Keeping hawks out

Stephanie8806

Songster
Feb 18, 2019
495
619
191
Central Washington State
Hey there all! This week we lost two chickens to a hawk, both decapitated, one in the run and one in the coop through the chickens door. We are sure it was a hawk. Part of our run is going to be able to be completely closed off, but for the rest I’m entertaining several options for the other portion of the run. I’m here to see what actually works and what isn’t worth the time or money.

Our run has 9 foot high fencing, with no roof or barrier over the top apart from the branches of a MASSIVE Douglas fir that cover the open air part of the run(roughly 25’x18’). The tree is the reason we haven’t had hawk trouble until now, I think, as a hawk isn’t able to fly and dive like it normally does. Because of the steep grade of our landscape, heavy winter snowfall, and asymmetrical layout of the run, installing actual fencing or solid roof would be incredibly complicated and cost prohibitive.

We are going to be hanging aviary netting of some sort, but I have also been reading that reflective tape products and owl decoys can have a decent effect on deterring birds of prey. Have you had luck with any of these methods, or any others?

We live in the mountains, the coop is off grid, the coop itself is extremely well built and only needs a change in location of the chicken door to become essentially bear proof. And although not ramshackle, the run is a bit more of a little rustic construct. We do free range our birds and have never had problems. I’m about as “okay” as one can be with the idea that sometimes predation is going to happen, but I’m annoyed that it happened in the run, and simply infuriated that the coop became compromised. Just trying to do my best to keep their home sacred and increase the protection in their fenced run.
 

Missmaddymoo008

Chirping
Nov 27, 2020
26
53
54
Hi. Although I live in a place where there are LOTS of hawks. A roof netting will definitely help, just make sure it’s sturdy and won’t collapse easily. If you have a rooster, roosters help alert hens. Add a lot of shady or hide-out spots for them. And Make sure their aren’t any nests or big trees nearby where you plan to move the main coop. Cause a hawk could easily camp out right next to a coop. My personal opinion is not to get decoys, cause that could just attract more predators. Lastly, lock your coop up at night and open on late morning, this helps with owls, if you worry about them also.
 

Stephanie8806

Songster
Feb 18, 2019
495
619
191
Central Washington State
Hi. Although I live in a place where there are LOTS of hawks. A roof netting will definitely help, just make sure it’s sturdy and won’t collapse easily. If you have a rooster, roosters help alert hens. Add a lot of shady or hide-out spots for them. And Make sure their aren’t any nests or big trees nearby where you plan to move the main coop. Cause a hawk could easily camp out right next to a coop. My personal opinion is not to get decoys, cause that could just attract more predators. Lastly, lock your coop up at night and open on late morning, this helps with owls, if you worry about them also.

Well we aren’t moving the coop, just moving the chicken door to the other side of the coop to where it can be in the portion that we can completely enclose. The coop does get closed and locked at night. It’s very secure. The hawk entered through the chickens access door in the middle of the day to kill the second chicken. Cant exactly close their door all day.

I’m personally not convinced adding hiding spots will help much. Our entire 8x10 coop is elevated, about 24 inches off the ground, and the first chicken was killed under the coop and the hawk drug her out into the run to eat her head.

The netting will certainly be secured well. No worries there. That’s interesting about owls attracting other predators... how does that work? I hear owls and hawks are natural enemies, and I would think things like weasels would avoid birds of prey?
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,425
70,986
1,462
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
I have never had a hawk eat the head.

Owls yes, they love heads. Or at least the great horned owls that have entered the coop through the pop door, happily ate heads.

I have had predation from bald eagles, a coopers hawk, some other hawk, and a falcon tried. None of those ever touched the head.

The coopers hawk was scary since it was perched in the low branches of a spruce. It just jumped from the low branch onto a cockerel and tore off the side of his chest... at which point I ran up and interrupted. Supposedly that is what cooper hawks do... hide in low branches.

All of the rest of the hawks and eagles killed by diving down from the sky... except for a couple of bald eagles....

once a bald eagle actually flew down through the ONE 2x2 foot hole in the wire roof, and then hopped over to try to kill a duck.

And twice an eagle flew down, then hopped into my run (through the propped open people door, open for free range time) and ate a few chickens and ducks.

I have also had one hawk or eagle... can't remember now... bust through the fishnet top to try and kill a chicken. Busting through the net reduced the impact, and I saw it happen and ran and stopped before further injury happened.

One eagle tried the same thing and got tangled in the net, we had to free it.

So......

I now have that concrete reinforcing wire on the top of all of my runs.

It has huge holes, so a raccoon could crawl in... but eagles and hawks don't get it. The huge holes mean it doesn't hold much snow, it is very ridged so needs only minimal support and a snow load doesn't bust it.

If you don't want to go that way...

Fishnet tops are good until the snow tears them down... and string with surveyors tape hung along like streamers does greatly reduce arial predation.

But not with Owls... they could care less and are very Freddy Krueger-esk.
 

Missmaddymoo008

Chirping
Nov 27, 2020
26
53
54
Well we aren’t moving the coop, just moving the chicken door to the other side of the coop to where it can be in the portion that we can completely enclose. The coop does get closed and locked at night. It’s very secure. The hawk entered through the chickens access door in the middle of the day to kill the second chicken. Cant exactly close their door all day.

I’m personally not convinced adding hiding spots will help much. Our entire 8x10 coop is elevated, about 24 inches off the ground, and the first chicken was killed under the coop and the hawk drug her out into the run to eat her head.

