Join us as we chronicle the lives of East Village red-tailed hawks, Christo, Dora, and Amelia, as well as other New York City wildlife.
Beautiful. What a perfect summer we're having.
I've got a possibly dumb question...with all the trouble I've seen even Christo or Dora have with getting a pigeon, I wouldn't expect a redtail hawk to be able to go after a chicken. However, I know some gardeners who are certain the hawks are sizing up some particular chickens and will go after them. In my time in rural areas and on farms, I've definitely seen eagles and falcons (which are pretty large themselves and can hunt some surprisingly large animals) go after chickens, but I can't imagine a redtail able to to that. Any information on that from you and the rest of the Hawking Gang?
Not a dumb question! Red-tails are also called chicken hawks, but I'm not sure if that nick-name is deserved or not.I think the hawks prefer rodents, but they will go after what ever is available. If someone is letting their chickens run loose, I'd suggest keeping them in an enclosure with chicken wire to keep out predators (hawks are not the only predators around here). And now I have a question - if the gardens are keeping chickens, does that mean they're not using rat poison?
Lots of raptors get the "chicken hawk" nickname, so I've been ignoring that justification. (But, hey, I could be wrong.) Which bird is being referred to varies depending on where I've been. The chickens have an enclosure, but also spend some time wandering about, eating bugs and various veggies. I don't know about the rat poison, as it might be inside bait boxes where the chickens couldn't have access. Yeah, I'd assume the hawks would go for whatever they can get, but I also assume that they need maximum (protein & fat) return on minimum energy demand. A full-grown chicken is about the same weight as a redtail. Wingspan is a lot less, obviously. Mostly, I have no stats, only assumptions from observation of poultry on farms. Chickens have loads of predators -- rats (eggs, chicks), raccoons (eggs, chicks), possums (eggs, chicks), weasels, dogs, foxes, coyotes, bobcats if they are around, and certainly larger falcons or eagles -- but I've never seen a redtail go for one, and I've definitely seen redtails hunting in farm country and *still* only go for mice, shrews, rats, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, etc. I'd think that they'd go for bantams, but few people keep those...they're noisy, fight a lot, are really small...and the garden certainly doesn't have those.
Ideally, raptors also need space to swoop and surprise. A small garden stuck down between two buildings makes this difficult. And should a hawk show up (cuz a nice chicken dinner is just too good to resist), the chickens are going to know right away, and take shelter. Feral cats are a much greater threat here.