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 Post subject: Peregrine falcon?? Nope, it was a hawk
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 12:00 pm 
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On Thursday, a bird of prey attacked two of my chickens in the middle of the day and killed one of them. I am curious what type of bird it was.

I did not see its head. I only caught a glimpse of its back as it flew away. I can easily rule out red-tail hawk which I see frequently and recognize. I then thought of a golden eagle as I see them occasionally. But those are more brown in color.

This bird's back, wings and tail were dark grey and some darker barring on wings or tail feathers. The wing span was very impressive, I'm guessing 4-5 ft (but my mind could have exaggerated that a bit given the situation.)

Looking at pictures on the internet, I'm guessing a peregrine falcon. But do we have those birds in the Bailey area (near CR 43) during the winter? The internet maps say no (but those types of maps say we don't have any moose either and I've seen plenty of them here.)

Any other guesses what this chicken eating bird of prey could have been?


Last edited by CooknThyme on Feb 1, 2017 10:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 3:43 pm 
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We saw a rough-legged hawk in Deer Creek Valley the other day.
The size sounds closer than the Peregrine. They are known to
borrow a chicken now and again...
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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 4:20 pm 
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Wow, that's a beautiful bird! Must have been a wonderful sight to see!

But I'm thinking not the culprit. I did not see any white or light colored tail feathers. This bird was definitely mostly a slate grey. But I only caught a glimpse.


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 4:40 pm 
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And hopefullly you won't see the mystery bird again, no matter how beautiful. Sorry to hear you lost one of your chickens, CooknThyme. Are you letting them run free range or are they fenced?


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 5:45 pm 
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Thank you. It was a horrible experience and I am so broken-hearted. I loved that chicken. I have a tiny flock (only 3 now) and so I've become very attached to each one of them.

I'd like to know what type of bird it was so if it is something "normal" to my neighborhood then I might need to make some modifications to my set-up. I know I can't protect them from everything, but I want to do what I can.

My girls have different levels of security.
They have a small (~125 sq ft) predator-proof (well as much as one can), covered run attached to their hen house. Free access for them, except at night when they are locked into their hen house.
They also have a large open range area secured with an electric fence but no overhead cover (except trees). They usually have free access to that area when I am home. The fence keeps out my most common predator (neighborhood dogs) and the fox just run right past it. It would deter a curious bear, but would not stop a determined hungry bear.
Lastly they get supervised free range time whenever I have a chance to do that. Typically 3-7 times a week during the Spring, Summer and Fall. But only weather permitting during the winter.

This incident happened after the gate to their secured run had accidentally opened and they were unsupervised in the yard. The latch on that gate has now been modified with extra security. But that bird of prey could have easily killed one when they were in the uncovered fenced area.

I see red-tailed hawk frequently. But chicken is not on their normal menu. They prefer rodents (and I am grateful for that on all counts). I see golden eagles along CR 43 from time to time but not usually from my property.

I do not know what other birds of prey are common to this area. I'm hoping the local "bird people" will help me figure it out!


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 6:09 pm 
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It was probably a Goshawk. They are common around here and they love chickens.

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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 24, 2016 6:57 pm 
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Thank you. Yep, I think that's the bird. Thank you.
Wildlifeservices, you are wealth of information. I am so grateful that you are on pinecam.

Except for the color it looked just like this one (although I did not see it's head). But the written descriptions say the coloring of the backside of the adults is blue-grey, just like I saw. This pic must be a juvenile.

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From Kidzone:
Description - male: Northern Goshawks are large birds, 20 to 23 inches long with a wingspan of 40 to 43 inches.

Northern Goshawks have a dark gray to black crown, white eyebrow and black eyeline. The rest of their face, throat, breast and belly are white to light gray with fine vertical barring. They have a blue-gray back. Wings and tail and piercing red eyes.

Description - female: same as the male, though slightly larger -- 23 to 25 inches long with a wingspan of 43 to 46 inches.


From Natural Heritage:
The colorings of adult male and female Northern Goshawks
range from slate blue-gray to black. Their backs, the feathers
at the leading edge of the wings, and heads are usually dark,
and their undersides are white with fine, gray, horizontal
barring. Their tails are light gray with three or four dark
bands. The coloring of a juvenile goshawk is quite different
than that of an adult. Their backs, the feathers at the leading
edge of the wings, and heads are brown, and their undersides
are white with vertical brown streaking.


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 25, 2016 2:47 am 
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The bird could also be a Cooper's Hawk. We have had them sit on the branches in our yard hunting near the bird feeders. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Coopers_Hawk/id


Last edited by ravenous on Dec 25, 2016 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 25, 2016 9:29 am 
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Huh, Cooper's hawk? Yes indeed, same coloring and markings! Identifying birds is a tricky thing, eh. So many look alike.

I still don't know if the black birds in my 'hood are crows or ravens. Or I may have both. I know ravens are bigger but unless they are side-by-side I have no clue.

So I am still thinking that a female Northern Goshawk is the more likely culprit purely based on size and that it killed a 7-8 pound Buff Orpington chicken (not some little bantam).

My hen house is 38 inches wide and when the bird took off, the wing span was greater than that. How much greater, I am not certain.

My dilemma now is how to prevent future attacks. I fear that now that this bird of prey knows where to find healthy plump organic chickens that it will be back. So my girls may not be safe in their open pen anymore. Total bummer.

Thanks peeps for helping identify this bird. It was very helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 25, 2016 1:41 pm 
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"I still don't know if the black birds in my 'hood are crows or ravens. Or I may have both. I know ravens are bigger but unless they are side-by-side I have no clue."

Did you know an easy way to distinguish a crow from a raven in flight? Ravens will glide (soar), crows never stop flapping and will never glide.

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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Dec 25, 2016 2:00 pm 
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WildlifeServices wrote:

Did you know an easy way to distinguish a crow from a raven in flight? Ravens will glide (soar), crows never stop flapping and will never glide.


Good to know! Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Peregrine falcon??
Post Posted: Jan 30, 2017 6:41 pm 
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could have been a young goshawk. their coloring and markings are different than full gray adult

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