Eagles attacking chicken flocks is a rare sight. It’s because they live furthest away from human habitation. But it’s a different matter for hawks.
It’s not that embarrassing to ask, do hawks eat chicken? Obviously, they eat chicken. As some hawks live near urban areas and hunt during the daytime, they often attack chickens. Mostly, they attack baby and bantam chickens.
Yes, a hawk can’t fly away with an adult chicken. But you know this by now, they are opportunistic creatures. If you want to prevent hawk attacks, you need to understand how they hunt chicken flocks first. And today, we are explaining just that.
Do Hawks Pose Threat to Chickens?
The answer to this question depends on the region you live in and the type of hawk. Well, there are some hawk species living near and inside rural areas. Some common hawk species are often seen roaming around a chicken poultry farm.
And yes, they pose a high-level threat to your chicken flock. To be honest, land predators are much more common than hawk attacks. However, hawks snatch a chicken hatchling or mid-sized chicken when they find an opportunity.
And when the attack comes from above, there’s only little option to prevent such attacks. No matter the difficulty, chicken owners have to keep the chicken flock safe.
Here are three facts you should know:
Can a Hawk Fly Away with Your Chicken?
Even the largest hawk can’t fly away with adult chickens. But that doesn’t mean your chicken’s safe. Hawks target small chickens or chicken pullets. These aerial predators weigh just around 3 to 4 lbs.
On the other hand, adult chickens weigh around 5 to 7 pounds. So, they can’t carry a whole chicken into the air even after having sharp talons.
That’s why their primary targets are the baby chickens.
Can a Hawk Kill an Adult Chicken?
Even if the hawks can’t pick up a full-grown chicken, it can kill them. Hawks use their sharp talons to kill prey. And you can guess what sharp talons can do. If they can’t fly away with larger chicken, they rip apart chunks of the chicken.
Usually, a hungry hawk attacks larger prey and rips a chunk of meat. This way, the prey will get weak. And finally, they eat the dead animal.
Besides that, hawks usually attack a larger chicken and rip chunks of meat from them. This way, they can take food to baby hawks.
Which Hawks Kill Chicken?
It’s pretty common for predatory birds to attack chicken yards. But when the hawk attack is going on a regular basis, it’s a problem. Now, which type of hawk attacks chicken during daylight hours depends on the region.
Here’s a list of hawks that often attacks chicken coop:
- Red-tailed hawk
- Harris’s Hawk
- Cooper’s Hawk
A recent study shows raptors are starting to live near urban areas. They mostly feed on songbirds. But they also attack chicken flocks.
How Does a Hawk Kill Chicken?
Just like any bird of prey, hawks have a specific approach to hunting in different situations. They have keen eyesight. So, it’s easy for them to keep track of the prey. Birds of prey will attack when there’s an opportunity.
So, what are their hunting behaviors?
Hawks follow different strategies to attack. Let’s have a look at the hunting patterns hawks follow to kill chickens:
This is a common hunting strategy for hawks. And you can easily spot if the hawk is looking to attack or not. In this strategy, the hawk will soar high in the sky.
Mainly, it’s looking for an opportunity to swoop in and fly with the chicken. When a baby or small breed of chicken runs, the hawk swoops in and carries them away.
Why is this strategy a sure kill for them? It’s because while soaring in the sky, the bird of prey can keep a close eye on the food source as well as stay ready to attack.
Hawks always use their talons to kill. So, they can eat the chicken mid-air. Also, the hawk can make a sudden attack to rip apart flesh from large chickens.
Perch and Swoop Hunting Strategy
This is a hunting strategy where the hawk doesn’t need to fly in the air. Instead, the hawk chooses a prominent tree or post to sit. They analyze the area from the sitting position and wait for an opportunity.
And when they find an opportunity, they swoop in a bright flash. This hunting strategy adds a little element of surprise. It’s because we often forget to look at our surroundings that closely. That’s why the hawk can stay hidden.
Why do they use this strategy? They use this tactic if they ever find any obstacle, like the poultry owner staring them down with a gun. Pretty smart!
How to Keep Chicken Safe from Hawk Attack?
Only the flock owners can prevent hawk attacks. What can they do to keep chickens safe? Let us help you with some suggestions:
Surround the Chicken Yard
First, you need to surround the chicken yard with bird spikes, aviary netting, or reflective tape. This way, you can prevent their high soaring strategy. Especially, reflective tape can surprise even their keen eyes.
Get a Rooster
Roosters make a perfect bodyguard for your chickens. They can detect a potential threat and instantly alert all the hen. Roosters even engage in fights with hawks to protect the chickens.
Watch this video, and you will get a demonstration of a roosters bravery:
Use Owl Decoy
Hawks are scared of owls and Eagles. So, you can use an owl decoy to scare them off.
Get a Guard Dog
Getting a guard dog will certainly help you if you have a backyard chicken flock. Dogs can easily wear off hawk attacks and keep your chicken safe.
Frequently Asked Question
Here are answers to some questions we often face regarding the subject topic:
Yes, it will come back. Just as we said, hawks seek opportunity. If all the chickens in the flock are the same size, the hawk will come back to make another easy swoop.
Of course, it can. A bantam chicken weighs just around 2 to 3 lbs. So, a large-sized hawk can quickly swoop in and fly away with it.
No. Almost every country has regulatory restrictions on killing birds of prey. So, you can’t kill them even if they threaten your backyard chickens.
Only the poultry owner has the ability to prevent hawk attacks. As US Wildlife Regulation clearly states, you cannot kill hawks. So, you just have to take preventive measures. In order to do so, you need to know do hawks eat chicken and how they do it. Once you grasp the answer to that question, it’s easy to come up with preventive measures.
Do you want to know if hawks eat coyotes or hummingbirds? Read our articles about it to learn more.