Hawks will assess their hunting situation from vantage points low to the ground, then take flight to survey the land
from above. I believe they investigate the ground closer to see if its worth hunting in that particular area. Once a hawk
is in circular flight it is most likely already after something in the area, its just staying up high so as to make prey feel
more comfortable. This will make it easier for the hawk to pick out individuals. Ducks will usually freeze in one position
when a hawk is spotted far above. Remember also that large hawks do not swoop from extreme altitudes to get their prey. Most
including the Redtails and Red shouldered will hunt from lower tree branches. Its only the Falcons and Sharpshinns that can
dive to get prey. The other hawks are too heavy to recover from such a dive. Just keep an eye on any surrounding trees because
this is most likely where an attack will come from. I have seen Red Tailed pairs hunt poultry together. One will scare
the birds and drive them into a corner of a pen and the other will be there to gab them from the pile. Hawks are extremely
intelligent and are very capable of problem solving in order to secure a meal.
Geese are very effective at deterring hawks, but only if they are used in the
right situation. They only work if they are bonded to the duck flock and are not in a pair bond with other geese. Three
or four female geese would be good, but even tempered ganders will work the best. They also work better in smaller pasture
situations, otherwise the geese will tend to wander away from the ducks. Although, I have noticed that the ducks do fallow
close behind the geese, snatching up any bugs that the geese stir up. In late winter and spring the ducks are most vulnerable
to a raptor attack. In late winter and spring, geese will generally be more interested in finding their nesting sights and
ganders enjoy calling for potential mates rather than associating with the ducks. At this time it is very important to keep
the ducks either in a covered pen or a small pen with an open house that they can retreat to if a hawk is overhead. It
is also important to only keep geese with the larger duck breeds. Geese are very strong and can injure the small ducks more
easily. Geese should never be housed at night with the ducks. They will each need their own separate predator proof night
pen. TREES ARE NO PROTECTION against hawk attacks. Trees are merely an advantage point for the hawks. The most dangerous
hawks to the ducks are Sharp Shinn and Coopers hawks, both of which hunt in and around trees and are extremely capable of
maneuvering around branches. Also, Red Tailed and Red Shouldered hawks will perch in trees awaiting the emergence of rodents
from under the leaf litter. So, be aware that trees in the duck pens will actually encourage hawks during the fall, winter
and spring seasons. We have used the bird scare tape with great success and have also employed geese as guards in the pastures.
It would be impossible to use aviary netting over a large pasture situation, but if pasture is not a consideration, then aviary
netting is your only sure way of deterring a hawk attack in a small area. Just be sure your ducks are not flighted, you use
the smallest opening mesh, it is positioned high over the duck yard (at least six feet) and very secure to a grid structure.
Otherwise ducks can get their heads caught in the netting or a hawk can actually push the stretchy netting to the ducks head
level during an attack. If properly installed, aviary netting is safe and very effective.