Belonging to the family of the raptors, hawks are a group of predatory birds that possess a vision as sharp as their talons. While these birds thrive in the wild, having them hang around your house can be daunting. If you have a small animal or bird pet, these birds of prey can be a threat to them as well. If you’re looking for a way to scare hawks away from your property, you will find plenty of solutions for it in this article.
Here are 10 effective ways to scare away hawks:
- Trim tall trees in your backyard: Hawks are drawn to tall trees or poles that can act as a vantage point for them. If you have any such structure in your yard, consider trimming or removing it.
- Get caged bird feeders: Bird feeders offer a major food source to these birds. To protect your backyard birds from the hawks, get them caged feeders that hawks can’t penetrate.
- Install an eagle or own decoy: Hawks are afraid of eagles and some larger owl species and tend to leave them alone. Setting up the decoy of these raptors around your yard will also keep them away.
- Use noise deterrents
- Get one or two Roosters
- Use reflective objects
- Get a guard dog
- Build a scarecrow
- Cover your poultry birds with a net
- Get professional help
If you want to get rid of any unwanted avian guest efficiently and permanently, you must understand them first: their diet, behavior, hunting pattern, and more. It will give you an insight into their behavior and help in pointing out what it is that is drawing them to your backyard.
And once you’ve figured out the reason they keep returning to your yard, you can solve the problem from its roots, getting rid of them once and for all. So, let’s begin by learning more about these birds of prey.
Learning about Hawks’ Characteristics and Behaviors
Identifying Hawks (Common characteristics)
Most people tend to be confused between hawks, eagles, and falcons, claiming they’re all quite similar in appearance. However, there are many differences between the three that you can notice upon close examination.
Hawks have two subfamilies, the accipitrine hawks and the buteonine hawks. The buteonine hawks are often referred to as “buzzards” outside of America. The species of both these families have different characteristics:
- The Accipitrine Hawks prefer to inhabit woodland regions instead of open habitats.
- These hawks have a remarkably longer tail than the buteonines.
- They also have a sharper vision.
- The Buteonine Hawks tend to fly across open areas.
- These hawks have larger wings than the accipitrines, but their tail is shorter.
- They are also built more sturdily and have a broader overall frame.
Hawk species found in the United States
As you can imagine, the family of hawks is quite large and diverse, homing over 200 different species in the world. Out of these, 19 can be found in the United States. The list given below will give you a concise idea of which species might be frequenting in your backyard:
1. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter Cooperii)
2. Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)
3. Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga)
4. Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
5. Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris)
6. White-tailed Hawk (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)
7. Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus)
8. Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
9. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
10. Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
11. Hawaiian Hawk (Buteo solitarius)
12. Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
13. Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus)
14. Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
15. Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
16. Long-legged Hawk (Buteo rufinus)
17. Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
18. Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
The diet of hawks
Although hawks have a rather large family with diverse sizes and geographical locations, their diet is surprisingly uncomplicated. Unlike other, larger birds of prey, such as eagles and some owl species, the hawks always go after smaller prey.
Rabbits, squirrels, lizards, frogs, snakes, fish, mice, voles, insects, and smaller birds like doves and pigeons are the primary prey of these raptors. Hawks also rarely hunt in the air; they prefer grabbing their game from the ground, which is why the ground-feeding birds are their prime target.
In times of food crisis, it is seen that some of the larger hawk species carry away the younger ones of pets as well as livestock animals. However, it is not something that happens commonly.
How much can hawks lift?
As you might have gathered from the last sections, hawks cannot lift too much weight in the air. As a rule of thumb, these raptors can only lift a weight lesser than and equal to their own.
Since they’re not very heavy themselves, you cannot expect them to lift heavy animals. In most cases where the hawks hunt on chickens, they usually kill them and feed on them on the ground itself.
The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo Jamaicensis), a species most commonly spotted in backyards in the United States, can lift rabbits that weigh around 4 to 5 pounds.
Where do hawks hunt?
The hunting grounds of hawks vary slightly according to the species we’re talking about. However, we can give you a general idea of the type of landscape they’re most likely to frequent.
