How to Protect Your Chickens From Hawks

Hawk inside the chicken coop

The sight of hawks killing chickens is a heart-stopping scenario for any poultry owner. This pressing concern has led to various strategies aimed at protecting these vulnerable birds from becoming prey.

But why do hawks target your chickens? Further, what exactly can you do to prevent these attacks? Are there simple, practical steps you can take right now to safeguard your flock?

Get ready, as we will thoroughly discuss the most effective hawk deterrents for chickens. We will also share proven tips and tricks to create an overall safer environment for your poultry. Let’s get started!

How to Keep Hawks Away From Your Chickens

Small chicken coop with fence to keep hawks away

1. Install Overhead Netting

Installing overhead netting is the most popular method of protecting chickens from hawks. It acts as a physical barrier, preventing these large birds from diving down to snatch their prey.

After a couple of close calls with hawks, I decided to use bird netting to keep my flock safe. My outdoor run, measuring about 35x40x6 feet, is now enclosed with three feet of hardware cloth for extra protection.

Thanks to the 50×50-foot netting I chose, my chickens haven’t had any hawk encounters since.

In order to support the net, however, I specifically installed coated clothesline cables between support poles. I even built a central tower for the chickens to roost on, which also helps keep the net from sagging.

You can also check out this video for additional tips on building a coop with bird netting:

Setting Up A New Chicken Coop With Bird Netting // Making It Homestead

2. Use Hawk Decoys

Placing hawk decoys, like fake owls, in your coop is a proven method for deterring hawks from chickens. These baits imitate the presence of a larger predator, causing hawks to reconsider swooping into your yard.

Note, though, that adding variety can enhance your defense strategy. In addition to a fake owl, deploying decoys of fake eagles or crows introduces a broader threat range to potential predators.

So, by creating a perceived danger zone for hawks, you significantly reduce the likelihood of attacks on your flock. This ensures their safety with minimal effort and disruption.

However, keep in mind that it is crucial to move your decoys regularly. Just like a scarecrow keeps birds away from crops, a mobile decoy keeps predators wary.

Fun Fact: Did you know that even hawks have to watch out for their own kind? In particular, large hawks sometimes hunt smaller ones. Hence, consider using a decoy hawk to protect your chickens from real hawks.

3. Create Covered Areas

Constructing covered areas is a crucial strategy to prevent hawks from attacking chickens. For one thing, dense tree canopies offer chickens a place to hide and evade predators.

In addition to natural cover, creating structures like pergolas, gazebos, or arbors provides added safety.

These features not only enhance the aesthetics of your space but also serve as effective barriers against hawks looking for their next meal.

On the whole, these natural or constructed hideaways can significantly reduce the risk of hawk kills. Chickens instinctively seek cover when threatened, making these areas essential for their safety.

4. Employ Reflective Surfaces

Hanging shiny objects around your chicken coop can deter hawks. Basically, the reflection from these surfaces disorients and scares away potential predators.

In order to keep pesky hawks away from my friend’s coop, I suggested that she should try using reflective surfaces.

So, she hung up old CDs and strips of aluminum foil around her area. The sunlight reflecting off these items created a dazzling effect.

Surprisingly, the hawk visits became less frequent almost immediately. The reflections seemed to confuse and deter the predators from diving down. It was an easy and inexpensive solution that had a significant impact.

Over time, I advised adding reflective tape to trees and fence posts for extra coverage.

5. Introduce Guard Animals

Adding guard animals to your coop can really boost your chickens’ safety from hawks. They are trained to blend with the flock, alerting you with loud noises when predators are near.

In many cases, these animals can even fend off attackers by confronting them directly. 

Dogs, especially livestock breeds like the Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Old English Sheepdog, Kuvasz, and Komondor, are among the most popular choices for guarding poultry.

Their presence alone can discourage hawks, cats, possums, and other predators from considering your chickens as prey.

If you are looking for other alternatives, note that there are more options than just dogs. For instance, alpacas, goats, and llamas make excellent lookouts. Their size and presence can definitely intimidate hawks.

Watch this awesome video of a goat saving its chicken pal from a hawk:

Farm Animals Protect Chicken Friend from Hawk Attack || Dogtooth Media

Donkeys and geese are also effective at protecting chickens. In particular, donkeys will not hesitate to chase away threats. On the other hand, geese sound the alarm with their loud honks to warn you of any trouble.

Lastly, guinea fowls are an unconventional but effective option. Their piercing calls can scare away hawks, and they often roam in groups, providing a collective defense against aerial attacks.

6. Plant Shrubs and Bushes

Planting shrubs and bushes around your enclosure offers your flock cover from hawk eyes. Primarily, these green hideouts make it tricky for predators to spot and swoop down on your chickens.

Not only do these plants provide protection, but they also bring additional benefits. They create shade, which reduces heat stress on your poultry during hot days. Further, they add visual interest to your landscape.

Plus, many of these plants can produce edible treats for both you and your chickens.

To be specific, think about planting shrubs and bushes such as blackberry, rosemary, lavender, raspberry, dewberry, and calendula.

Interestingly, you should also consider hedgerows alongside these green barriers. A 2021 study proved that putting hedgerows in chicken pastures can boost growth and lower the chance of infections in your flock.

7. Implement Roaming Schedules

Enforcing roaming schedules can significantly reduce your chickens’ exposure to hawks. By limiting their free-ranging times, you minimize the risk of predation during peak hunting hours.

After noticing a pattern of hawk sightings around midday, I adjusted our chickens’ free-range schedule to early morning and late afternoon. This change aimed to avoid the times hawks were most active.

The new schedule allowed our chickens to still enjoy the benefits of roaming, such as exercise and access to natural forage, while greatly reducing the risk of hawk attacks.

Additionally, this schedule made it easier to manage the flock since their outdoor time was predictable. While not a foolproof method, it did contribute to a sense of safety for the flock and a bit of relief for us.

8. Set up Noise Makers

Setting up automated noise devices around your chicken coop can effectively startle and deter hawks. The unexpected sounds disrupt their focus, which in turn makes your chickens less appealing prey.

Pro Tip: As another layer of defense, you can place a radio near the coop, set to play talk shows during the day. Interestingly, the mix of human voices can help keep hawks away without upsetting your chickens.

9. Secure Chicken Feed

Securing chicken feed is crucial in preventing unwelcome visits from hawks.

By storing feed in sealed containers, you reduce the chance of attracting small rodents, which are prey for hawks. This simple step can make your chicken coop less attractive to these predators.

Specifically, rodents drawn to scattered or improperly stored feed can create a food chain that leads directly to your chickens.

Hawks, always on the lookout for an easy meal, may follow these rodents and discover your flock.

So, remember that keeping feed secure disrupts this chain, which reduces the likelihood of hawk encounters.

10. Maintain a Cluttered Landscape

Maintaining a cluttered landscape in your yard can discourage hawks from hunting. After all, they like empty spaces where they can easily spot and pounce down on their prey.

After a few of my chickens fell prey to hawks, I once decided to tweak my yard’s design. I stopped trimming the grass short and introduced some bushes and trees near the coop. The idea was to break up the open space.

This adjustment seemed to have a slight effect. The chickens wandered with a bit more ease, and hawk sightings decreased somewhat. It appeared that the complexity of the pen made it less appealing for them to hunt.

Though not a total solution, this approach mildly lessened the frequency of hawk visits and added a touch of wilderness to my yard. The chickens benefitted from the extra cover, and I enjoyed the more natural, wild look.

11. Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Motion-activated sprinklers offer a humane, non-lethal method to keep hawks away from your chickens. In particular, these devices detect movement and release a burst of water.

This unexpectedly prevents potential predators, which prompts them to seek food elsewhere.

Cost-wise, these sprinklers are available at various price points. However, they typically range from $20 to $100.

The investment depends on the features you desire, such as range, sensitivity, and water distribution pattern.

Pro Tip: Ensure your sprinklers are always in good working order. Check them regularly for any signs of wear and tear or blockages that could prevent them from activating correctly.

12. Install Fluttering Deterrents

Setting up fluttering objects around your chicken coop can prevent hawks. Flags, streamers, and banners can create surprising movements that make these larger birds hesitant to approach.

Favoring a calm place to hunt, hawks are likely to avoid areas where these deterrents are active. This method leverages the hawk’s natural caution against them, providing a safe space for your chickens.

For best results, though, vary the types and placements of fluttering deterrents regularly to maintain their effectiveness. Doing so ensures that hawks do not become accustomed to them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chickens on a chicken farm

What Are Hawks Afraid Of?

Though intimidating in the sky, hawks are not at the top of the food chain; they actively avoid creatures that pose a threat to them. Their list of fears includes owls and eagles, which are capable of overpowering them.

With their knack for mobbing, crows also pose a significant threat, deterring hawks from their territories.

In addition, terrestrial animals like raccoons and snakes are a danger to hawks, especially to their eggs and young. These predators can climb trees and raid nests, which makes them a constant worry for these avians.

Will a Fake Owl Keep Hawks Away From Chickens?

Using a fake owl can indeed help keep hawks away from your chickens. As effective decoys, they mimic the presence of a predator, making hawks think twice before approaching.

However, it is best to move the fake owl around regularly, similar to how you would use a scarecrow in a garden. This movement helps maintain the illusion of a real threat.

For added effectiveness, consider using fake eagles or crows alongside your owl. This can amp up the scare tactics and make your chicken coop a less appealing target for hawks.

Can I Kill a Hawk That Is Attacking My Chickens?

It is illegal to harm or kill hawks, even if they are attacking your chickens. Despite the frustration and loss they may cause, note that these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Understanding that hawks cannot be legally harmed emphasizes the importance of finding humane ways to protect your flock. Basically, it is crucial to focus on prevention and deterrence rather than confrontation.

This includes using decoys, securing chicken runs with protective coverings, and employing other non-lethal means to keep these predators at bay while respecting wildlife laws.

How Do You Know If a Hawk Killed Your Chickens?

If you find a chicken with its breast eaten and feathers cleanly plucked around the area, it is likely the work of a hawk. Hawks tend to eat their prey on the spot, focusing on the breast for its meaty portion.

Another telltale sign of a hawk attack is when the chicken’s bones are intact, with a lot of stringy flesh still attached to them. This precise and minimal damage differentiates hawk invasion from other predators.

However, if you discover feathers with flesh on their ends, it may not necessarily mean a hawk killed the chicken. This can indicate that the bird scavenged on your chicken that had already died from another cause.

Now that you know how to deter hawks, we are curious about your experiences and ideas. Do you have any thoughts, tips, or questions on protecting your chickens? Feel free to drop them in the comment section!

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