Chicken owners that live in areas inhabited by hawks and other birds of prey are likely to ask themselves the question ‘how to keep hawks away from chickens’. We have spent hours researching the 10 best and most effective methods to prevent hawk attacks. As we live in a hawk inhabited area ourselves, many of these methods we have implemented successfully.
A hungry hawk with watch your chickens from a vantage point – such as a tree, wait for the right moment and then swoop down to strike. It will use its sharp talons to kill on impact or snatch a chicken and carry it away during flight.
When a hawk learns that it can take a chicken for a meal, it will keep coming back until deterred.
Hawks are protected by federal laws. Therefore poultry owners aren’t allowed to physically harm these birds. Deploying deterrence tactics is the key to success for preserving your chickens from hawk attacks.
Help prevent birds of prey attacking your chickens with this list of 10 effective tips below.
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How to Keep Hawks Away from Chickens
1. Add a Rooster for Hen Protection
Adding a rooster to your flock will help fend of a hawk attack. Roosters have a inherent instinct to protect their hens. Roosters are fierce protectors and will charge at a hawk without any fear if their girls are threatened. A rooster will make a high pitched call at the first sign of danger, alerting the hens to run to safe cover. The rooster will continue to call out loud warnings and attract attention. This is likely to deter a covert attack from the hawk and cause it to move onto an easier target.
2. Get a Watch Dog
Having a medium to large sized, well-trained watch dog to protect your flock is a great asset. Dogs are more of a threat to hawks than roosters, so a hawk is more likely to to avoid coming near your flock with a watch dog present. Any well trained dog breed of a suitable size is able to act as a watch dog for your flock. We have a golden retriever to provide company to our own flock and despite living in an area with hawks, we have not had any attacks to date.
3. Increase Visibility
Hawks tend to perch on nearby trees in which they can covertly watch their prey i.e – your chickens! When they find the right opportunity they will swoop down and grab them with their tallons. Having tall trees, bushy shrubs and long grass near your chicken coop or run can make it difficult to detect birds of prey like hawks stalking nearby.
Trimming bushes and cutting tall grass will limit a hawks ability to hide themselves nearby. Also locating a coop or run away from tall trees or other places where hawks can stalk undetected is wise as a risk mitigation strategy. A hawk relies on the element of surprise and is much less likely to stage an attack when they think they are being watched.
Its a good idea to have a safe shelter for your chickens, so ensure there is at least one covered place they can run under if they need to take cover from a threat.
4. Get a Black Chicken
Getting a black chicken to add to your flock is – believe it or not – a natural hawk deterrent. Black chickens do not attack hawks but the black coloration may deter hawks from an attack. This is due to their relationship with crows, who are also black. Crows tend to harass and attack hawks as standard offensive practice, so adding a black chicken to the roost mistakes the hawk into thinking the chicken is a crow. This naturally deters the hawk from targeting the chickens as they do not want to become a target of the crows pestering behavior. We have our own Black Australorp chicken included in our flock as a mitigation measure for hawks flying in our area.
5. Keep them in their Coop
A free ranging chicken out in the open makes an easy target for a hawk attack. Free-ranging is a wonderful and healthy activity for chickens but consider keeping them in their coop if they are left unattended without a watch dog, rooster or black chicken present as a deterrent from a hawk attack. A movable chicken tractor is a great idea to keep them safe, but still allows them to forage over fresh and interesting ground cover.
6. Ensure their Run is Covered
Keeping your chickens within a covered chicken run is a fantastic safe shelter from hawks. Use chicken wire or strong shade cloth as an effective barrier against birds of prey. A hawk may not detect the cover on the run and try to swoop through the wire or cloth unsuccessfully. Using brightly colored wire or netting over the top of the coop or run that hawks can easily see will discourage them from even trying to swoop. Orange is known to be a great color to choose for deterring hawks as it can be easily seen with their eyesight.
7. Put Feeders Undercover
Hawks have been known to target chickens while they are feeding, due to the chickens being especially vulnerable when they’re eating with their heads down. They are also usually bunched together in a group which provides for multiple easy targets in one spot. Hawks are intelligent and know that feeding time is a prime time to strike their prey. Put your chickens food under a covered area, such as within their coop or run. This way chickens can eat or drink without added vulnerability.
8. Employ Decoys
Decoys such as scarecrows and owl or hawk statues and often make good deterrents when positioned near your coop or run. Statues such as scarecrows which look like people or a owl or hawk statue, will keep hawks nervous about approaching your flock. Owls and other hawks are competition for other hawks so this will encourage them to keep moving on. Hawks are smart and will eventually realize that these decoys are fake, so you must re-position them regularly into different locations to keep up their effectiveness.
9. Add Noise Making Objects
Noise is a natural deterrent for hawks so using noise generating objects such as wind chimes, can discourage hawk presence. Combine a noisy object with an object like old CDs, that emits bright flashes of reflective sunlight for an even greater effect.
10. Install Reflective Objects
Flashing deterrents are some of the easiest, most cost-effective solutions to rid yourself of hawks. Using old CDs or DVDs you don’t want anymore and hanging these sunlight reflective objects in trees or structures will deter hawks from approaching. We have some old CDS hung around the outside of our own chickens coop. You can even buy specially designed reflective tape to hang which will emit even stronger flashes of light. Combine these with noisy objects such as wind chimes for an even more effective solution.
Hopefully by now you feel empowered to implement a few of the easy strategies listed above to deter hawks from snatching your chickens. So go ahead and try one, two or all of the suggestions above and reduce the risk of your chickens being lost to birds of prey such as hawks.