Pet chickens can meet a tragic end when your property is visited by owls.
Your favorite songbirds can fall prey to owls that swoop down on them at night. And even puppies and kittens are vulnerable to owl attacks.
It’s not hard to keep owls under control.
There are many owl-control interventions that work and that don’t cost a lot.
Here are some of our most successful suggestions for getting rid of owls.
Get a rooster
The #1 reason people want to get rid of owls is to protect their pet chickens.
The #1 natural protector of hens is roosters.
These aggressive male birds fiercely protect their harem.
They will fight to the death to keep an owl or any other predator from getting any female or any chick in their flock.
Roosters are to chickens what sheepdogs are to sheep.
Roosters will keep your other chickens safe from owls, but that isn’t to say they don’t have their own downsides:
- Roosters may attack the small children in your family that you built the hen house to entertain. Children need time to learn how to approach a rooster, so it does not become upset.
- Roosters and dogs don’t just experience friction in cartoons. A rooster will gleefully peck your pooch’s nose, or jump up on your dog to defend the henhouse. That’s true even if you have the rooster behind chicken wire and your dog is just approaching the fence for closer inspection.
- Roosters make great alarm clocks. You just can’t turn them off. Roosters begin their daily cock-a-doodle-do cry at the first hint of sunlight, which may be a couple of hours before the sun actually comes up.
- Roosters need to be paired with at least 8 to 10 hens, or their constant activity will wear the hens out.
- Your ownership of a rooster can be misunderstood. In some locations, roosters are mostly kept for cockfighting. You may even need a permit to take a rooster home.
If you have a relatively large number (8 to 12) hens, your children are at least elementary school age, and your dog is large and calm, roosters can be the perfect, natural solution for owl control.
Just keep in mind that when you have a rooster, the eggs will be fertile.
Take a break from attracting songbirds
Humans love to watch beautiful songbirds. Owls live to eat them.
One way to reestablish your backyard bird sanctuary is to stop attracting songbirds until owls move somewhere else.
Whenever you find evidence of repeated owl attacks on your chickadees, your robins, your bluebirds, your hummingbirds, or any other small birds, take feeders down.
Empty your birdbath. You don’t want to attract small songbirds to their death.
You may need to go a full season without bringing small birds to your yard to make sure the owls stay away.
When the owls are gone, you can resume feeding desirable birds with additional precautions to give them cover to stay safe.
When you start attracting birds again:
- Make sure you place birdbaths and feeders near shrubs, brush, or rose bushes where small birds can take shelter from predators that come in from above.
- Don’t restart feeding before you take owl-deterrent measures we’ll list below.
Compete with hooting
Owls find their way around at night by their hooting.
The echoes of their hoots help them find their nests, zero in on prey, and keep from bumping into things.
If you provide sound that confuses their hooting, they will have to fly somewhere else.
The most efficient sonic deterrent against owls is an ultrasound generator.
These devices generate high-frequency sounds that you and your neighbors (and your dogs) can’t hear that confuse owls. ‘
Lacking a high-frequency sonic generator, you could always rely on bells, whistles, chains clanking, barking dogs, cats howling in the moonlight, mooing, loud televisions, radios tuned to rock stations, and wind chimes.
These methods of sonic deterrence keep owls away, but people and pets are annoyed, too.
Things to remember about sound deterrents against owls include:
- Motion-activated high-frequency sound generators like the Cleanrth TSBR620 can detect an owl coming into your property up to 115 feet (35 meters) away. You can set them on intermittent mode so owls don’t get used to them.
- Sonic cannons scare away birds of all kinds at first, but it only takes a few days for birds to get used to them. Most sonic cannons are illegal in urban areas.
Keep the lights on at night
Owls prefer to hunt in total darkness. They even hunt less when there is a full moon.
That’s because they are extremely nearsighted. Their hoots operate something like radar.
They can zero in on their prey by the echoes of the sounds they make. But they are confused by all but nearby objects in dim light.
You can leave a night light on in your yard to discourage owls.
This will attract flying insects that feed other birds, like purple martins and woodpeckers.
But you shouldn’t leave a light on all night if you are keeping chickens.
Chickens are attracted to light, too. They will want to sleep at the edges of their coops if there is light outside their coop but not inside.
Night lights also disrupt their egg-laying patterns and confuse your rooster (who may make morning sounds all night long).
The compromise between lights that stay on all night and no light at all is motion-activated lights.
This way, strobe lights will flash into the owl’s eyes for just a few seconds while it is swooping down on the animals you want to protect. Just remember that:
- Leaving lights on all night can affect growth patterns in your plants. Onions, for instance, begin forming bulbs in response to daylight, and night light makes poinsettias stay green.
- Strobe lights can also upset songbirds, so point the motion sensors upward, in the direction from which owls are most likely to come in.
Protect livestock with bird netting
Chickens, guinea hens, turkeys, ducks, and geese are all tasty treats for owls and other predatory birds.
You can keep them from being eaten by making sure they are under a bird net 24/7.