Because most hawk species (particularly the buteonine family) are primarily ground hunters and, therefore, prefer to hunt in open landscapes. In such landscapes, they can easily locate their prey even from a vast distance and dive down to catch them without any obstruction.
However, some species do like to inhabit wooded areas (most accipitrine hawks). These hawks are often perched on the highest tree in their vicinity, which helps them scan their surroundings for potential prey.
Some hawk species also tend to inhabit areas where they can find an abundance of food sources. However, backyards are one of the least likely hunting spots for these birds. They’re not really keen on hovering around human settlement.
Why could hawks frequent your backyard?
As we just discussed, the places that humans populate are not an ideal choice for the hawks. So, if you see these raptors in your backyard, there might be a strong attraction point for them there. But what could it be? We have some ideas. Take a look:
1. Bird feeders are the main reason why these birds of prey could be hovering over your yard. Wondering why? The seeds, suet, or any other food you put inside these feeders are not what attracts them. It is the birds that these feeders draw to your yard that are the target of the hawks.
2. Even without the feeders, the bushes and flowerbeds are also known to invite several small songbirds and other flying insects. If you have these in your yard, hawks might also come, hoping to catch some of these birds and insects.
3. Is there a tree in your yard that is considerably taller than the other trees in your neighborhood? If there is, then the hawks might be using it as a perch spot to scan the area for hunting.
4. Are you a pet parent to a small dog, cat, chickens, or ducks? While all these are not a common target for the hawks, they can certainly attract a hungry and desperate hawk.
5. Do you happen to have nut-bearing trees in your yard? As you might already know, such trees are a big hit among the squirrels, other rodents, and occasional birds. If these little creatures frequent your yard, going after the nuts, the hawks might come hoping to pick them up for a meal.
6. Having a water source in your yard or garden, be it a small pond (natural or artificial), a fountain, or a birdbath, can attract all kinds of amphibians to it. These amphibians, in turn, can attract the hawk species that enjoy feasting on them.
Take a look around your property and check if you can find any of the attraction points mentioned above there. If you do, you know what’s calling the hawks to your property. However, just because these can invite hawks to your yard doesn’t mean you can get rid of them, does it? Certainly not your pets.
You’re right. You shouldn’t have to give up any of these to drive the hawks away. And guess what? You wouldn’t have to because that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.
Below, we will discuss how you can protect your backyard from these raptors if you’re a birder, a pet parent to ducks and chicks, or have a small dog or cat as a pet. Keep reading to learn more.
Protecting your backyard birds from hawks
If you’re an enthusiastic birder and want to protect your backyard birdies from the attack of the hawks, the following measures can help you with it.
Provide cover for the backyard birds
Because bird feeders draw many beautiful songbirds and other species to your yard, they can appeal to predators like hawks as well. While you wouldn’t want to put down these feeders, placing them at the right location could be very helpful to the birds that feed on them.
If you have dense bushes, shrubberies, low hanging trees in your yard, it would be best to place your feeder closer to, or in the middle, of these.
That way, if the hawks are coming at the defenseless backyard birds on the feeders, they will at least have the opportunity to hide behind the bushes and trees.
Get them caged feeders
Caged feeders are perfect for protecting your backyard birds from the hawks when they are feeding. In these feeders, a wide cage is placed around the seed-holder. The netting of this cage is big enough for the songbirds to enter but not big enough for their predators, such as the hawks.
It means that the birds can safely feed on the seeds without being threatened by hawks. Additionally, the cage can also be a safe spot for them, a place they can go to when a predator pursues them and stay in as long as they want.
If you’re noticing a hawk problem in your yard, you can purchase a caged feeder for the safety of your backyard birds.
However, if you already have a feeder and don’t want to buy another one, you can also add a cage to your current feeder. There are many tutorial videos about it online that can help you.
Trim the tall trees
Do you remember how we talked about tall trees making an excellent vantage point for the hawks in the last section? Well, if you have one of these trees in your backyard, it might be dangerous for your backyard birdies.
Now, we are not asking you to cut down the tree, only trim it a little from the top so that it’s at level with all the other trees in your locality.
If you do this, your average-lengthed tree will hold no appeal for the hawks, and they might stop coming to your yard.
