How to Protect Chickens from Hawks/Overhead Predators
Flying birds of prey pose a serious threat to free-ranging chickens. With some preparation, you can reduce the chances of losing a bird to a hawk.
Make Sure your Chickens Have Shade and Cover
A few years ago, a hawk tried to snatch up one of our hens. Thankfully, she was able to narrowly escape by running underneath our coop!
Your chickens should have some form of shade and shelter even if you aren't concerned about overhead predators. Our coop at home is raised off the ground, and our chickens love to sit underneath the coop to escape the hot sun. This will also protect them from other pests that dig underneath coops (mice, etc.). If your coop isn't raised off the ground, make sure they have somewhere to hide if hawks are in the area.
Get a Rooster
A rooster will do anything to protect its hens from predators. They'll herd their hens back if they stray too far away from the flock and will make lots of noise if they see or hear a hawk or eagle flying above them. In cases where predators do swoop down in an attempt on a chicken, roosters will charge the hawk, sometimes causing them to drop the hen and flee. It's not foolproof, but adding a rooster or two to your flock will go a long way towards keeping your hens safe.
No need to worry about having chicks - if you collect your eggs in a day or two, the eggs are pretty much the same as they would be otherwise.
Check out this video of a rooster alerting his hens to take cover from a hawk:
Consider a Chicken Coop with a Covered Run
An easy solution to this issue is keeping your chickens in a closed run. No hawks allowed! We have several great options for backyard chicken keepers in our store.
Add Overhead Netting to your Grazing Area
If you have a larger, fenced-in area for your flock, you can cover the top of the fence with netting, preventing birds of prey from swooping down onto your hens. This will also stop your birds from flying out over the fence, which has happened to us a few times.