The netting will certainly be secured well. No worries there. That’s interesting about owls attracting other predators... how does that work? I hear owls and hawks are natural enemies, and I would think things like weasels would avoid birds of prey?

At one time we had an owl decoy outside our run and couple days after there was a hawk sitting right next to it. I don't know if it knew if it was fake or what. That's just my personal story on decoys. And I did misunderstand your original post, sorry. And I didn't know that hawks would actually drag a chicken out of a coop, most of the time ( at least with me ) the hawk would never make a kill unless it was in a open space where it could grab-and-go.
Sorry🤐
 

Stephanie8806

Songster
Feb 18, 2019
495
619
191
Central Washington State
I have never had a hawk eat the head.

Owls yes, they love heads. Or at least the great horned owls that have entered the coop through the pop door, happily ate heads.

I have had predation from bald eagles, a coopers hawk, some other hawk, and a falcon tried. None of those ever touched the head.

The coopers hawk was scary since it was perched in the low branches of a spruce. It just jumped from the low branch onto a cockerel and tore off the side of his chest... at which point I ran up and interrupted. Supposedly that is what cooper hawks do... hide in low branches.

All of the rest of the hawks and eagles killed by diving down from the sky... except for a couple of bald eagles....

once a bald eagle actually flew down through the ONE 2x2 foot hole in the wire roof, and then hopped over to try to kill a duck.

And twice an eagle flew down, then hopped into my run (through the propped open people door, open for free range time) and ate a few chickens and ducks.

I have also had one hawk or eagle... can't remember now... bust through the fishnet top to try and kill a chicken. Busting through the net reduced the impact, and I saw it happen and ran and stopped before further injury happened.

One eagle tried the same thing and got tangled in the net, we had to free it.

So......

I now have that concrete reinforcing wire on the top of all of my runs.

It has huge holes, so a raccoon could crawl in... but eagles and hawks don't get it. The huge holes mean it doesn't hold much snow, it is very ridged so needs only minimal support and a snow load doesn't bust it.

If you don't want to go that way...

Fishnet tops are good until the snow tears them down... and string with surveyors tape hung along like streamers does greatly reduce arial predation.

But not with Owls... they could care less and are very Freddy Krueger-esk.


I appreciate this well thought out response.

Just taking the heads confused me too, but I’ve had several friends witness this behavior from hawks. As I understand it, it’s less about food and more about territory and eliminating a source of noise and commotion that interferes with hunting.

Down the road I will likely want a more permanent option, I like the idea of the concrete reinforcing panels. We don’t have raccoons out here(hard to believe, I know), we are soooo far out in the mountains and fairly remote, so we don’t get a lot of those large rodents that frequent more populated areas.

I know we have owls, but the chickens are inside the coop and secure at night.
 

Stephanie8806

Songster
Feb 18, 2019
495
619
191
Central Washington State
At one time we had an owl decoy outside our run and couple days after there was a hawk sitting right next to it. I don't know if it knew if it was fake or what. That's just my personal story on decoys. And I did misunderstand your original post, sorry. And I didn't know that hawks would actually drag a chicken out of a coop, most of the time ( at least with me ) the hawk would never make a kill unless it was in a open space where it could grab-and-go.
Sorry🤐

No worries! That’s why I’m asking about decoys and reflective tape, because I’ve read mixed reviews 🙂

Yeah the hawk pulled the one out the was under the coop, but left the one it killed inside the coop. It’s been a learning experience, to be sure.

I appreciate your time telling me about your experiences!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,701
143,894
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
owl decoys
full
 

Abriana

Spicy Sugar Cookie
Apr 26, 2017
5,126
56,626
1,217
Midgard
I have never had a hawk eat the head.

Owls yes, they love heads. Or at least the great horned owls that have entered the coop through the pop door, happily ate heads.

I have had predation from bald eagles, a coopers hawk, some other hawk, and a falcon tried. None of those ever touched the head.

The coopers hawk was scary since it was perched in the low branches of a spruce. It just jumped from the low branch onto a cockerel and tore off the side of his chest... at which point I ran up and interrupted. Supposedly that is what cooper hawks do... hide in low branches.

All of the rest of the hawks and eagles killed by diving down from the sky... except for a couple of bald eagles....

once a bald eagle actually flew down through the ONE 2x2 foot hole in the wire roof, and then hopped over to try to kill a duck.

And twice an eagle flew down, then hopped into my run (through the propped open people door, open for free range time) and ate a few chickens and ducks.

I have also had one hawk or eagle... can't remember now... bust through the fishnet top to try and kill a chicken. Busting through the net reduced the impact, and I saw it happen and ran and stopped before further injury happened.

One eagle tried the same thing and got tangled in the net, we had to free it.

So......

I now have that concrete reinforcing wire on the top of all of my runs.

It has huge holes, so a raccoon could crawl in... but eagles and hawks don't get it. The huge holes mean it doesn't hold much snow, it is very ridged so needs only minimal support and a snow load doesn't bust it.

If you don't want to go that way...

Fishnet tops are good until the snow tears them down... and string with surveyors tape hung along like streamers does greatly reduce arial predation.

But not with Owls... they could care less and are very Freddy Krueger-esk.
Interesting... our hawks always eats the head, unfortunately. The first one killed this week had her whole one side gone and her head. The second killed this week I ran out very soon after it happened, although not soon enough, but she hadn’t been picked at at all.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom