How to Get Rid of Hawks

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Hawks are majestic creatures who have served as both a bane and boon for humans throughout the ages. These raptors can snatch moving prey almost effortlessly from both ground and air.

While falconers train different kinds of raptor for beneficial reasons, wild hawks can be a dangerous foe to ranchers who breed smaller animals such as rabbits or chickens. Knowing how to get rid of hawks usually comes down to scaring them away and making your property less attractive to them.

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Getting to Know Hawks

At least 11 types of hawk can be found in the US, with at least 17 species throughout North America. They and their kin are dubbed “raptors” due to the sharp, curved talons on their feet. Depending upon the species, a hawk can range in weight from 4 ounces to 3 ¼ pounds.

Generally, hawks have grey to reddish-brown plumage along the top and lighter brown, yellow, or whitish plumage along the underside. The largest, a rough-legged hawk, has a length of 22 inches and a wingspan of 55 inches – making its width about the same as a child’s height!

Built to kill, a hawk’s beak can tear into meat easily, and their vision is approximately 8 times sharper than a human’s. Hawks are excellent fliers, able to soar for long distances at a time. When in a dive, their speed has been clocked at over 150 miles per hour, making it almost impossible for prey to escape.

What do Hawks Eat?

Depending on the species and circumstances, hawks will eat large insects (such as grasshoppers and June beetles), amphibians, small reptiles, rodents, and other small mammals or birds. Larger hawks have been known to carry away small pets or even baby livestock when wild food is scarce.

what do hawks eat?

How Much Can a Hawk Lift?

As a general rule, hawks cannot carry more than they weigh. When killing a chicken or other large animal, most hawks will slay it on the ground and eat it there. Red-tailed hawks are the most common in residential areas and can lift 4 to 5 pounds – about the weight of an adult rabbit.

Hawk vs Falcon

hawk vs falcon

While they might appear similar when perched, hawks and falcons have different wing shapes. The hawk’s is broad and best suited for diving from lower perches. Meanwhile, falcons use their sickle-shaped wings to dive long distances for their prey.

The way they kill prey is also different. Hawks use their talons to pierce vital organs, causing a slower and more painful death. Falcons instead use their speed to strike hard and fast, stunning the prey or even killing them instantly.

Hawk vs Eagle

hawk vs eagle

While close kin, there are a number of important differences between hawks and eagles. The most obvious difference is in size. Eagles are one of the largest birds of prey, while hawks are smaller and vary greatly in size. The powerful build of eagles allow them to snatch prey without landing, while hawks prefer quick strikes and will devour larger prey on the ground.

How to Scare Hawks Away from Your Yard

Hawks can cause a lot of problems when they deem something in your yard to be a potential food source. Thankfully, there are a lot of methods you can use to protect smaller animals in your yard.

What are Hawks Afraid of?

Due to their smaller size, it’s easier to scare hawks off than larger birds of prey. Loud sounds, large and violent gestures (do not try to hit the bird with anything), and using a deterrent will all scare a hawk out of your yard.

Using a Hawk Deterrent

owl statue for hawk controlThere are two types of deterrent you can use to keep hawks away. The first type is environmental. Prune branches and ensure the hawk has nowhere to perch. Removing bird feeders can also discourage hawks who are looking for an easy food source.

Physical deterrents are also useful. Building a scarecrow or placing a large owl statue in the yard will fool the hawk into thinking a predator might be present. Just be sure to move this physical deterrent around occasionally, as hawks are highly intelligent and will notice if the deterrent remains stationary for more than a couple days.

A Deer Chaser, while intended to keep deer away, may also work under certain circumstances.

See Also: How to Get Rid of Geese

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How to Keep Hawks Away from My Small Dog or Cat

While pretty rare, larger hawks have been known to attack toy breeds, cats, and other small pets. Having an enclosure with a roof can help protect the pet from attacks, although you will still have to watch to ensure the pet doesn’t escape your enclosure.

Do not use extendable leashes when walking your pet in an area known to have hawks. Keeping them closer to you means you can grab your pet and shield it while heading indoors.

Raptor Shields – A good way to protect your pet is to buy a raptor shield. This is a sturdy canvas cover that fits over your pet’s back and straps around the underside. The material shields the back and neck, making it impossible for a bird of prey to get a grip on your pet.

keep hawks away from dog

How to Keep Hawks Away from Bird Feeders

Bird feeders can attract a wide variety of wildlife to your backyard. Unfortunately, this also means attractive predators. The following tips will help keep songbirds and other wanted species safe.

Avoid Windows

Placing the feeder too close to windows can do more harm than good. A panicked bird will likely fly into the glass while trying to escape.

Emergency Shelter

Placing the feeder near bushes or enclosed structures will give sparrows, finches, and other birds a place to hide if a hawk targets the feeder.

