It is upsetting to witness a hawk swooping down and carrying away a goldfinch, a robin, or a kitten.
The occasional presence of hawks and other raptors on your lawn is a sign that you live in a healthy environment for wildlife, but the simple fact is most of them would rather they did their hunting somewhere else.
You can encourage hawks to find other hunting grounds with these simple methods.
Put up an animatronic owl decoy
Hawks are predators, but they can also become prey. Larger raptors (birds that have sharp talons on their feet to seize other animals) like eagles and owls sometimes hunt for hawks.
Larger raptors also feed on the animals hawks like to eat.
If hawks see their enemies have claimed your property as their own, they won’t risk a confrontation to look for food. They will fly away.
You don’t really want to try to attract live eagles or owls to your property to get rid of hawks. Eagles and owls pose even greater problems for songbirds and small pets than hawks.
However, you can put a decoy owl or even a decoy eagle to keep all possible raptor threats to songbirds out of your landscape.
It’s important to invest in animatronic decoys. Hawks that make several passes over your property can figure out that less expensive, stationary owl decoys aren’t a real threat.
Life-sized, real-looking animatronic owls imitate the motions that real owls make. If you move them around every few days, passing hawks will leave your property alone.
You can’t just leave a decoy bird, even an animatronic bird in the same location indefinitely without hawks eventually figured out the ruse.
There are also animatronic decoy eagles and kites that look like eagles to hawks passing by your property. Kites, of course, need wind to fly and don’t always conveniently come down on your property.
Try an ultrasonic bird repellent
Hawks don’t like loud thuds, like the sound of distant gunfire.
They will flee high-pitched, erratic, loud sounds that cause pain around the openings in their heads where they would receive sound waves if they had ears.
There are bird cannons that make explosion sounds at erratic intervals, every few minutes. They are very effective at keeping hawks away. The problem is they also repel songbirds.
Your neighbors are likely to object, and noisemakers may also violate local noise ordinances.
Ultrasound generators put out frequencies hawks can hear but people can’t. They will drive hawks away without irritating people by broadcasting high-frequency sounds birds make when they are in distress.
Ultrasound generators will also repel pigeons, seagulls, starlings, and sparrows. Most models can be programmed to send a distress signal specific to the kind of bird you are trying to keep away and have day and night programming switches.
They can be useful for keeping hawks out of an area of about 6,000 square feet (a little over 500 square meters).
But scientists have found that once one hawk has figured out that the noises protecting your property aren’t really coming from a bird in distress, they can communicate to other hawks that the coast is clear.
Protect your bird feeders
The last thing you want to do when you put up a bird feeder is to lead songbirds to their deaths.
But that is exactly what may happen if you don’t shield your bird feeders from predator birds.
Hawks look for prey like songbirds from above. When they spot a defenseless, smaller bird, they will quickly swoop down and take it.
Songbirds congregated at feeders are a feeding opportunity that hawks can’t resist. But if the hawks can’t see the birds at your feeder, the songbirds stay safe.
Protect birds by hanging their feeder under a gazebo, the awning of your roof, an umbrella, or easy to reach low-hanging branches of a tree.
You can also protect songbirds by getting a caged bird feeder.
Install bird spikes
Hawks don’t always hunt for prey from high above. Sometimes they will perch on a ledge or the top of a swing set or the awning of a gazebo to wait for songbirds to fly within range.
You can make sitting in wait for songbirds impossible by installing bird spikes.
Bird spikes are clear plastic or stainless steel nail-like projections that you can put out in strips to deprive predators of a perch. They come in strips with an adhesive backing. Just peel off the paper on the back of the strip of spikes to expose the adhesive, and lay it down on a flat surface.
Hawks won’t be able to get a grip on their perch, so they will have to look for prey by flying back and forth overhead. You will have protected your bird feeders so they can’t attack that way.
Just don’t install bird spikes on a horizontal surface. Hawks can use the spikes to hang a nest, and then you will have a family of resident songbird predators.
You can take this process another step by eliminating the places for hawks to spy on prey altogether.
Eliminate hawk vantage points
Sometimes it isn’t enough to put out bird spikes. Sometimes you need to eliminate the places hawks can watch their prey altogether.
Hawks like to watch in wait for songbirds to fly back into the open after feeding. They need a convenient perch to watch their prey. So get rid of the hawk’s vantage points:
- If you have heard hawks screeching above, look around for places where they may perch.
- Look for perches that have clear lines of sight to your bird feeder. Then block the line of sight.
- Remove dead branches with no leaf cover that have a line of sight to your bird feeder. Cut down dead trees.
- Cap utility posts on your property with bird spikes. (Don’t attempt to alter posts owned by the power company.)
- Block the view from any vantage point up to 300 feet (100 meters) away. That’s the maximum distance hawks will fly in to capture songbirds and chickens.
If you eliminate vantage points or block their line of sight, hawks will hunt elsewhere.
Keep Rodents in Control
Hawks don’t just eat songbirds, newborn kittens, hamsters, guinea pigs, and bunnies. They also feed on rodents
Mice and rats make up a large part of most hawks’ diets. You may appreciate the fact that hawks can do some of your rodent control for you.
