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Hello Frances,

This sounds like a Northern Goshawk, in times past referred to as a 
"Chicken-hawk.  They are forest species whose prey are a wide variety of 
birds and small mammals.  Known to fly right into chicken houses, they 
can indeed cause quite a stir when they do so.

We live on the slopes of Snake Mountain in Cornwall/Bridport with mixed 
forest around us and our small pasture, and more open fields nearby.  
Over the decades one or more Goshawks have been local residents and seen 
with some regularity.

One day a few years ago there was a huge ruckus out by our small barn 
that houses sheep, chickens, and geese.  The dogs were barking like mad 
and the chickens were all screaming.  By the time I got out there, a 
Goshawk was sitting on the pasture gate at the door to the barn, with 
one dog at its feet barking as loudly as it could.  A window was broken 
out of the barn, and chickens were running everywhere.

I asked the hawk what it was up to, but it just looked at me as I walked 
right up to it, eyeball to eyeball.  I continued to talk to it, but it 
got bored and after few minutes it few gently over to a nearby big rock 
in the pasture (they can fly very fast when they want to .. but not this 
time) and sat there for the next 10 minutes while I sorted things out.

All the chickens were accounted for, although a pillow's worth of 
feathers were strewn everywhere.

Oh, and the broken window?  When the Goshawk flew into the barn ..... 
the chicken flew out through the window taking the glassy shards with it.

We see Goshawks from time to time at home in the trees watching the 
chickens running around or the birds at the feeders, but I've yet to see 
one actually take a bird from around the house.

Ian
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On 11/6/2014 1:54 PM, Frances Delwiche wrote:
> Last week, I received an email from a friend asking about a strange bird encounter she recently had. She lives in rural Georgia/Milton, on a dairy farm where she raises a small flock of chickens. At about 5 pm on the last weekend of October, the chickens were out in the yard when she suddenly heard a huge ruckus among the flock. She ran over and saw a huge bird flying low trying to grab the chickens.  It was light grey with white spots and large (probably 5ft?) wingspan.  She thought it was a hawk, but another observer said it may have been an owl.  She ran around screaming and chasing it away, but it kept coming back until she finally ran right up to it (probably about 10ft away); it was coming straight at her, head on, till finally it veered off and flew off toward the pasture. Her question is what could it have been, and will it continue to haunt her flock? It was seemingly prepared to carry off a full sized chicken.
>
> Any suggestions?