Ground feeding birds: easiest baits for the hawks
We’ve talked about how most hawk species have a thing for ground hunting earlier, making the ground-feeding birds most vulnerable to hawk attacks.
If you don’t want this to happen to the birds that frequent your backyard, you should start with removing ground tray feeders (if you have one).
Moreover, seeds spilled by the birds on the feeders can also attract other birds to the ground. Therefore, you must clean after the birds regularly.
Some people are also used to sprinkle seeds around their yard for doves and pigeons. If you’re one of them and have been noticing hawks around your property lately, it is a sign that you should stop this practice.
Take measures to prevent bird-window collision
If hawks have been frequenting around your backyard, sooner or later, they will make a move to attack the birds that feed on your feeders.
The attack will send all your little birdies in a frenzy. When that happens, and there’s a window or other reflective surface nearby, they are likely to fly into it; this is also called “bird-window collision.” It is not only painful for the birds but could also leave behind considerable damage to your property.
If you want to avoid this from happening, you must never place your feeders close to a window or any other surface that they can potentially collide into. As a concerned birder, you should do it even if you don’t have the threat of hawks looming on your head.
Take the feeders down for a while
If you have tried all of the methods we have suggested above and are still not able to get rid of the hawks, you should consider taking down your feeders.
Don’t worry; it is not going to be permanent. We’re only asking you to do it for long enough for the hawks to realize that there are no preys for them in your yard and leave it alone.
Generally, the process takes about a week or two. Once the hawks stop coming to your yard, you can put them back up.
Protecting your Ducks and Chickens from hawks
Do you have ducks or chickens as backyard pets? Well, while hawks don’t usually go for fowl birds like these, if they’re motivated by hunger, they just might.
In fact, the Red-tailed Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Cooper’s Hawks are collectively known as “Chicken Hawks” for their frequent attacks on chickens.
So, what does it means for your pets? It means that if the hawks have taken a liking to your backyard, it is no longer safe for them to roam around freely there.
If you’re concerned about the safety of your feathered pets from these avian predators, here are a few things that could help you with it. Take a look:
Create a feeding cover for the ducks and chickens
All the chicken owners have a coop for their chickens, a place of their own where they can play and enjoy. These coops work great for ducks as well.
In fact, both chickens and ducks can be kept in the same coop as well. However, if you have more than 2-3 of each, it is better to go for separate coops to avoid commotion.
Are you wondering why we are suddenly talking about coops? Well, it is because an extended coop can be an excellent ground cover for your feathered pets. If you can get them an extended coop, you wouldn’t have to worry about their safety in the backyard.
Besides this, you can also build them a shelter extension or a run in your yard so that they can be concealed from the hawks and, thus, safe from them.
Keep your pets within the coop during dusk and dawn
If the idea of keeping your beloved pets within coops, no matter how big, doesn’t sit well with you, it’s alright. After all, they certainly deserve the freedom to roam around in their yard.
What if we told you that instead of keeping your pets inside all the time, you’d only have to keep them inside during dusk and dawn? This is because these are the times when hawks seek prey most actively. So, as long as you’re not letting your pets out to play during these times, they are safe from the threat of hawks.
Create a crowd
When protecting your pet fowl birds from predators like hawks, the simple advice of creating a crowd can be very effective. If you have a couple of ducks or chickens, get a couple more, and then some.
As dangerous as hawks are, they still want to go after single prey because they don’t want to risk being outnumbered. Therefore, as long as your feathered pets move in a crowd, the hawks will leave them alone.
Roosters as bodyguards
Did you know that roosters can be highly protective birds? These male fowls have quite the alpha personality and, thus, will instinctively scan the perimeter for any threat and keep an eye out on all the chickens.
If you’re buying a rooster for this purpose, make sure they display protective qualities from the start, and you can leave your chickens out in the yard under their care.
Get a guard dog
Guard dogs have been protecting defenseless animals from predators for several generations and can certainly do it for your feathered pets as well. However, when you get a guard dog, adopt them when they’re young.
It will give you plenty of time and opportunity to train them to see your ducks and chicks as friends and not a meal. Then, they will protect them fiercely, not just from hawks but from all other potential predators.
