Goshawk vs. Roosters

Six years ago today, an immature Northern Goshawk found his way into our rooster house on our farm. I had just turned 10, and my brothers were 8-1/2 and 7 years old. We were feeding the chickens, and my mother went to feed the eight roosters in their separate pen (so they wouldn’t bother the hens too much).

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She noticed that all of the roosters were outside in the pen, which was unusual because the four at the top of the pecking order always strutted around outdoors, while the four at the bottom of the pecking order rarely left the roosts inside their little coop, to avoid the bullies outside. But they were all outdoors that morning.

My mother looked inside the little house, only to see a hunched figure on the roosts — and when she realized it was a hawk, she quickly slammed the door closed. We went back to the house and she phoned the Fish & Wildlife office in town. They sent an officer almost immediately to take a look. The officer headed toward the coop with a net and leather gloves, and quickly and easily caught the hawk.

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The officer told us it was a young Ferruginous Hawk, and since I wasn’t a “bird nerd” as I am now, I didn’t question the identification, but looking at the photos now it’s obviously an immature Northern Goshawk. As many people know, goshawks are able to maneuver through very small spaces, and our interloper probably flew between the squares of the page wire over the chicken pen but then wasn’t able to get out. To the Goshawk, at first the roosters probably looked like a pretty good meal, but upon arriving in the pen it was one inexperienced goshawk verses eight hefty roosters.

The officer was very nice and let us each hold the hawk, and after a quick lesson I got to release it. It flew off to some trees nearby, where it stayed for quite some time before taking off for good.

A very good and fun memory!

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3 thoughts on “Goshawk vs. Roosters

  1. Pretty good story, Charlotte. We don’t get many Northern Goshawks in east Tennessee, but I’ve rescued a few Cooper’s Hawks which hang out inside some of our local industrial buildings hunting pigeons…which aren’t so lucky as the roosters were…haha

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