Hawk attacks are common among poultry, especially smaller, bantam breeds and young birds. Several hawk species are known to prey upon chickens and sometimes ducks and turkeys---the most troublesome are the larger, more aggressive species, such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii). Red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) on occasion prey upon poultry. Northern harriers (Circus cyaneus) sometimes prey on ducks and other waterfowl.
A hawk will silently perch nearby and watch your flock from a distance. When it decides to capture its next prey, it will descend rapidly onto the birds from above, and capture them with its feet. A hawk will usually only kill one bird per day. Hawks pluck birds, leaving piles of feathers on the ground, as they do not like to eat feathers. Beak marks can sometimes be seen on the shafts of these plucked feathers. They may also take the heads off of poultry if given the chance to snatch them through netting.
In the United States, all hawks are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC, 703-711). These laws strictly prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks without a special permit. In addition, most states have regulations regarding hawks. Some species may be common in one state but may be on a state endangered species list in another.
Eliminate hawk stalking areas : Hawks often survey an area from a perch prior to making an attack. Eliminate perch sites within 100 yards (90 m) of your birds by removing large, isolated trees and other perching surfaces.
Cap poles : using sheet metal cones, Nixalite, Cat Claws, or inverted spikes.
Overhead protection : Install supported, fully stretched, overhead protective bird netting that is strong enough to support the weight and force exerted by a large hawk or owl without collapsing the entire system. Use garage frames to help support the netting.
- Light reflecting objects : Hang up CDs with a fishing line from tree branches or any place near the coop where they can spin in the wind. The reflecting sunlight will help deter hawks from going near the coop.
- Holiday decorations : Hang up Christmas tinsel along the chicken coop.
- Scarecrow : Constructing a scarecrow near your birds may be effective if they are regularly moved and used in conjunction with shotgun fire or pyrotechnics.