When Do Hawks Hunt Chickens?

If you got chickens and what to protect them from all sorts of predators it can be tricky

Especially with hawks

Now if you are wondering – When do hawks hunt chicken?

Here’s the answer..

While most hawks attack chickens around morning. However, hawks are opportunistic predators and will hunt whenever they can. Still, hawks prefer defenseless and surprised victims. And so, they will prey on a chicken going through her routine, when she is neither alert nor much active. 

In this article we’re going to go into much detail about this

What are you going to discover?

Here’s the topics

  • What time of day do hawks usually hunt?
  • Will a hawk attack a full grown chicken?
  • Will a hawk keep coming back for chickens?
  • Can you shoot a hawk for attacking your chickens?
  • How to stop hawks from attacking your chickens?

You’re going to discover pretty much everything about hawks hunting chickens to how you can protect your chickens from hawks

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

When Do Hawks Hunt? 

Hawks normally hunt from the first light to mid-morning, and then in the late evening.

You see, hawks are diurnal raptors that cannot hunt in the dark.

Despite that, hawks have excellent vision and choose to hunt in dim lights, when prey cannot see clearly.

Which means, most hawk attacks occur around dawn or dusk. 

Since nearly all chicken owners allow their hens to free-range in the morning.

Consequently, the majority of hens leisurely forage before noon.


Most hawks attack the chickens in a narrow window, say 9 -11 am. 

That said, the hawks are quite the flexible raptors and can even hunt the entire day.

This is particularly common in winters when prey is scarce.

Or, during the migratory season, when hawks must travel long distances.

In summers, hawks hunt in the morning and then, stay perched until late evening.

However, a hawk rarely ever allows easy prey to leave. And so,

If a chicken is being too casual even around noon, the hawk will make time for her in his busy schedule. And will eat that pretty little thing.

New poultry owners often ask:

Will a Hawk Attack a Full Grown Chicken?

It certainly will.

Typically, a hawk swoops down, grabs the hen, and flies to its nest. 

All this happens within seconds.

Therefore, a hawk attack usually means just “a missing chicken”.

However, an average hawk can lift only about 3-pounds.

So, if a fully grown chicken is heavier than that,


The hawk may make a calculated move to devour the chicken on spot. 

Usually, such a hunt involves a hawk decapitating the chicken with its sharp talons.

The raptor will then cleanly pluck out feathers and eat the meaty portions.

If the chicken remains are messy, then perhaps the hawk only scavenged an already dead chicken. 

Since preying on a burly chicken can be quite challenging. 

Only extremely hungry, inexperienced, or young male hawks tend to target fully grown chickens. 

Even so, hawk hunting a chicken is a reasonably common sight.

So much so that in North America, three entirely different hawk species are often referred to as “Chickenhawks”. These include:

1. Sharp-Shinned Hawks

These hawks live in forests or swamps and have wings specialized for maneuvering through tree branches.

Unlike other hawks, sharp-shinned hawks tend to store prey for later nibbling.

And so, 

A chicken is but a whole meal for the entire day. 

2. Cooper’s Hawks

These inhabit deciduous forests and have plenty of prey available.

However, compared to lizards and small birds, a chicken from a farm is an easier and more fulfilling target.

3. Red-Tailed Hawks

These have wings specialized for soaring and can live in relatively open spaces e.g. deserts, grasslands, and pastures.

But in such areas, prey is hard to come by.

And so, 

These hawks find chicken farms as usual hunting spots.

Will a Hawk Keep Coming Back For Chickens?

It surely will, especially if the chickens reside in that hawk’s territory.

Generally, hawks avoid human areas.

However, if a hawk runs out of prey options, it will likely transgress the supposed boundaries.

For that reason, hawks attacking chickens is chiefly reported in winters or during migratory season.

While a migrating hawk may not return for more chickens, a hawk living in the area certainly will.

Occasionally, traveling hawks settle down around some bird feeder or chicken coop.

This mostly happens when hunting a chicken is easier than other wild animals.

If a hawk is hunting your chicken, you need to discourage them. 

Now if you see a hawk by your area and you got chickens

I’m sure you would want to protect them

And I know you would do all you can in your power to do this

So a question may arise which is..

Can I Shoot a Hawk Attacking My Chickens?

Absolutely not.

Hawks are legally protected under “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA)” which prohibits anyone from trapping, hunting, harming, shooting, caging, or poisoning the hawks.

The violation can result in massive fines up to $15000 or imprisonment, with charges of a misdemeanor. 

Besides, hawks are innocent raptors.

They hunt chickens out of natural instincts. 

Though you cannot shoot a hawk, you can discourage the hawks from coming to your farm. 

Or as I like to say it, you can make the hawk chicken out rather than out with the chickens.

Now let’s look at how you can stop hawks attacking your chickens..