Scaring away Hawks: Other tips and tricks
If you’re frustrated with having hawks around and want to get rid of them quickly, the following tips and tricks will do just that.
However, there’s only one downside to this: most of these deterrent methods work not only on the hawks but for most other birds as well. If you’re okay with that, let’s begin right away.
Predatory bird decoys
Belonging to the group of birds of prey, the hawks acquire a quite high level on the food chain and are ruthless predators.
However, even these majestic birds have predators that they try to steer clear of. Wondering which species could prey on them? Eagles are the primary predators of hawks, along with some large owl species that can overpower them.
In addition to preying on hawks, the eagles and owls also prey on other smaller birds that are often hawks’ targets.
However, if a hawk realizes that a predator more powerful than themselves also has eyes on the same prey, they’re sensible enough to back down. Hawk’s predators can, therefore, work as an excellent deterrent for them.
Now, while you cannot actually get an eagle or owl to guard your property against the hawks, you can get their decoys. You can set up these decoys (made of plastic, wood, or ceramic) on the trees in your backyard. Although hawks have a sharp vision, they are incapable of distinguishing between a real or fake bird.
Once they see these decoys, they will assume that these birds have claimed the territory as their own, which is why it is dangerous for them to approach it now. The fear of competition and attack will keep the hawks away from your yard for good.
Although scarecrows have been named after the crows and are usually placed in farms to drive away smaller birds, there’s no reason why they cannot be used for raptors like hawks.
Hawks tend to avoid coming in close contact with humans, so they will probably avoid entering your property if they see a human around.
If you’re using scarecrows as a deterrent for the hawks, there are a few things that you will have to keep in mind. First and foremost, you must keep moving it around your yard every few hours.
If it has been standing for the same place for too long, it might seem unnatural to the hawks. Also, don’t keep them in your yard every single day; sometimes, you should bring them inside, too.
Don’t forget that hawks are pretty intelligent birds and will catch on the pretense soon if you don’t keep switching things up.
Did you know that there are certain noises that irritate the birds terribly, driving them away from your property efficiently? When purchasing an anti-hawk noise deterrent, you have several choices you can pick from.
The propane-powered bird cannons can produce loud, erratic noises to disturb the birds and drive them out of a radius of 10 acres. These devices work best if you have a large property surrounding your house. Otherwise, the noise from them can also end up disturbing your neighbors.
If you want to use a method that is only irritable to the birds and not humans, go for an ultrasonic hawk repellent. It produces ultrasonic noises that can vex the birds but will be inaudible to humans.
Some of these repellents come with various customization options that allow you to change the frequency, range, and volume according to your needs.
Lastly, you can also play pre-recorded hawk distress calls to repel the hawks. Hearing the distress calls of another hawk will make your backyard pest think that something dangerous is going on at the place of its origin. It would make them stay away from your yard for a long time.
To make it sound more authentic, you can also add other recordings to the mix, such as the calls of eagles and large owls playing on shuffle. However, avoid playing it on loop for too long, as it might make them suspicious.
If you’re looking for the cheapest solution to the hawk problem, you should go with DIY reflective objects. As with every other bird, reflective objects tend to confuse the hawks as well.
The unnatural patterns of light reflected from these objects appear weird to them, which is why they avoid going near their source. You can use old CDs, small mirror pieces that you can spare, or shiny tapes to make these objects.
Just hang these around the places where the hawks are usually seen in your yard, and the objects will do their job.
Getting professional help
Have you tried everything we’ve suggested above with no success? Well, it’s probably time for you to let the experts handle it. Contact a wildlife removal service in your locality, and they will get rid of the hawks for you.
These people know how to tackle all wild birds and animals and can, therefore, drive them away from your property safely.
They will also be strategic in their approach to ensure that the birds don’t return to your property in the future.
While having a lethal raptor like the hawk hover around your property can be scary for any homeowner, you should never be hasty in taking action against them.
Remember that the Migratory Birds Treaty Act protects these birds in the United States, and hurting them is considered a punishable crime.
We discussed several harmless, humane methods that you can use to drive them away from your property.