Do Hawks Eat Chickens? 7 Ways To Protect Them

Hawks are one of the most dangerous birds of prey. These birds are not only strong, but they are very intelligent. They prey on everything such as rodents, rabbits, and fish. What about chickens? Do hawks eat chickens too?

So, do hawks eat chickens? Hawks do eat chickens, and they pose a serious threat to them. Chickens that are allowed to free roam will be most vulnerable. Hawks are strong and with their sharp talons, they can kill and lift the chicken away in seconds. 

What Time Of Day Do Hawks Hunt?

Most species of hawks are diurnal, which means they are active during the day. At night, they tend to not be very active and sleep throughout the night.

In the early morning and late in the evening is when the hawks are the most active hunting for prey. During this time of the day, they can hunt in a more concealed, and secretive way.

However, they will hunt during the day as well. If there is a chicken that seems like easy prey, the hawk will attack and kill it.

What time of the year also plays an important role in their hunting. During the summer, hawks are known to be more active in the early am to mid-morning. Also, they will hunt actively in the late afternoon.

In the winter and colder months, hawks are more active during the day.

What Species Of Hawks Eat Chickens?

There are about 25 species that are found in North America. Out of the 25 species, only the Coopers, Red-Tailed, and Red-shouldered hawks appear to be more interested in chickens.

Each of these hawk sub-species has evolved to adapt and survive in different environments in the U.S. However, hawks are known to primarily found in woodland and forest area.

How Does A Hawk Kill A Chicken?

When it comes to killing a chicken, hawks have a very specific approach. They will perch on a branch nearby and wait for the right moment where they will quickly swoop down and kill the chicken on impact.

Hawks are equipped with sharp talons that are able to kill the chicken or any prey quickly. From there, they will haul the chicken back to their nest.

Younger or smaller chickens will be easy for the hawks to carry back to the nest.

On the other hand, for larger chickens, if they can’t haul them away, the hawks will eat them at the spot of the kill. Hawks will often eat the breast first since it’s the meatiest part of the chicken.

If they don’t feel safe while eating the chicken, they will try to bite parts of the chicken and haul it off.

Nevertheless, a hawk will spend time moving from tree to tree before swooping down quickly for an imminent strike.

Hawks like to hunt undetected and plan carefully before they attack their prey.

Will A hawk Repeatedly Come Back For Chickens?

Hawks are known to come back to hunt for chickens at the same location if they are successful the first time. They will try to find the quickest and easiest meal.

The bird of prey is known to be one of the most intelligent bird species. They are able to plan their attack with precision. This what makes hawks very dangerous.

There are many backyard chicken owners that claim they have sighted the same hawks flying over the chickens several times. They do this to figure a way to get into the chicken coop.

If you live in an area where there are hawks around, the chances of them returning more than once is high. Hawks know chickens make an easy meal for them, so they will spend a lot of time scouting the area and waiting for the right moment to attack and kill the chickens.

How Do You Protect Chickens From Hawks?

Unfortunately, using a firearm or any weapons to kill a hawk is against the law. These birds of prey are protected by federal laws which makes it illegal to shoot, trap, or kill them.

Therefore, you’re only left with options other than killing them. Below are some effective ways to protect your chickens against hawks:

Cover The Run

Hawks are aerial predators, so it’s a good idea the coop and runs are covered.

You can purchase a new cover or construct one yourself at home. The material used to construct them can be orange netting or galvanized hardware cloth.

Either way, this is a great way to deter the hawks from being able to swoop down to attack your chickens.

Remove Any Perch Sites

Hawks are great hunters as they tend to plan out their attack first. This means that they will move from tree to tree or objects to wait for the right moment to swoop down.

By removing at perch sites that are around your coop, the hawks will have nowhere to perch and wait.

This could mean cutting down tall trees, removing branches from trees, or just generally removing anything that could allow the hawks to perch on.

Keep The Chicken Flock In The Coop

There is nothing better than letting your chicken free-range and forage for food. This helps keep them active and prevents them from getting stressed.

However, this can have the opposite effect if there are hawks around the chicken often.

Chickens roaming in the yard freely are an easy target for hawks. They are able to swoop down and kill a chicken within seconds.

To prevent this from happening, a good way is to connect a covered run to their coop. This way, the chicken can still range and forage for food as usual.

Although their range will be limited, it’s much safer for them especially when hawks are all around them.

Another option would be to use a tractor, which is a moveable run. This allows you to move the run around different areas of the yard.

Cover Feeders

Hawks are one of the most intelligent birds of prey. Some hawks will actually wait until the chickens are feeding.

When the chickens are feeding, they are vulnerable as they will have their heads down. The hawks know this and will swoop down quickly for an easy meal.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to cover the feeders. You can construct them yourself using hardware cloth.

Have A Rooster

If you don’t have a rooster already, it may be a good idea to one or even two, depending on how large the flocks are.

Rooster has an instinct to protect their flocks from danger. This means if there is a threat from a hawk, the rooster will crow loudly to alert the chickens.

The loud sound will give the chicken time to run for cover. Also, it will be enough to cause the hawk to lose interest and find food elsewhere.

Have a Guard Dog

A guard dog is a great way to keep the hawks at bay. However, make sure to get a breed that will protect the flock and not look at chickens as food.

Livestock guardian dogs such as the Great Pyrenees are a great option. This breed has been used for hundreds of years to protect chickens.

Another breed that is popular in the United States is the Anatolian Shepherd. This breed is a good choice if you live in hotter climates.

There are many other breeds of dogs to protect your flocks. One thing for sure is to always train them first. If not they will not know what to do and could end up killing your chickens.

Visual Deterrents

Sometimes, placing a scarecrow around the chicken coop will prevent the hawk from getting too close. However, these birds of prey are intelligent creatures and will soon learn it’s just a decoy.

To ensure the scarecrow is effective, you should move it around from time to time. This will cause the hawk to think it’s a real human and will likely swoop down to try to attack the chickens.

Some people have even gone further and add motorized arms to make the scarecrow appear to be a real person.


Hawks will eat chickens whenever they get a chance to. Chickens are full of nutrition that the hawks need to stay strong and healthy.

Therefore, a hawk is a serious threat to chickens. You should do as much as you can to protect your chickens from these predators. They will keep coming back until there are no chickens left.

Since hawks are a protected species, it’s important not to kill them. Instead, use the methods above to protect your chickens from hawks.