Feeder Cages

Using wire cages around the feeders will allow songbirds to safely get to the food while making it difficult for predators and other large critters from getting at the seed or suet. The downside is that this method will also block cardinals, which are known to protect songbirds from jays and other threats.

How to Keep Hawks Away from Chickens

Three species of hawk have earned the name “Chicken hawk” due to their attacks on chickens. These are red-tailed, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks. The good news is there are several ways to protect your chickens – many of which you never thought of.

keep hawks away from chickens

Ground Cover

Having a raised coop, deck, or shrubs that your chickens can hang out under makes for both safe and happy fowl. They’ll often congregate in the shade to cool off, but will also have a place to hide if a predator appears.

Guard Dogs

A large breed dog that gets on well with your chickens can be an excellent deterrent from not only birds of prey, but other predators. Just make sure not to keep a schedule when letting the dog out if it’s an indoor dog. Letting them out at random will ensure the hawks remain cautious.


Believe it or not, chickens are pretty intelligent, and roosters can be very protective. Whether you raise free-range chickens in an urban or rural setting, roosters will scan for birds of prey and guard chickens actively as long as a potential threat is present. Not all roosters are excellent guards, so try to get one that exhibits protective qualities.


A good scarecrow can protect against a wide range of crop-killing pests, but can also protect against birds of prey. You can also use an owl statue. Just be sure to move them around every few days, because hawks do pay attention and pick up on tricks quickly. Note that it’s best to use these deterrents alongside other methods for the best results.

Shiny Things

While some species, such as crows, love to collect shiny objects, hawks and other birds of prey will see a flash of light and think it’s food. Flying into a pie tin is very frustrating, so hawks may eventually look elsewhere for less metallic meals.

Can I Shoot a Hawk Attacking my Chickens?

Most birds of prey are protected in the US by Federal law due to their vital role in controlling other pests. Injuring or killing a hawk can lead to fines or worse. Note that there are exceptions for migratory birds of prey merely on the “Do Not Disturb” list, but it requires a special permit which can be difficult to obtain.

How to Attract Hawks (For Other Pest Control)

how to attract hawksWhile we’ve spent most of this article talking about hawks as pests, there is another side to the coin. Many cities have imported red-tailed hawks to help control the rock dove (AKA pigeon) population. You can also make use of local hawks to take care of a variety of pest problems.

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The Garden

Attracting hawks to your garden can help eliminate all sorts of garden pests, from rodents to some insects. Sure, you will have to give up attracting songbirds, but the payoff might be worth it. Providing ample nesting and perching areas will give the hawks a spot to attack from, and keeping noisy people or animals out of the garden can help make the garden more attractive.

The Yard

Having a section of your yard with tall grasses or other flexible ground cover will encourage all kinds of mice and rodents to congregate in those areas. Hawks make for fantastic mouse repellents. You can also build nesting boxes to encourage hawks to stick around. Just make sure to have a bird feeder or other source of water available.


  1. Hawks are always attacking my birds in backyard so I try to put seed underneath bushes to avoid a prime target, sometimes I use party poppers to scare them away! They are pretty fearless.

  2. I have so many different little ones needing the seed and fat but came home and spotted a hawk or falcon on my umbrella near the feeder. Little ones sing joyously in the morning. Big birds too I watch waiting on a higher roof even after dark.

  3. I lost one chicken 5 wks ago to a hawk , the first time in 5 yrs of having chickens . He returned the next day looking for more and I ran after him clanging two garbage can Lids together. I used long strips of baling twine and red strips of fabric and flagged from fences to trees as much as I could and in the open area I took 3 , 7 foot apple tree cages and flag those in the area that the yard is open I’ve seen the hawk twice but I still have all my chickens . we do have a rooster and the other girls do respond to his call. From a distance I do believe the white chicken stand out for a Hawk’s View

    • I feel the same way. Only differences is. I have 2 little Shih Tzu’s. One is 15 pounds and the other is only 9 pounds. I have 2 hawks that fly around in my back yard and hide(try) in the trees. I live in the suburbs. And I told my husband it has one time to land in my yard and it will be dead.

      • I just had a hawk attack my shih tzu in my front yard with me standing there. I called the police and asked what I can do , they said call the game commission so I did, they told me to call the police. I told the police I’m gonna shoot it and they said do what you have to.

      • It sounds as if your local game commission isn’t very well trained. I would suggest calling the state office and explaining the situation, then making sure it’s okay to shoot the hawk. In the event the hawk has protected status, they’ll make sure someone from the local office actually addresses the situation (and will likely hover over the employees there for a while to ensure they do their job).

