Hawks and Eagles are predatory birds with highly effective attacking skills. With superior vision, incredible speed, and agility, not to mention their sharp, razor-like claws, they are one of the best aerial predators. If you are a chicken keeper, it is important to understand ways to Protect chickens from Hawk and Eagle Attacks.
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Although most hawk and eagle species will see chickens as a tasty meal, some are more likely to attack than others. Red-shouldered hawks and Red-tailed hawks are known to love a delicious chicken meal. Cooper’s hawks also love a good drumstick. Likewise, Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles find hens quite irresistible.
Generally, a Hawk or Eagle attack will occur during the day when the chickens are roaming freely. And the intelligence of these predatorial birds should not be underestimated. If they missed out the first time, it is likely they will come back for another attempt. If they managed to secure a meal on their first attack, you can be assured they will return.
So what should you do?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can reduce or eliminate an aerial attack.
Fortify the chicken run
If wild bird attacks are common in your area, you might consider building a chicken run if you don’t already have one.
A chicken run is connected to the chicken coop or may contain the coop depending on its size. Ideally, a chicken run allows the chickens to roam freely outside the coop and has a door or access port for you to enter inside. While some chicken runs are only 2 or 3 feet in height, others can allow height for human entry. Such afforded height can give you an opportunity to add fun additions to prevent chicken boredom. Most importantly a chicken run offers your hens safety from predators both aerial and on the ground. With a little planning, you can construct your own chicken run with strength, practicality and make it look uber amazing. There’s a great article on Country Living’s website from which you can draw inspirational ideas from.
If aerial predator attacks from Eagles or Hawks are an issue, you should safe-proof the top of the chicken run. We recommend galvanized wire square mesh with a 20mm – 30mm aperture. The mesh can be secured on horizontal joist framing.
Another option that is a popular choice for those in heat prone regions is a heavy-duty shade cloth. You should ensure you tightly secure the shade cloth is secured tightly to avoid sags and/or lifting at the edges. Once again, horizontal joists from the external top plates will not only strengthen the complete frame but also help the shade cloth from sagging. Additionally, the shade cloth offers UV and heat protection for your hens.
Finally, you can use a good quality 42gsm bird woven anti bird netting. This type of netting is found on vineyards and fruit orchards to help prevent wild bird attacks and protect fruit crops.
Sound the alarm
Roosters and large trained dogs are perfect for sounding an imminent attack alarm if your chickens are free-range. Geese are also worth considering as they have excellent eyesight and will spot the attacker and sound the alarm. On an individual level, roosters let out a high pitched scream when the flock is under attack. This gives the hens an early warning to take shelter. Roosters can also be surprisingly aggressive if the flock or their domain is under imminent threat from a predator. Remember not all areas permit you to have a rooster so check with the local guidelines before buying one. Geese are also great at letting out early warnings. As a rule of thumb, wild birds tend to hear the noise and focus on finding easier prey. As for a trained dog protective of your flock, Hawk vs. large dog, no more needs to be said.
Create a ruse
Hawks and Owls by their nature are enemies. By putting owl statues it may serve as a deterrent from a distance. Apart from statues, you might suspend a couple of mock owls in flight sculptures from tree branches overhead the coop. These are available on Amazon.com – Owl Bird Repellant figures. Likewise, hawks tend to avoid large objects which move. Get your kids in on the fun and make a straw man (scarecrow). Remember hawks avoid things that move, so to keep up appearances make sure you move him/her weekly.
The beauty of these simple tips and tricks is they are very cheap to implement. Based on reviews online, almost 70% of people think they are worth giving a go as a method of How to Protect chickens from Hawk and Eagle Attacks.
Noise and Light tactics
Attacking wild birds such as hawks tend to be deterred by noise and moving surfaces that reflect the light. Some great ideas which once again are inexpensive to try are:
Mylar ribbon or also known as flash tape can be easily hung from tree branches or twine. It has a very metallic sound when the wind blows it around. It is quite a popular low-cost deterrent to unwanted bird attacks. With its metallic reflective surface, it also benefits from reflecting light which can scare hawks and pest birds and help to stop hawks from attacking chickens.
Wind chimes can also make noise which may scare off wild birds and hawks. In the next section, we talk about how hawks can be intimidated by the movement of a reflective light source. If you use a polished aluminum or chrome set of wind chimes it achieves both noise and light distraction.
Light & Reflection
As mentioned above, Mylar ribbon can be a great affordable option in providing scattering light reflection which can deter bird attacks. But you can also repurpose things around the home also. It doesn’t have to be expensive to Protect chickens from Hawk Attacks. You could use things such as:
- Scratched CD, DVDs, or laser discs
- Old tinsel that is looking a little tired
- Aluminum cans
- Aluminum baking/food trays
- Thick grade tin foil
- Polished wind chimes
Some people swear by essential oils and fragrances that Hawks and other birds can’t stand. Our mind is not entirely made up here. The reason we are doubtful is if the hawk gets this close to attacking your chickens, it may as well grab one quickly while it is in the area. But for those who might like to try this idea. Use essential oils such as Garlic, Chili, Vinegar, and Cayenne Pepper.
To deploy the offending fragrance, find hard to reach places. For example, put a few garlic cloves around where your chickens can not get to. Replace as they begin to rot. Cayenne pepper can be made into a paste with a drop or two of lemon juice and water. Mix till it is a thick paste, not runny. Then apply to an inaccessible part of the coop roof or branches of nearby trees.
If you have any other ideas, home remedies or suggestions for us to add to this page let us know.
Remember, chicken is a hot menu item for many predators in the air and the ground. So take the time to read out other articles on how to protect your chickens.
Don’t forget to share this page with your fellow backyard chicken keepers.