Poultry love to graze the grass for seeds, tender shoots, worms, and insects.
You can build a moveable cage for them that protects them as they forage over your fallow garden or pasture land during the day. Just move the whole cage to put them back in their coop at night.
Key points to remember about protecting poultry with bird netting include:
- Nylon net isn’t as sturdy as polyethylene. Owls sometimes can rip through nylon, but polyethylene will stop them.
- When you use a portable cage for daytime poultry protection, clean your shoes and wash your hands after you are done. Droppings and feathers can carry disease.
Put up a scare-owl (a scarecrow)
Scarecrows work on the principle that predator birds are cautious animals.
From a distance, shirts, pants, a pillow face, and a hat on a platform of two pieces of wood look just enough like a human being to persuade a high-flying predator to go somewhere else.
At night, a scarecrow will reflect an owl’s hoots in a way that the owl will wonder if there is a human standing in the yard, waiting for them.
Stationary scarecrows are OK for keeping owls away. Owls do their hunting at night, and they’re nearsighted, so a realistic-looking scarecrow isn’t necessary.
However, if you want to keep daytime predator birds and crows away, an animatronic, moving scarecrow is a better investment of your time and money.
Things to keep in mind about scarecrows for owl control include:
- Placing your scarecrow in the middle of your yard ensures that birds see it (or, in the case of owls, hear it).
- There are commercial scarecrows that can flash strobe lights or spray incoming owls with water.
- Asymmetric, lopsided scarecrows are scarier to birds than scarecrows that look unnaturally symmetric. One shorter arm or a tip of the hat is more likely to scare a bird than a scarecrow standing upright.
Install bird spikes on owl roosting areas
Owls need a perch from which to do their hooting. Their round, disc-like eye sockets pick up echoes of the sounds they make.
The fractions of a millisecond between when an echo arrives in one “ear” and when it arrives in the other give an owl a way to triangulate on its prey.
But owls can’t interpret the echoes of their hoots unless they are perched somewhere. Take away the perch, and owls can’t hunt your chickens or your songbirds.
The way to take away an owl’s perch is by putting up bird spikes.
Bird spikes are pointed pieces of plastic (or, sometimes, stainless steel) that come in rows. The spikes are so close together that owls can’t land and perch where the spikes are installed.
Bird spikes aren’t expensive. They are easy to install.
They come in strips with adhesive on the back. Peel off the paper backing to expose the adhesive, and lay down the strip of spikes so owls can’t roost.
Two points to keep in mind when you are installing bird spikes are:
- You can have spikes that are too far apart, but you can’t have them too close together. Denser spikes are better than thinner spikes.
- Wear gloves when you install bird spikes. They will protect you from contact with droppings, feathers, mites, fleas, fungi, and bacteria.
Control rats and mice
Owls don’t just eat songbirds, chicken, and other pet birds. They also eat rats and mice.
The fewer rats and mice you have on your property, the fewer visits you will have from owls.
Cats aren’t an ideal way to control rats and mice.
A dozen or more rats can kill a cat, and cats can catch diseases from the mice and rats they capture and eat. Adult cats can scare owls away, but owls can capture kittens.
Dogs also are natural enemies of rats and mice, but they can’t follow them into their hiding places.
And don’t even think about putting out rat poison. Rats that eat it can die in undesirable locations, like inside your walls. Rat poison can also be found by pets and small children.
So, how do you control the rats and mice that might otherwise feed your owls?
- Never leave food scraps, fallen fruit, or garbage on your lawn. It makes an all-you-can-eat buffet for rodents.
- Keep the lids on garbage cans tightly closed. A bungee cord is best.
- Keep your lawn mowed. Mice hide in high grass and eat grass seeds.
- Control grubs and beetles with non-toxic treatments. Mice and rats love to eat them.
Remove nesting options (but don’t remove nests)
Owls won’t stay anywhere that they can’t mate, lay their eggs, and raise their young. If you remove owl nesting opportunities from your yard, owls will go elsewhere.
Owls like the same kinds of nesting sites as woodpeckers. They favor holes in trees and holes in wood siding. They will nest in dead trees and abandoned barns.
Consider cutting down dead trees. You may not want to remove a dead tree, however, if it is serving as a home to woodpeckers.
You definitely want to seal any crevices in wood siding, and make barns and outbuildings secure against the entry of wild animals.
What you must not do is to remove a nest with eggs or baby owls.
Mother owls become very defensive of their young. You aren’t likely to suffer a serious injury in an owl attack, but there are numerous cases of bacterial infections after scratches by owls recorded in the medical literature.
Owls in your attic and owls in your chimney will require professional removal. It’s not lawful in the US or Canada to interfere with the nests of migratory birds without special permits.
Any baby owls in a nest removed in your home will have to be sent to a wildlife rescue center.
Call wildlife control in your city or county to get in touch with owl removal specialists you need.
Other articles you may also like:
- 7 Owls You Can Find In Florida (with Pictures)
- Can You Keep Pygmy Owls as Pets?
- 15 Different Types of Owls (Popular Owl Species with images)