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Hawks are a menace to backyard birders, and for good reason. They can eat up to one-third of the birds in an entire flock, which is why it’s important that we learn how to deter hawks from my backyard birds! In this blog post, you’ll find out exactly how hawks hunt their prey, what they like about your yard (other than the easy meals), and some tips on how you can protect your feathered friends.

What Hawks Are in the Yard

Hawks are masters of the sky. They fly high, waiting for their prey to come into view before swooping down and grabbing them for a quick meal. Hawks hunt by sight – they can spot something from 500 feet in the air! This means that if any small animals enter your yard, hawks won’t have any trouble spotting them.

This leads to the question, what kind of hawks are in your yard? There are two types – red-tailed and Cooper’s. 

The red-tails have long tails that give them their name; they’re also larger than a Cooper’s Hawk. 

Coopers’ Hawks have shorter tail feathers, which is how they get their name. They’re smaller than red-tails, but still a formidable bird. 

Cooper’s hawks are more common in the Northern United States, while Red-tailed Hawks make their homes throughout North America.

The problem with these birds of prey is that they can snatch up a small animal like a songbird before anyone even sees them do it!

Sometimes the hawks will be in your yard on a regular basis, but other times they’ll only come once every few weeks.

What Do Hawks Eat?

People often worry about what a hawk can actually eat but they can not carry off a full-grown human. They will struggle to fly with anything that outweighs them so your cat and dog should be safe.

They have a strong preference for eating smaller animals though, so if you do spot one in your yard it’s probably because they’ve just been hunting and not that they’re making themselves at home there!

Here are some things that a hawk are likely to target:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Insects
  • Rabbits
  • Voles
  • Squirrels
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Turtles
  • Small poultry
  • Birds

Your backyard may not just offer an easy meal it may be the perfect home if you’re a hawk! A quiet backyard with tall trees for them to sit in and watch for prey. Also, tall trees are the perfect place for hawks to build their nests which is not a nice surprise for people who are looking to have trees in their yard.

Protecting Backyard Birds From Hawks

To protect backyard birds from hawks, you will need to make it more difficult for them. There are a few things that can be done depending on the type of bird you have in your yard and what attracts their prey as well. We don’t want to cause any harm to the hawk just make it more difficult for them to find prey.

Provide Shelter. 

The best way to protect backyard birds from hawks is to provide them with shelter. This can be done by planting trees and shrubs around the perimeter of your yard, so that they cannot see outside as well. If you have a fence on the edge of your property line, make sure it is at least six feet tall and has no gaps or openings for hawks to get through.

Shield Feeders. 

If you leave seed feeders out in the open, they are not protected by anything but thin wire mesh. Therefore, it is advised to suspend them from a tree branch or hang them on wires between two trees at least 18 inches apart so that hawks cannot get close enough for easy access to prey without some effort and time invested in hunting.

Avoid Ground Feeding Backyard Birds. 

If you have a ground feeder like a dog dish or chicken coup, make sure that it is not placed on the ground. If this is your only option and if hawks are becoming too much of an issue, consider placing netting over these food sources to protect them from being snatched up in mid-air by an experienced hawk. Feeding birds in the backyard on the lawn offers the perfect opportunity for hawks to snare them in the vicinity of your home and some can even be snatched up on the ground.

Remove Hawk Vantage Points.

It is important to remove any trees and posts where hawks can perch and watch for prey. You may not be able to do this if the tree belongs to a neighbor, but you should try your best as it will help deter them from coming back.

Remove Hawk Food Sources.

If you feed birds in the backyard on the lawn, make sure to keep it covered with a net so that hawks cannot snatch up any of your feathered friends. Placing traps out so you keep rodents to a minimum will also help.

Cage Feeders.

If you have a bird feeder in the backyard, make sure it is covered with netting. A cage feeder can also be used to keep birds safe from predators. You want to buy bird feeders with wire cages that will keep predators out.

Protect Windows.

Window collations are where hawks will perch and watch for prey. If you have a problem with them, try placing decals of eyes on the outside of your windows to deter birds from coming in.

Remove Feeders.

If you find yourself in a situation where the hawks are not leaving your yard, remove any feeders from your property. While this may sound strange it may be the only option to rid the hawk. After a week or two, you can slowly reintroduce the feeders back to your property. This will give the birds a chance to return and rebuild their population in safety.

Install a Decoy.

In some cases, a decoy can do the job of deterring hawks from your property. If you want to try this method before removing any feeders be sure to place it away enough for the hawk not to notice that it’s fake. You want a decoy that is prey to the hawk so find something that the hawk will think is dangerous like an owl.

Use Noise Deterrents. 

Some noise deterrents work better for others. If you have a small backyard, try screeching tapes or speakers that will imitate prey. For those with larger yards, startle the hawk by using an air horn or loud noises to make them fly away from your property.

Tactics to Avoid

While we want to get rid of hawks from the backyard to protect the backyard birds. We should avoid things like trapping or shooting these birds of prey.

These are not options and in many states, it is not legal and can carry heavy fines even imprisonment.

When Hawks Won’t Leave

If these steps don’t work, contact your nearest wildlife control agency for help with removing and relocating hawks away from your backyard birds. They have more expertise and can generally solve the problem quickly than waiting it out on our own. They will be licensed to deal with the problem and will know how to handle it appropriately. 

FAQ’s How to Deter Hawks From My Backyard Birds 

People have many questions when it comes to hawks in their backyard, we have answered some of the most common questions. 

Will owl decoy keep hawks away?

If you want to protect your prey, a hawk decoy is an excellent investment. Life-size, realistic-looking owl decoys that make erratic movement are the most effective at scaring away hawks and other predators.

What birds are hawks afraid of?

The number one predator of hawks is the eagle. This ensures that there are more hawks to prey on other small animals, such as mice and squirrels. The crows and owls do not have any natural predators so they pick on hawk for sport because it’s easy with their quick movements in trees

How big of a dog can a hawk pick up?

The hawk is not strong enough to carry away a 12-pound pet. The hawks in North America are at most four pounds, so it would be impossible for them to leave the ground with three – let alone twelve – and still stay airborne.

What time of day do hawks hunt?

Hawks are the most active in early AM to mid-morning and again during the late afternoon, especially when it’s summer. The hawks hunt all day if they can find food but mostly attack prey at dawn. They’re opportunistic and flexible so you might see one of them hunting a different type of animal than normal or attacking from an unusual angle!

Can I shoot a hawk attacking my dog?

Be aware that it is illegal to harm, capture or kill a raptor. This includes harming your pet as well and could lead to consequences including jail time and heavy fines.