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Re: Goshawk taking Spruce Grouse?

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  • victoria_homer_alaska
    Re: Could the big gray bird taking off a Spruce Grouse have been a Northern Goshawk? A long tale, but I think I have your answer... Last winter my chickens
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2010
      Re: Could the "big gray bird" taking off a Spruce Grouse have been a Northern Goshawk?

      A long tale, but I think I have your answer...

      Last winter my chickens received a number of visits from a Northern Goshawk. My Barred Rocks seemed to be targeted far more frequently than the darker breeds, which stand out more against the snow, which leads me to wonder if the Goshawk is more attuned to the plumage similarities...

      One morning, having been alerted by the alarm calls of the chickens, I ran out to see the hawk leaving the pen, but was relieved to find no dead chicken. Later on however, taking them some scraps, one of my last two remaining Barred Rocks staggered/flopped into sight with the feathers, skin and flesh of her back completely ripped away - I must have interrupted the attack earlier and she'd managed to get away.

      I rushed her to the house, set her in a box by the woodstove and doused her with Betadine. She could not stand and, even if she survived the horrific wounding, she would surely be unable to rejoin the flock, but rescue her I must try...

      After a week, a shiny crust had formed on her back, and after 10 or so days she jumped out of her box and began to wobble around. By now she was "House Chicken", and thenceforth considered herself part of the family, even hopping onto the couch next to us as if it were her roost.

      As she began walking normally I returned her to the coop, but I would go out around roosting time to put her up on the perches with the other birds. I was thrilled at my success.

      Five days later, on a gloomy snowy day, there was that uneasy, foreboding silence over at the pen. I ran over and there was the Goshawk. With my precious beloved House Chicken. The hawk had returned and had finished what it started.
      I was devastated - had I put her back out too soon...?
      At the same time, how could I begrudge this splendid Goshawk its hard-fought meal?

      I took the carcass away form the coop area, in full view of the hawk who was watching my every move from a distance, but then thought to run and grab a camera (See photos under my name)
      I placed my benign, ill-fated little hen in the snow and watched as the eager hawk, undaunted by my proximity, returned straight to the carcass.

      The Goshawk struggled, but in short low bursts it managed to take its prize over the log pile out of my sight.

      A Barred Rock weighs no less than 6 pounds.
      A Goshawk weighs in at about 2 pounds.
      A Spruce Grouse? 1 pound.

      Victoria Wilson Winne,
      Homer.
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