Lemon the Duck

Hawks
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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.


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