How To Protect Chickens From Hawks?

You may do so by:

1. Covering the Chicken Spaces

Most hawk attacks happen when the chickens are foraging in the open.

And so, hawk attacks can be easily prevented by covering the chicken areas. So, 

  1. Cover the chicken runs with hardware cloth or buy a moveable chicken tractor. The covering meshwork gaps should never exceed ½ inch diameter.
  2. Put metal sheets above chicken feeders.
  3. If you are using netting, make sure it is tight enough to resist hawks.
  4. I suggest getting bright-colored orange covers that will dissuade the hawk to hunt chickens in the first place.

Getting double sheeted cages will protect the chickens from being killed through cage holes.

Some farmers electrocute the outer cover to stun chicken predators; however, I don’t recommend electrocution.

2. Getting a Guardian Animal

  1. Roosters are natural hawk repellents that make a ruckus on spotting a hawk. They alert and escort the chickens to safety. Thereby, hawks don’t bother flocks with a rooster.
  2. Trained dogs like Great Pyrenees will not only protect the chicken but may also attack a persistent hawk. Besides most hawks don’t like the dog smell and will avoid such an area. 
  3. Donkeys and Guinea fowls also deter hawks.

3. Using Intense Light

Hawks avoid places with glare or shiny surfaces. You can repel hawks by:

  1. Using reflective surfaces as aluminum foil, or reflective tape.
  2. Hanging old CDs and mirrors around trees. 
  3. Installing light rods that can create light illusions.

4. Making Excessive Noise

Hawks get irritated with excessive noise. So, try using wind chimes, radio, or some other means.

But make sure to change the noise patterns every few days.

5. Employing Decoys

Hawks avoid areas with owls.

And so, you can deter hawks by using life-sized owl statues or scarecrows.

But to make them believable, you must keep changing their positions.

6. Removing Perches

Ideally, the nearest perch should be at least 9meters away from the chicken coop.

Since hawks stay perched and jump-dive to hunt, this distance will buy your chickens some time to run and hide. 

7. Creating Shelters

The presence of shrubby plants will allow the chickens to evade a diving hawk.

Besides, chicken shelters should be big enough to not get crowded.

Remove the sick and dying chickens from the shelters, as they attract more predators.

Keeping the chicken locked up during the night, can also help avoid hawk hunting at dawn.

8. Adopting a Black Chicken

Since hawks dislike crows, therefore getting a black chicken can significantly reduce the chances of chicken getting eaten.

9. Seeking Assistance

If the hawk is being persistent then calling the wildlife services, is the best solution.

If you can, you should build your own chicken coop with a design in mind that will stop predators such as hawk attacking your chickens

Yes, building a chicken coop from scratch can be difficult

You don’t know where to start from or how to even make it

You could check out this pretty awesome guide called “building a chicken coop” which teaches you how you can build some pretty awesome chicken coops!

You can check it out by clicking here (This will take you to their sales page where you’ll learn exactly what you get)

Here’s the best part

You get to download it straight away and work on it PLUS you get 60 days to decide whether you like it or not

Otherwise you get your money back

That’s a 2 month guarantee which I think is a win win situation!

Related articles

Why do hawks circle?

How long do hawks stay in one area?

Can a hawk pick up a dog?

When Are Hawks Most Active?

Hawks are diurnal animals which mean they hunt during the day

This means at day time they are most active

The reason hawks tend to hunt during the day and are most active is because they have extra sharp vision

A hawks vision is 8 x sharper than a humans!

They rely heavily on their eyesight when catching prey so it makes sense for them to be active at day time rather than night

Do Hawks Hunt At Night?

Most people believe that hawks hunt at night which is not true

They don’t need to hunt at night because their vision is very excellent during the day

During the day hawks can see better which makes it easier for them to hunt their prey

And because hawks hunt during the day – this makes them diurnal

So if you’re wondering – Do hawks come out at night?

Then the answer is no

Whereas Owls are the type of birds that hunt at night

Animals that hunt at night are nocturnal

Hawks would hunt during the day

I actually have an article where I talk about the difference between an owl and a hawk in detail which I think you’d find interesting – Difference between hawk and owl


Hawks prey on chickens typically around mid-morning.

However, they can hunt the entire day and can easily take on a fully grown chicken.

Once a hawk targets a chicken coop, it is more than likely to return and eat more hens.

You cannot shoot a hawk, but you can take careful measures to reduce such attacks.

This can be done by building a chicken coop that stops predators from attacking your chickens




We at birdcageshere.com write about bird health and diet however it should not be taken as medical advice. For advice on your bird you need to seek out an avian vet. The information you find on birdcageshere.com is for educational purposes only. At birdcageshere.com we are not liable for any information that you may find on here. Birdcageshere is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice about your bird.