Still, it’s important to keep rats and mice out of your yard and away from your home, so hawks won’t come to regard your yard as a feeding ground.
Don’t try to control rats and mice with poisons. Rats and mice that swallow poisons may die and decay where you can’t retrieve them. The odor of decay will linger for weeks, and it can attract even more mice and rats.
It’s unlawful in the United States and Canada to put out poisons that may be consumed by migrating birds.
Don’t try to control rats and mice with glue traps. Hawks will just make an easier meal of the trapped rodents. And, like poisons, it’s illegal to put out glue traps that may kill migrating birds.
Clean up brush and cut tall grass to remove rodent habitat. Make sure the lids stay on trash cans so rodents can’t get in.
Bird feeders that are squirrel-proof are also rodent-proof. A squirrel-proof bird feeder may have a lock at the top that blocks squirrel (or mouse or rat) access. When a squirrel or a rodent steps on the lock, a metal shield pops out to protect the bird seed below.
Or a squirrel-proof feeder may activate a motorized feeding ring.
The substantial weight of the squirrel or rodent activates a motor that spins the ring around the feeder that birds use as a perch. It rotates until the unwanted intruder falls off
When you eliminate rats and mice, with the help of methods that keep squirrels out of your feeder, hawks won’t be as interested in your property.
Get a guard dog
Just the sight of a dog patrolling your yard is enough to keep hawks and other predators away.
Certain breeds, such as sheepdogs, Great Pyrenees, and mastiffs usually are compatible with birds. Sighthounds, bred for hunting birds, terriers, pointers, retrievers, bloodhounds, and Huskies usually are not.
Any dogs from the AKC’s Herding Group will be friendly with birds, including chickens.
Any breed of dog can be a threat to birds, but if you spend some time getting to know your dog before you make it a member of your family, and you choose a gentle dog, birds and dogs should get along well.
If you have chickens, give your dog and chickens some time to get to know each other through a wire barrier. And don’t keep a rooster if you get a dog.
Put up a scarecrow
Scarecrows are a time-honored method of keeping birds out of fields of corn and vegetable gardens.
Draping old clothes over a wooden T and topping the T with a round pillow with a face painted on it under a hat, scarecrow makers felt they were controlling birds. They usually weren’t.
Modern scarecrows are a little more effective. There are life-sized, battery-operated animatronic scarecrows that periodically make motions to frighten birds away.
For a few hundred dollars, you can buy a working scarecrow that scares away hawks and doubles as a party decoration at Halloween.
Scare hawks with reflections
Hawks are skittish about unexpected bright lights. Hanging reflective objects like old CDs and reflective tape that move with the wind will repel hawks on sunny days.
You can also use ready-made yard reflectors.
They’re easy to install, and they catch even more light. But because they do not move in the light, hawks may eventually lose their fear of them.
When you can’t block a hawk’s line of sight from its perch to your bird feeder, hanging up reflecting objects is the next best thing. Try to use reflecting objects that move with the breeze.
Don’t do feeding on the ground
Always feed bird from feeders you hang above the ground, Don’t scatter birdseed on the ground,
Songbirds feeding at ground level have no protection against hawks and other raptors.
When they are feeding, they aren’t as aware of the danger from above, Hawks aren’t as accurate when they are diving at prey in the air.
Protect chickens with bird netting
Millions of families have backyard chickens. Chickens are notoriously difficult to protect from a variety of predators, especially chicken hawks.
You don’t have to keep your chickens in their coop all the time. You can provide your birds with a space to get out and hunt for worms, bugs, and seeds. Just make sure your chicken run is completely protected by bird netting.
The walls of your chicken cage protect them from dogs and cats. The ceiling of your chicken cage is essential for protecting them against hawks.
You can construct your own chicken cage with inexpensive lumber and poultry netting, also known as “chicken wire.” Or you can buy a ready-made chicken cage (preferably with galvanized and stainless steel, so it won’t rust) from farm supply stores and pet centers.
Get a rooster
Roosters are the natural protectors of hens and chicks. Their beaks and talons are a match for hawks that may attack your chicken coop. Getting a rooster to protect your chicken is like getting a sheepdog to protect your sheep.
Some municipalities require some paperwork for the homeownership of a rooster. This is to prevent the acquisition of roosters for cockfighting.
Allow your rooster to roam anywhere you let your hens graze. But be alert to the rooster’s aggressive actions toward hens. And keep in mind that when you have a rooster with your hens, their eggs may hatch.
And when all else fails, hire a professional
When you have tried everything you know to do to keep hawks away, and they are still hanging around your backyard, it might be time to call your local animal control, In rural areas, you can approach state or provincial wildlife control services,
Fish and game experts will know how to deal with hawks. If you live in a densely populated urban area, a licensed and bonded pest control company will be able to help.
Hawks may be a nuisance, but you won’t be able to eradicate them from your area, and you shouldn’t want to. Hawks help keep animal pests under control.
It can take continuous effort to keep them off your property, but with these methods, you can provide the best possible environment for chickens and songbirds.
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