How to Attract Hawks (And Get Some Natural Pest Control)

Attracting hawks to your backyard can be a fascinating and rewarding endeavor for bird enthusiasts. These majestic birds are not only an impressive sight, but they also play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem by controlling rodent populations. To successfully attract hawks, understanding their unique needs and preferences is essential.

Creating a hawk-friendly environment in your backyard requires a multifaceted approach. By providing natural shelter, food sources, water, and an appealing habitat, you can encourage these raptors to make your yard their home or hunting ground. However, it’s also important to consider the safety and protection of both the hawks and their potential prey, as well as avoiding conflicts with larger animals that may pose a threat.

Key Takeaways

  • Design a suitable habitat with shelter, food, and water to attract hawks to your backyard
  • Ensure the safety of both hawks and their prey by managing potential threats
  • Tailor your efforts to attract specific hawk species by understanding their unique preferences

Creating an Attractive Environment

To successfully attract hawks to your backyard, you need to create an environment that caters to their needs for shelter, food, and water. By providing these essentials, you will create a more inviting habitat for these majestic birds of prey.

Providing Shelter

Hawks prefer to find shelter in large trees, as they offer stable perches and a higher vantage point for hunting prey. To create a more attractive environment, start planting large trees in your yard, if you don’t have any already. These trees can provide ample coverage for them to rest and scout for food. In addition to the trees, consider leaving some dead trees or tall bushes in your backyard to create a more diverse habitat for hawks. These natural structures can provide additional perching opportunities and help hawks feel secure.

Food Sources

Hawks are carnivorous and primarily feed on small mammals, birds, and insects. To make your backyard more appealing to these raptors, focus on promoting a thriving ecosystem that supports their prey.

  • Grass and Brush: Allow some grassy areas to grow longer or include clusters of brush, as this can provide cover for small mammals and attract insects.
  • Bird Feeders: Strategically place bird feeders to attract songbirds, which are a common food source for hawks. However, place them away from your main relaxation spot to avoid unwanted disturbances.
  • Pest Control: Avoid using pesticides or chemicals in your garden. These can negatively impact the prey population, making your yard less attractive to hawks. Instead, opt for natural pest control methods.
  • Fences: Ensure your fences have gaps or openings to allow small mammals and birds (potential prey) to access your backyard.

Water Sources

Although hawks typically get enough water from the blood of their prey, they do enjoy bathing in water on hot days. By providing a water source, you will not only help attract hawks but also support the ecosystem of small creatures they hunt. You can add a bird bath, pond, or fountain to your backyard landscape. Make sure the water source is accessible and easy to spot for the hawks, preferably close to trees or tall bushes, where they can perch and scout. Regularly clean and refill the water source to ensure it remains a viable option for hawks and other wildlife.

Perches and Nesting

When it comes to attracting hawks to your yard, providing suitable perches and nesting sites is essential. By understanding the types of perches, nesting materials, and nesting sites preferred by hawks, you can make your yard more appealing to these raptors.

Types of Perches

Hawks appreciate a variety of perches, from natural to man-made options. Some examples include:

  • Mature trees: Both deciduous and coniferous trees can serve as excellent perches for hawks. Tall trees with sturdy branches and good visibility are particularly appealing.
  • Deck railings: If your yard has a deck or similar structure, hawks may use the railings as a vantage point to hunt for prey.
  • Installed perches: You can also install tall poles or T-shaped perches to provide additional options for hawks. Ensure they are installed in open areas with minimal obstructions.

When selecting the various perching options, make sure they offer good visibility and accessibility for hawks.

Nesting Material

Hawks usually build their nests from sticks and twigs, so providing such materials in their natural environment is beneficial.

  • Fallen branches: If you have trees in your yard, leaving fallen branches on the ground can supply hawks with nesting materials.
  • Leaf litter: While not the primary material, hawks may use leaves as padding for their nests. Maintaining a natural environment with some leaf litter can contribute to the overall attractiveness of your yard for these birds.

Nesting Sites

Hawks typically prefer nesting in high, secure, and open spaces. Here are a few tips for creating suitable nesting sites:

  • Mature trees: Tall deciduous or coniferous trees provide natural nesting sites for hawks. Select trees with strong limbs and sufficient space between branches.
  • Artificial nest platforms: If your yard lacks mature trees, you may want to install a wooden nest platform high off the ground. Make sure it’s located in a relatively open area for easy access and visibility.
  • Open space: Hawks need a clear line of sight for hunting. Ensure nesting sites have an open area nearby, where they can easily spot and catch prey.

By providing hawks with various perching options, nesting materials, and suitable nesting sites, your yard will become a more welcoming environment for these magnificent birds.

Choosing Food and Feeders

Food Selection

To attract hawks to your yard, it’s important to provide a diverse range of food that meets their dietary needs. As predators, hawks primarily feed on small mammals, such as rodents, as well as insects and other birds. To attract these creatures, you can plant a variety of seed- and berry-bearing plants, which will, in turn, attract the prey that hawks seek. Select plants that peak at different times of the year to maintain a consistent habitat and ensure a continuous food supply.

  • Rodents: Maintain a natural outdoor space with tall grasses and shrubs, as these attract small mammals like mice and voles, which are common prey for hawks.
  • Insects: Cultivate a garden with native plants that attract insects such as butterflies, beetles, and caterpillars – all of which are food sources for hawks.
  • Birds: To attract smaller birds that hawks may prey upon, offer a variety of seeds and nuts at your bird feeders. For example, black oil sunflower seeds are known to attract a wide range of birds, from chickadees to woodpeckers.

Types of Bird Feeders

Choosing the right bird feeder is essential for attracting a variety of birds to your yard. There are several types of bird feeders, each designed to accommodate specific bird species and types of food.

  • Platform Feeders: These open, flat feeders can hold a variety of seeds and nuts, making them a good choice for attracting numerous bird species. Remember to clean them regularly to prevent mold and disease.
  • Tube Feeders: Designed with multiple feeding ports, tube feeders are suitable for holding seeds, such as sunflower seeds, and attract smaller birds like finches and chickadees.
  • Suet Feeders: Offering suet, a type of high-energy animal fat, can attract woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds, which are potential prey for hawks.

By selecting the appropriate food and bird feeders, you can create an ideal environment that will attract hawks and provide them with the necessary resources to thrive in your yard.

Watering Options

Providing a water source in your backyard can significantly increase the chances of attracting hawks. While hawks obtain most of their hydration from the blood of their prey, they still appreciate a place to drink, cool off, or bathe, especially in hotter climates. To cater to their needs, consider including a variety of watering options in your backyard.

Bird Baths

A bird bath is one simple way of offering water to hawks. Choose a sturdy one, as hawks are heavier than smaller birds. Position the bird bath in an open area with easy access for hawks to swoop in without any obstacles. Keep it clean by regularly replacing the water and scrubbing the surface to maintain a healthy environment.


Adding a pond to your backyard is another effective way to attract hawks. Ponds not only serve as a water source for hawks to drink or bathe but also attract small prey like insects, squirrels, or mice. An open, shallow pond will especially pique their interest, as it offers easy hunting opportunities. Remember to keep the pond water clean and free of contaminants.


Incorporating a fountain or another running water feature can also draw hawks to your yard. The sound of running water captures their attention and creates a focal point in your outdoor space. Not only does this provide a drinking and bathing area, it also adds a soothing ambience to your property.

By considering these watering options, you’re giving hawks a reason to visit your backyard more frequently. Be sure to observe these majestic creatures from a distance and admire the natural ecosystem they help maintain.

Protecting Hawks and Prey

Safe Yard Practices

Creating a safe environment for hawks and their prey is essential for a balanced ecosystem. Start by offering natural shelter for smaller birds and prey. Dense trees, thick shrubbery, and brush piles are suitable options for providing cover from predators like hawks. Ensuring that there is a clean water source in your yard will benefit both hawks and their prey, keeping them healthy and hydrated.

As with any birds of prey, it’s crucial to manage their populations responsibly. Avoid creating a feeding frenzy in your yard by offering an abundance of food for hawks or their prey. Instead, try to maintain a balance that allows hawks to fulfill their role as predators without decimating the prey population.

Pesticide Alternatives

Chemical pesticides and rodenticides can pose a significant threat to hawks and other predators in the ecosystem. When they consume poisoned prey, hawks may fall ill or even die from secondary poisoning. Opting for pesticide alternatives can protect hawks and help maintain a balanced ecosystem.

One alternative is using natural predators like snakes or even smaller birds of prey themselves, as they can help control the populations of insects and rodents in your yard without the risks posed by chemical pesticides. Introducing beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, can also provide a natural way to control pests in the garden.

Another option is incorporating organic gardening practices into your yard maintenance routine. These methods promote healthy soil and can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides. Employing techniques such as crop rotation, companion planting, and the use of natural fertilizers can significantly decrease the reliance on harmful chemicals that pose a risk to hawks and their prey.

