Tag Archives: protecting chickens

Lesson 1153 – Birds of Prey and chickens

I’ve said it before and I said it again this past weekend to one of our neighbors – when you make the decision to free range your chickens, you have to accept the fact that some are going to be lost.

I’ve seen a large hawk in our yard twice this past summer, fortunately, none of our chickens were taken, but when I was talking to our neighbor she told me that another neighbor had seen an eagle flying away with a local cat.

“Eagle? Really, are you sure it wasn’t a hawk?”

She assured me that the woman who had seen the eagle clearly identified it as an eagle.

When another cat owner in our neighborhood went out to search for her cat that was missing, she found her cat’s carcass in pieces. She also believes that the eagle is to blame.

So whether it’s an eagle or a hawk, it doesn’t really make much difference. There is a large bird of prey in our neighborhood that is attacking our pets. Fortunately we have not lost a chicken to the predator… yet.

So if you let you chickens free range, how on earth can you protect your flock from the danger that is flying above?

The most important thing you can do is make sure the chickens have several places to hide. In our yard we have an overhang on the house that our chickens can duck under at a moment’s notice. We also have a storage area under the coop and our shed’s doors are kept open when the flock is out (and I know they go in there from the droppings that I find.) Lastly we have low bushes around the perimeter of our property that the entire flock will scurry under if they see a flying shadow or hear that very definitive shriek.

And with regard to that shriek, when the chickens are in alert mode, they call out to each other – it’s a very specific call that once you are a chicken owner, you learn to identify, just as a mother learns her baby’s hunger from a fussy cry. I’m fortunate enough to work from home so when I hear that cry of alert from our flock, I go out to the yard to check on them.

It hasn’t happened often and twice I ended shooing off a hawk, but it’s yet another tool in our flock’s arsenal.

When it comes to birds of prey, it’s basically a roll of the dice. If a hawk or eagle wants one of your chickens, they are going to take one of your chickens. The best you can do is make sure your chickens have the tools they need to hide and then hope for the best.



Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal

Lesson 1139 – A matter of time

 I finally caught up with our neighbors on the *other* side of our property. As the juveniles (delinquents) get braver and braver, they roam further and further from home, right into, you’ve guessed it, our neighbor’s property where they’ve found a wide open grass lawn just ready for yummy insect picking.I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to keep these hoodlums from their property but just like human teens, as soon as you designate something as forbidden, the kids will test you on it. Say no and they are on top of it – see you later.

Sure enough, my young flock has passed the natural boundary of the woods and is fully into the green, green grasslands on the other side.

I apologized. “I’m so sorry,” I told our neighbor. “We shoo the birds back whenever we see them nearing your property.”

“No problem at all,” she told me. “Your chickens can eat all the bugs and ticks from our lawn that they want.” This is another neighbor that has not seen a tick on any of her outdoor cats this summer. She enjoys our chickens and looks forward to seeing them scratching in her yard.

Do you know what a difference it makes when your neighbors accept your flock? (and yes, our neighbors will be getting eggs as soon as the brats start laying)

She did warn me about the large female falcon she has seen in her yard (and which she blames for the death of one of her cats.) I’ve seen the falcon twice in our yard, and my flock (even the obnoxious juveniles) knows to take heed (they all rush to hide under bushes or low hanging areas.) Our neighbor also warned me about a large fox that she has seen pacing our property line.

I know it’s just a matter of time. As I tell people in my chicken classes, if you make the decision to free-range your chickens, you make the decision to lose a few to predators. As long as you understand that, all is well.

Because I’m one who likes to have her cake and eat it too, I physically get up from my desk and check on the chickens several times a day, thinking that maybe I can keep them from harm. But I’m also a bit of a realist. Roving chickens are targets.

And I know it’s just a matter of time.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal

Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 227 – Putting the lock on the door


We all crave it. We all need it, whether it be a soft teddy bear to hug tightly in the middle of the night or a friend’s comforting hand on your shoulder – no words – just knowing she is there, it makes us feel better, safer.

There’s also physical security. A check downstairs after the last child has gone to bed in order to make sure the doors are locked, the lights are out and all is safe, a warning “be careful!” called out when you hear someone running down the stairs, the tops of cleaner bottles securely closed. Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, All things local, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Life Lessons, Project Chickens before the Eggs, The Family