough-footed hawk. And that is my chicken tractor it is inside of.
This particular bird, you may know, killed one of my CX’s earlier this year when they were about 6 weeks old. Ripped off it’s head and would come back time and time again to dive bomb the tractors, even when the birds were about 8lbs. I am pretty sure this bird may have taken one or two of my maran chicks as well and maybe some baby bunnies.
The last of those CX’s went to freezer camp a few weeks ago after a month of no hawk sightings but then I saw an ad on Craigslist. This person inherited nearly 50 chickens (30+ egg layers and 10+ meat birds) from their neighbor when they died. This person had NOTHING to do with these animals, raised them all to laying age (9 months) including the meat birds and then gave them away for free. So last week I brought home 10 new chickens. Six egg layers that are fitting in quite well, and four 14lb CX hens, one of which I butchered day of.
The other three CX’s went into a tractor to basically detox. There were kept quite poorly, free fed nothing but scratch grains and water inside of a small pen in a gloomy shed. I wanted to give them a massive dose of nutrients and basically make them cleaner inside before butchering. Especially after seeing the dismal conditions of the organs on the first bird. Yuck!
Well this morning I awoke to them screaming. I poked my head out my window, peering at an empty yard and panicked birds in the tractor… But an empty yard. Then I counted the birds in the tractor. One, two, three…. Four?
I went running outside in my jammies only to find this hawk all stuck up in my chicken tractor. The door to the tractor is like a funnel of wire through the top. A great way in, nigh on impossible to get out. The hawk went in, thinking there was an easy meal, realized the chickens weighed 3-5 times what it did, and then could not get out. It spent quite some time, leaping at the walls with it’s feet, grabbing them, falling on it’s back and then being trampled by 15lb birds into the mud.
After a little while of Nukka trying valiantly to eat the hawk through the fencing I sent her inside and released all four birds to the world. The chickens bolted. The hawk hopped about three feet and sat there, stunned. Frankly, I would be pretty stunned too if I had been trampled by chickens!
I tried to shoo the bird into flight and away but it was in too much shock to do that. It just ran onto my compost pile. And sat there. I had a grounded mud-covered chicken-killing hawk and three injured chickens loose in my lawn.
Eventually a solution was had. A pair of jeans came out and went over my arms and hands. I grabbed it’s feet and hauled it’s ass outside of my yard. It was released outside of my fence and ran off. Later I contacted a raptor center and explained the situation. When I went to catch the bird to ship it off to a rehabber it flew off, very lopsided but it flew. No catching it once it was in the trees.
The aftermath was not so bad. The chickens had all done more damage to themselves than the hawk did to them. there were some bloody combs and a couple of nicks here and there but the biggest injuries are severely bruised and battered wings from them flailing about, trying to get away from the hawk, and beating them into the tractor walls. There may be some broken wing bones and some early processing for these birds. We’ll see.
And the egg layers? They’re all fine. They just hid under the rabbit hutch and stayed quiet until it was all over.
I can only hope this hawk learned it’s lesson to GTFO of my yard. I am totally OK with wildlife that does NOT jump into my animal pens and does not try to kill my animals, or me for that matter! There are several of this type of hawk around and none of the others have attacked my birds. At least this one may never come back again! If it wasn’t injured physically at all, surely the shame of being beat up by chickens will make it want to go away and never return! A girl can dream, right?
I hope I never have to deal with a downed hawk again!