Crows and Chickens

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Did you know that our local black crows protect our chicken flock as they free range the farm during the daylight hours?  

These crows are watchful for predators, in particular hawks and foxes, and will either drive them away or warn the flock with their cawing noises so that the chickens seek shelter.  I have witnessed them track a fox as it skulked through the brush approaching the chicken house and surround a hawk in a tree and taunt it until it flew away, then giving a noisy chase.  I have learned to pay attention to their cawing cries myself and leave the creamery or house to see what they have spotted.  They have warned me many times in time to save my flock from a daytime attack by a fox. The older flock members teach the younger chickens to pay attention to the crows as well and the rooster is always on alert for signals from the crows.

Our crows have never harmed any of our chickens.  They will share the scrap bucket with the chickens.  They have left our chicks alone and never gone into the chicken house after eggs.  However, I have seen them pick up ducks eggs and eat them since the silly ducks drop their eggs anywhere.

Crows are among the most intelligent animals, and can even make and use tools. They can also recognize individual people by their faces. 

If they attack your flock at all, it will probably be an attack of opportunity on chicks, very small bantams or very young birds. And as I mentioned, they may also be sneaky and try to steal eggs. They are very unlikely to attack adult chickens. If you see a large bird carrying off a chick from afar, you will probably be able to tell whether it is a bird of prey of some sort (such as a hawk or owl) or a crow, because a hawk will carry prey off with its feet, while a crow will carry prey off in its beak . Crows are not raptors and will simply not attack the way birds of prey will. In fact, the word “raptor” comes from a Latin word which means “to seize,” and it refers to the raptors’ proclivity for seizing prey with their strong feet and talons.

The truth is that crows are fairly unlikely predators–even for your young birds or eggs.  Crows are opportunists, if not hunters, and if they see an easy meal, they may take it. As I have seen, they may spot and eat eggs laid in the yard rather than in the coop, and in cases where eggs aren’t gathered frequently enough, may even learn to sneak into your coop to steal food or eggs from nests. 

Here are some examples to watch, if you are curious of crows harassing hawks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQz0xPLAQQc#t=18

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtsYOFTptoE 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ-Dt-KUJnc

If there are crows around your house or coop it is good news for your flock.

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