Bill Astell passed along several interesting raptor anecdotes today. “Cooper’s Hawks are common in my backyard. I have about 30 acres just north of the zoo and it is well populated with wildlife. I have chickens and one year I found a freshly killed one near the coop so I set a catch alive trap expecting to snag a raccoon. I was surprised to find a Cooper’s Hawk in the trap. I took him up to Apsley to be released. I know relocating isn’t really the best thing to do but I didn’t know how to try to solve the problem without killing the hawk which I would never do. I suppose he was back in my yard the next day but now I just expect to lose the odd chicken. I have also changed my breed of chicken to a much larger variety that aren’t easy for hawks to take.”

“We have Red-tailed Hawks and many other varieties that spin around but the Cooper’s is the most fond of chickens. The red-tails show no interest in chickens. They seem most interested in rodents out in the field beside our home. One year I had a juvenile Northern Goshawk go in the hen house after some half grown chicks. I sent him off to a raptor rescue group in the Kingston area. He was a very big and beautiful bird. I had him for a couple of days before the rescue folks picked him up. He became calm and even rather tame considering he was wild caught.”

“The weirdest bird encounter I’ve had was one night the chickens were squawking so I went out to check it out. My Jack Russelle terrier, who was usually quite fearless and loves a good raccoon chase, seemed spooked. A chicken flew over my head and seconds later my hat pulled right off my head. It was from the updraft as a Great Horned Owl that had swooped over me after the hen! That hen got lucky and got away. Sadly, I hear a few chickens every year squawking in the distance as they disappear into the night. I’ve even had Snowy Owls take my chickens.”

“This past spring I rescued a baby American Crow that was the sole survivor after a Cooper’s Hawk found the crows’ nest behind our home. That seems to happen quite frequently. We’ve seen the leftovers on other occasions. We raised the crow and after 6 months she has now hooked up with a friend and has fully integrated back into the local crow family. That was a real education on the intelligence of crows. Everything we did she would try including trying to start my tractor. When she couldn’t start it she stole the key. Apparently re-integration is not usually successful for many reasons. We were so happy that she had re-integrated as she had become a real character and part of the family but captivity or caging was never an option.”

Location: Baltic Drive
Observer: Bill Astell

Categories: Sightings

Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.