Eagles Hawks Crows – friends or foe?

Are these birds friends or foes?

Eagles and hawks moved on by crows is something I’ve watched many times.

On my property I currently have 26 domestic birds.  This could very well rise within the next week as I have a broody duck sitting on 5 eggs, and a couple more who began their sitting later on.  I don’t know how many to expect because as you know you can’t ‘count your chickens before they hatch!’  It’s very true as you have no idea how many of them will actually hatch, or how many will not make it.

Anyway,  during the day I allow all my birds to free-range.  They love it and are always waiting anxiously for me to arrive in the morning to let them out.

At present, my count is:

  • Chickens – 10 which includes one rooster
  • Ducks – 10 which includes 2 drakes (Eggs with sitting ducks equals 11 between the three of them)  I removed lots of eggs as there were far too many altogether.
  • Guinea Fowl – 6 which includes 3 male and 3 female (A couple of days ago I had 8 but one new pair decided to go AWOL.  I’m waiting to see if they come back.)

Alarm Systems in place:

  • The Guinea Fowls are great alarm systems, making en enormous ruckus when they spot either a hawk or an eagle hanging around.
  • The drakes watch the sky continuously looking out for trouble, but their voices are not so strong.
  • The rooster is also a good alarm system, alerting all the flocks to beware.

When free-ranging your birds, it’s very important to have alarm systems to warn of predators from the sky… or any predators for that matter.  

Our main potential predator threat from the sky come from eagles and hawks

Eagles and Hawks moved on by Crows

Eagles soaring overhead

Tasmanian Wedge-Tail Eagle
Wedge-Tail Eagle (Photo by J.J. Harrison)

Here in Tasmania we have the Wedge-Tailed Eagle. It is listed as endangered under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. It’s also included in the Federal list as an endangered subspecies.   

According to the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife service  ‘The Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle is brownish-black to almost black when mature. The feathers are edged with a lighter brown. The legs are feathered and the bird has a long, wedge-shaped tail. It is a massive bird, standing over a metre tall, weighing up to 5 kg, and with a wing span of up to 2.2 m.’

Imagine encountering an eagle this way…

 

Wonderful birds to watch, but scary if you have flocks of birds you are caring for.

 

The Crazy Woman!

In the five years we have been on this property, I’ve only ever seen a couple of eagles taking an interest in my birds wandering about the place.  It’s only a couple of weeks ago when I spotted one circling above… it was fairly low too.  The Guinea Fowls were chortling just as hard as they could, but I decided to join in the fight together with them.  I started waving my arms about over my head and yelling at it to go.  It was interesting as it circled another couple of times and then decided to leave the place where the crazy lady lived!

That eagle was circling all by itself without any challenges until it encountered my Guinea Fowl… and me!  The other time I saw an eagle, the crows had alerted me to the fact it was there.  The crows hassle the eagles and hawks and drive them away!  It’s because of this I have declared that these black scavenger birds are our friends.  They appear to be working on our behalf… which I quite like.

I did lose a chicken to an eagle, but not while it was in my care.  After trouble with between my rooster and her, I had given her to a friend.  He pecked her very viciously and it was obvious he wanted her dead.  I nursed her back and then found another home for her.

The unfortunate story is that she was only there for a very short time before the eagles came and took her for dinner.  I was devastated at the news.  I know the eagles have to eat, but why my Katie?

 

Hawks / Falcons

We’ve seen far more hawks circling above than eagles.  I’m uncertain if they are actual hawks or whether they’re falcons.  I remember when the young girl next door told me that we wouldn’t have our chickens for long because the falcons would take them. 

Fortunately, to this point in time, five years later, we haven’t lost any to them to these predators.  As the property has a lot of blackwood trees, together with a number of Photinia hedges, this provides a lot of protection for my birds from the predators above.

Eagles and Hawks moved on by Crows
Blackwood Trees on Property

Nearly every time I’ve ever seen these hawks or falcons, I’ve been alerted to the fact that they were there by the Guinea Fowl.  They are extremely brave little creatures as they come out against predators to endeavour to ward them off.  Running for cover is only an option if they feel they are in immediate danger.

 

Tasmanian White Goshawk

There have been times, very special times I feel, that I’ve looked up and seen a white hawk circling.  I can’t tell you how wonderful they look against a bright blue sky.  Apparently it is the only true white hawk in the world.

Unfortunately I’ve not been able to capture it on camera but I found this little video of one:

I’m pleased it has chosen to move on rather than choose one of my birds for a meal.

 

Ravens / Crows – let’s drive them off!

A second alarm that let’s me know of their presence is the sound of the ravens themselves…  more commonly known as crows… although I do believe there is some kind of difference between them.  I have read that ravens tend to be loners while crows like to flock in groups.  I can say, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of these birds on its own.  They are much more likely to be in a small, or large flock.

Anyway, I’ll leave that debate to someone else, meanwhile I’ll just call them crows!

If, while I’m working away, it finally sinks into my conscience that there are a lot of crows calling out, when I investigate, it usually means they are attacking a hawk/falcon.

I’ve seen them take it in turns to dive-bomb into the hawks and finally drive them off far into the distance.  I found this little video… it’s exactly what I see:

I like to think that the crows are protecting my little flocks, and I’m always so thankful to them.  Of-course, they are much more likely to be driving the predators away from their own young.

Whatever the reason they don’t accept them being around, they are very good in shooing them away.

So the crows/ravens, have become my friends!

 

I found this amusing video online… it’s really well done:

Wombat on his last journey

Some would say that they are disgusting birds!  They eat the carrion off the roads!

Tasmania is renowned for being the ‘road-kill capital of Australia’.

How terrible is that!

Living in the country as we do, we see an enormous amount of road-kill, and I always find it upsetting to see.

An hour ago, while I was in the middle of writing this, my husband rang me to say that outside our place, on the side of the road, is an enormous wombat… killed of-course.

Wombat made his last journey
Wombat killed lying beside the road

He was such a lovely big boy. Deary me, they are one of my favourite animals. 

On looking around, I could see two places in the fence across the road, that the wombat have obviously been tracking through each day or night.  The tracks were quite clear.

I’m afraid he’s been through the fence for the final time. 🙁

If he’s left there, and I pray not, the crows will eventually come and enjoy their meal… or many meals to come.

Is this bad?

I don’t believe so.

They have to eat and they certainly do a great job in helping to clean up all the road-kill.  I hate to think what it would be like if they didn’t do what they have been designed to do.

 

Eagles, Hawks, Crows – friends or foe?

The Tasmanian Eagle is a protected species and indeed, so it should be!  I just don’t want it making its dinner on my birds.  So as long as it stays away from my lot, I’m happy for it to be circling the skies.  I would have to regard them as a potential foe.

I feel pretty much the same about the hawks… you keep away from us and we’ll keep away from you. Yep, another potential foe.

Crows, although not always loved, are a very intelligent bird and are capable of solving many puzzles.  Not what I would call my favourite bird, but none the less, have proven to be a very helpful resource around the property.  Cheeky things will steal an egg or two when they think they can get away with it… especially those left lying in the bushes.  Amazingly so, I’d have to say… they have proven to be friends!

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