Advice on stopping hawk from killing chickens

romycatMay 30, 2008

I live on a beautiful homestead and had have free-ranging Bantam chickens and guineas for years. As expected, predators occasionally kill a chicken but the birth ratio has been much higher than the deathsÂ. Until this spring.

A hawk or pair of hawks have begun targeting our Bantams. Repeatedly we have seen a hawk swoop down and take off with a half grown chick. Some of our hens have lost their entire brood to the hawks. Today I witnessed a hawk attacking a full grown hen. Yelling, I ran towards the hawk and it flew away empty taloned.

The whole flock is very nervous. All morning my chickens have been constantly sounding the hawk alarm call and the chickens stay in hiding under the house and in sheds. They now live in constant fear of death from the sky.

I would appreciate advice on what can I do to discourage visits from hawks. Is shooting the hawks the only option? I know the hawks probably have their own offspring to feed. I admire their hunting skills and know they are an important part of the food chain. I would freely give them all the mice and wild rabbits they could catch, but I don't enjoy losing dozens of my chickens to them.

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It is probably illegal to shoot the hawks---unless you get a nusiance permit. Short of putting a roof over all or part of your chicken area, there is little, save human intervention, that will deter them.

You have provided an easy obtained meal whenever the predators are hungry. The easy food allows the hawks to breed more---which makes more hawks---which makes more need for food---which is easy to get.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 10:38PM
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I don't think you can get a nuisance permit to kill birds of prey because they are protected at the federal level, and the fine for killing any of them or even having their feathers in your possession is stiff. That doesn't mean people don't do it anyway, and my own dh threatened to shoot a hawk that was a problem. I told him if he did I'd turn him in: it is the way of the land, you have provided a ready pantry for them. I don't know any solution short of penning your chickens which kind of defeats the purpose of having chickens, to me.

I guess so far we've been fairly lucky as we haven't had losses surpass gains. Be aware, though, that small kittens or even larger ones are also on their menu.

I wonder if there is any kind of a sound-frequency thing that might work. sharper image used to have something that you could change the frequency to 4 different target pests (insect, mammal, two others??). I used to use one for wasp control. the mammal sound will drive YOU insane, and quickly lol. So I don't know what would work for birds that wouldn't also stress your chickens.

If there is some way you can keep your chickens put up for a couple months they will move on. Right now they are rearing their young so couldn't move even if they wanted to, but they wouldn't nest there again next year if they loose their (easy) food source now.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 4:55PM
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They make netting to keep birds off of fruit trees and out of gardens. Could you suspend some over the areas where your birds most like to hang out? Or just regular wire fencing, hanging like a roof over their favorite areas to protect them? I would probably tie some strips of fabric or something to the fencing or netting to show the hawks that there is an obstacle there, so they don't get tangled up and hurt. Once they figure it out, your birds may use these areas to hide under when the hawk alert sounds. If they can't swoop down and snatch the birds, I bet the hawks will give up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bird netting from Gardener's Supply

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 7:46PM
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I use the bird netting which I got cheap from Home Depot to cover my pond every year when herons and kingfishers are breeding. I also use a floating island planter year 'round. My goldfish are smart enough to hide from birds under it when they see shadows.

I bet if you provided netting covering part of your chickens run that they would learn to run under it. If a hawk got tangled in it they would learn not to come back.

You can also try yelling at the hawks but shooting them is illegal and can get you in serious trouble. More would just move in the territory anyway.

Maybe planting trees or shrubs in the area might help provide more cover?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 1:29PM
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Shooting the hawk is not an option, its highly illegal. They are protected.

I had a hawk picking birds off of my feeders. I stopped feeding the birds and the hawk went away. Then I started feeding again.

I think if you can stop free ranging the chickens for awhile, the hawks will go away. I would provide a cover, netting or containment for the chickens. If the hawks can't get to the chickens they will leave. This may have to be a repeated each year.

I would try a fake owl. The birds of prey are somewhat territorial. If they see the fake owl, they might move on.