        As shooting a protected critter can lead to heavy fines or worse, it’s always best to take these precautions. The state office might even issue you a one-time permit if the local office is unwilling to assist.

        We’d love to hear if and how this gets resolved, as incidents of raptors attacking small dogs are not uncommon.

      • Kathy,
        I understand your frustration!
        I got my elderly mom a puppy Shihtzu/yorkie right before Covid19. He has been a blessing for her do to this difficult time. I knew her neighbor had a Hawk nest. I was working in her yard and the Hawk came swooping over the roof down at the 10month old dog 10lbs. As I was standing there. I was watering flowers and was shocked too close. Luckily, Hawk didn’t get him. But landed in the tree staring at the dog. Not fazed I was started to spray it with water. Hawk flew off. Unfortunately, Hawks are PROTECTED under the LAW so it’s not worth killing and getting arrested. I am going to buy a protected vest and things to deter them. I have told my mom to go out with him. But there is no guarantee. I live in the mtn and have Shihtzu/Pomeranian 3.5lb dog so I am really careful do to Mountain lion, bobcats, moose etc.
        Our dogs are family. Just like our children we have to take precautions to protect them from the World!

  4. The bird kill my sweet Bunny, hopefully he did not eat. My Bunny Lop Holland was received more love and care till he die. I hate the bird but is the Cycle. Wherever is awful and I’m glad he did not eat my bunny.

  5. I have a 8 lb white dog malti-poo a hawk swooped down into my little yard, but my cattle dog barked and leapt off the ground and stopped it! I was watering brave hawk! It just flew over us again tonight has anyone used a decoy? Owl figure etc?

  6. We have had a problem with hawks for the last couple years in our subdivision with lots of trees and bushes. They have pretty much eliminated all of our birds – saw a hawk chase a rabbit underneath a car this weekend and the hawk when under the car! They perch on the porch railings – one was on top of my car this morning. They are very vocal and loud all the time. We have seen 4. Any ideas of what we can do – they perch high up in our trees so I don’t think a scarecrow or anything would work. It is just sad. Now my dog is petrified of the sound they make.

    • Wow. Very similar to what’s going on around where I live here in Oklahoma. I wonder if this is seasonal? Is there a time of the year (winter perhaps?) where they migrate to warmer climates?

      Like South America maybe?

      • I live in Jacksonville, FL and it seems like every September-October the hawks come to our area and are all over the place. Two years ago I was dog sitting my sisters chihuahua while she was getting married in TN and a hawk got her dog while she was in my backyard. It was devastating and makes my stomach turn every time I think about it. I know it’s the circle of life but I cannot stand hawks. I watched them chase 5 ducks yesterday. I have 4 dogs, 2 of which are under 10lbs and I am so scared they are going to get snatched. I have 2 fake owls that I move around from different fence posts and also have a loud windchime that hopefully keeps them away. I hate that my dogs can’t roam free in their own backyard. I’m thinking about adding a scarecrow to see if that helps any.

      • It’s usually an uphill battle, especially in an urban or suburban area, but you could try to talk to your local code enforcement office and request permission to add a chicken wire “roof” to your yard. Under normal circumstances, fences have a height limit, but they may be willing to negotiate a solution. Such enclosures can also be helpful if you have a garden and wish to keep critters from munching on your berry bushes. In the event they’re unwilling to enclose the whole yard, you should at least be able to get a permit to build an enclosed dog run.

        Please update us on the results if you request permission to build an enclosure, as it could potentially be of help to a lot of other readers.

  7. Common for Hawks to take cats and small dogs here in San Diego. I have heard horror stories. Now a family is living real close in the park trees. I hear them screeching constantly. I’m afraid for my toy breed doggies that sun during the day. Going to buy an owl decoy & build a scare crow.

  8. Start a small chiminea fire in your back yard. They hate the smoke because it disorients them. Scarecrows also work wonders, but you have to move them frequently

  9. Hawks have been preying on squirrels and rabbits in my yard. I found a squirrel carcass on my lawn and bits of a rabbit in a water bowl I placed for birds. I understand hawks have to eat but its very heartbreaking when the pick off small mammals that live in the yard!! What to do?! The garden has become a place of horrors.

    • Just a little tid bit for ya….hawks AND raccoons clean their food before they eat it…so, your bird water basin is perfect for their dining experience ;/

  10. I’m not sure whether it makes a difference or not, but I keep brightly colored little shirts on my Yorkies to try and prevent them from looking like a food source. Have some rather large hawks constantly visiting my yard.

  11. could someone please contact me and give me advice on how to rid my yard of red tail hawks that kill my pigeons to the tune of one a month ??….who can I call to try to get permission to deal with the hawks — there has to be a way…please — give me a contact number. I live in Southern Florida. Thanks, Carl.


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