Oh my goodness. Hawks and chickens… Learning how to keep hawks away from chickens takes practice.
The best thing for you will be to learn how hawks typically behave and when they are likely to come after your chickens.
But I am going, to be honest. If you have free-range chickens on a piece of land without chicken wire or some kind of covering over the top. You run the risk of having a chicken hawk come and get them. It’s just that simple.
Chickens are a great source of food for the family, but they are easy targets for aerial predators as well as other natural enemies like coons.
One thing I want to say before I get into these tips.
You have EVERY RIGHT to protect your livestock. Let me say that again for the people in the back.
You have every right to protect your animals.
Yes, it may be the circle of life thing but they are your responsibility and you wouldn’t let a stranger come into your home uninvited. Same with the hawks or any other wild animal that plans to do harm to your flock.
How To Spot A Hawk
You will see a hungry hawk mostly in rural areas. They are not so much an issue for backyard chickens in town. Often sitting on telephone wires or fence polls watching for food. Sometimes they will eat small birds but mostly they are watching for mice or other small animals.
If you are watching over your free-range chickens keep an eye on the outer edges where a hawk could be watching from while still staying hidden.
Cover Your Chicken Run To Keep Hawks Away From Chickens
A chicken run is a fenced-in area that connects to the chicken coop. You can open the chicken coop door and the chickens will not be running free around the yard. This is the best way to keep them contained and safe from a hawk attack.
IF you have a covered run.
If you do have nothing at all then a board or temporary covering will do for now. Chickens naturally run for cover when they feel threatened. Tall trees are another great option to help protect your flock from predatory birds.
Hawks like to fly into an open area and leave quickly. Brush and cover is not their favorite place to hunt for food.
If you add a covering over the chicken yard make sure there are no gaps between the covering and the fence walls. A determined animal will find a way through.
If the chickens have access to the coop there is no need to add a solid roof on the coop run unless you plan to close them out of the coop during the day.
Chickens don’t like to be wet and they will find their way back in when the rain comes.
Add Some Reflective Materials To The Chicken Area
Shiny things are supposed to keep hawks away. Personally, I have not tried these ideas so stick with me. I tend to go with ideas I am sure will work. Like keeping them covered and using more permanent methods of getting rid of the hawks. So there’s that.
Here are some shiny objects you can put up that will help.
- Old CDs
- Reflective tape
- Fishing line
- Old mettle pie pans
- Disposable baking pans.
The idea behind this is that hawks and owls do not hang out in the same territory. While one hunts at night and the other by day they simply don’t get along. So having an owl decoy will any species of hawk think twice.
Add a Rooster to Your Flock
The rooster naturally watches out for the flock. That is their job. They seem to be far better at sporting flying things than the hens do. If they spot something they will make a special warning noise to tell the hens.
Roosters have been known to scare off predators however this is a catch twenty-two. If the rooster is going to protect the flock he typically has to be a bit more energetic. BUT that leaves you with a rooster that is likely to challenge you and your family. Which is not cool either.
They do make great guard animals against a bird of prey but make sure you are careful about the rooster you bring into your flock so you don’t have one that makes you afraid to go into your own back hard.
Provide Some Cover
If you’ve got some trees nearby, use them to create a barrier between your chickens and any potential predator. Trees offer protection against windy conditions and help keep out rainwater, making them ideal shelter for your birds. You could also install bird netting along fence lines to prevent hawks from accessing your property.
Cover Up Feeders
You chickens are more vulnerable while they are eating. Their heads are down and they are not paying attention to what is above them. Make sure to cover your bird feeders and water bowls. Or at the very least have them under a tree so the chickens are protected.
Hawks are extremely smart and will watch the feeders and wait for the perfect time to strike. At feeding time there are often multiple birds there at one time leaving multiple targets.
If you covered your chicken’s run area putting their feed in the covered run would be the best idea.
Get A Gaurd Dog
Please be careful with this one. Do not get a breed with any herding instinct.
This will leave chicken owners very disappointed when the dog scares the bird. Or even tips at the bird ultimately killing it. This is what herding dogs are wired to do. Next to you, they are the boss. They are like the COO of the flock.
A large, well-trained guard dog watching over your flock is a great hawk deterrent. A guard dog’s role is the same as a rooster, but with enhanced capabilities. Dogs are larger and stronger than roosters and aren’t easily threatened by hawks. Great Pyrenees have been used as livestock guardians for hundreds of years due to their natural guarding instinct. However, many other dog breeds make excellent deterrents, becoming hostile when they sense danger. Sometimes, just having a dog in the area is enough to discourage hawks that prefer easy prey.
I also met a local chicken raiser here in our area and he had a goat in with his birds. Since the hawk didn’t know if it was a dog or not so he never had any trouble.
Another was going after some baby chicks our duck hatched out. Man, was that duck brave. She was not going to let that hawk have her babies.
All total we have had a run-in with four hawks. The first one was extremely bold. I look out our bedroom window to see the hawk sitting on our four-foot chainlink fence watching the flock.
The most recent one I was walking back from getting the mail and I noticed a bird with its tail going down to the ground ( not up like a chicken) out of the corner of my eye. I quickly realized it was a hawk. I ran inside to get what I needed to deal with it buck quickly realized it was a young and inexperienced bird.
The way it came after the birds was so obvious and it tried multiple times to get a chicken and failed every time.
Unfortunately losing chickens to larger birds of prey is part of being a poultry owner. Unless you never let the chickens free-range and you coop them up in electric fences all the time.
All you can only do what you can and hope for the best.