I also would not have wild bird feeders either. Any food source for the hawks will encourage them to stick around.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:31PM
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I don't know how legal or illegal it is. I shot fireworks at the hawk. I used a large size bottle rocket with report. The accuracy of the bottle rocket is very bad And the chances of hitting the hawk is very slim, it is what I used at one time and the hawk did not come back for months.
In the winter time food is scarce for hawks And my fat and slow chickens are easy targets. It is affective and does not kill the hawk.

From past experience Removing the chickens from the hawks is the best thing. And then allowing them to free range after the hawks move on.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 8:58AM
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We had free-range chickens and never had a problem with hawks although they sure tried to get the chickens.
We also had three roosters though who alerted the chickens when the hawks were circling and the chickens would all run for cover immediately.

The roosters would just stand out there until the hawks gave up --- even a large hawk doesn't mess with a rooster. BTW, other predators are either run off or the chickens where alerted.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 4:17PM
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Yesterday I opened the door intime to see a group of hawks fly off - one had something with him. My big, furry, blonde cat Joey never came in the rest of the day or last night. Now I realize the hawk had picked up my cat and flew off with him! This is terrible!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 7:19AM
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Oh no Teresa!
I worry about my rabbit and small, seven pound dog here. We have hawks, buzzards, misc birds of prey roosting in my area (tree groves near a ravine across the street).
So sorry about Joey.
I don't free range any of my creatures under 24 pounds due to the birds of prey here.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:46PM
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I have had a number of both ducks and chickens killed by a large redtail hawk...last fall one beheaded our last small duck before I scared it this spring we have sighted 9 of the big birds of prey. We have built a big totally covered coop for our couple of chickens and now a overhang with windsocks and chimes hanging around it to protect our new ducklings in the duck yard....I sure hope this works because there are still openings for the hawks to fly in if they want but my husband insists a hawk won't fly into a place it can't get out of quickly.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 7:33PM
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Today a few red tailed hawks got into my run and took some of my chickens. I caught them in the act and found a dead Sultan full of blood marks. I was pissed off - but in reality - I'm on their land. I went and bought 3 Cool-a-roos at Costco and put them up between the coops and the trees. I figure if the hawks can's see them from above - that they will leave them alone. I "think" they need to swoop down as well and there isn't enough room for their wingspan now. - Here's hoping that does the trick!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:53PM
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The only thing that you can do is place a lid over your coop. We have our chickens free range but also have the coop. I have wire over top and I have hot wire on the bottom half. I have yet to lose any of my ladies to hawks or anything else for that matter. I lock my ladies up till mid afternoon, let them range till dusk and lock them back up again. But my ladies will follow me around the yard. Heck I have had them even come in the house when the door is open. I wish you all luck with your hank problems.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Empireman ... You are right. Even strips of shadecloth with a gap of a foot or so between strips works. Most hawks need a certain amount of "swoop" clearance and they are unwilling to risk hitting a wing.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Maybe your next dog -- if you like dogs -- should be a herding dog mix. If raised with the chickens, it should feel some protection towards them. A full breed herder like a Border Collie or Aussie Shepard might feel the need to constantly round them up, making them crazy.

My dog before the present one was a Chow Border mix. He had a average energy level and kept his herding tendencies to a minimum. But more than the breed determines the dogs actions. Mine probably would be considered a beta personality, comfortable with other animals.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 12:26PM
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I had a problem in the spring covered the pen that worked until fall when the bears destroyed the pen and killed more chickens now its winter birds of prey have had a field day on 200 more I Found about 150 nails in a 12 x 12 pics of plywood with a rag on a wire mounted in the center work best as the hawk swoops in to grab the rag he rubs his belly on the nails and fly's off to drain out elsewhere or you can figure on spending thousands to keep replacing chicks which are not protected by our wonderful goverment

    Bookmark   February 21, 2015 at 2:59PM
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Our experience with free range chickens is that if they have a rooster to watch over them, hawks are not a problem. He will alert them to find cover quickly even when a plane goes over.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 8:27AM
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