In conclusion, providing safe yard practices and using pesticide alternatives can greatly contribute to protecting hawks and their prey in your backyard ecosystem. By offering natural shelter, clean water sources, and incorporating organic gardening practices, you can help promote a healthy environment for these birds of prey and the animals they rely on for survival.

Avoiding Conflicts with Larger Animals

When attracting hawks to your yard, it’s important to consider the potential conflicts with larger animals, such as pets and livestock. In this section, we’ll explore strategies for protecting pets and livestock, as well as keeping larger birds like great horned owls and barred owls at bay.

Pets and Livestock Protection

It’s essential to ensure the safety of your pets when attracting hawks, as these raptors are known to prey on smaller animals. Here are some steps to protect your pets:

  • Keep pets indoors or supervise them when they’re outside.
  • Provide shelter for smaller pets like rabbits or chickens by using enclosed pens or coops.
  • Install protective measures like bird netting or motion-activated sprinklers to deter hawks from approaching pets and livestock.

Similarly, livestock protection is important to prevent potential losses due to raptor attacks. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure that livestock housing is secure and well-maintained to prevent entry by birds of prey.
  • Consider using guardian animals, like dogs, to help keep raptors at a distance.
  • Regularly monitor your livestock for any signs of injury or distress from predator interactions.

Keeping Larger Birds at Bay

Great horned owls and barred owls can pose a threat to smaller backyard birds or even young hawks. To minimize the risk of these larger birds preying on your backyard ecosystem, follow these guidelines:

  • Maintain a variety of shrubs and trees to create an environment less suitable for larger birds of prey.
  • Remove potential nesting sites for owls, like hollow trees or abandoned structures.
  • Install bird deterrents, such as shiny objects or reflective tape, which can help to scare away larger birds.
  • Avoid using rodenticides, as these can lead to the deaths of larger birds that eat poisoned rodents.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a safer environment for pets, livestock, and smaller birds while still enjoying the benefits of attracting hawks to your yard.

Attracting Specific Hawk Species

In this section, we will cover ways to attract different types of hawks to your yard by focusing on their specific needs and preferences. We’ll discuss the American Kestrel, Eastern Screech-Owl, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and Western Screech-Owl.

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is a small, colorful falcon that feeds on insects, small mammals, and smaller birds. To attract them, you can do the following:

  • Provide perches like fence posts and dead tree branches to help them spot prey.
  • Install kestrel nesting boxes to encourage breeding.
  • Plant native grasses to attract insects and provide cover for prey like rabbits and gophers.

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech-Owls prey on a variety of small mammals and birds, such as sparrows, squirrels, and thrushes. To attract them to your yard, follow these steps:

  • Place owl nesting boxes in trees to offer nesting sites.
  • Grow thick shrubs and bushes to provide hiding spots for smaller birds, which the owls are likely to hunt.
  • Maintain a water source like a bird bath for them to drink and bathe in.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawks are medium-sized raptors known for their striking markings and hunting skills. They primarily feed on small mammals and occasionally smaller birds. To attract Red-Shouldered Hawks:

  • Plant tall trees with sturdy branches for roosting and hunting perches.
  • Maintain a clean water source for them to drink and bathe.
  • Consider installing nesting platforms in trees to provide appropriate breeding habitats.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawks are agile hunters that mainly feed on smaller birds, such as sparrows and thrushes. To make your yard more attractive to these raptors:

  • Offer bird feeders to attract smaller birds, which in turn will attract the hawks.
  • Provide dense tree cover to encourage nesting and roosting.
  • Keep a water source available for the hawks to drink and bathe.

Western Screech-Owl

Western Screech-Owls are similar to their eastern counterparts but mostly reside in the western part of North America. They typically prey on small mammals and some bird species. To welcome them to your yard, follow these strategies:

  • Install owl nesting boxes in trees to provide nesting sites.
  • Plant native vegetation to attract prey and provide hiding spots for smaller birds.
  • Ensure a water source is available for drinking and bathing purposes.

By addressing the specific needs and preferences of these hawk species, you will increase the chances of successfully attracting them to your yard. Remember to maintain a natural, predator-friendly environment while ensuring the safety and well-being of the birds and their prey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What food attracts hawks to your yard?

Hawks are attracted to a variety of prey, including small mammals, birds, and reptiles. To attract hawks to your yard, try to provide a natural environment that supports their preferred prey. For example, maintaining a healthy population of small rodents, insects, and birds will encourage hawks to visit your property in search of food. Remember, hawks are great at controlling pests, and having them in your yard can help keep your garden healthy too.

What type of habitat do hawks prefer?

Hawks prefer open spaces with some wooded areas. These habitats allow them to hunt for their prey easily while providing cover and perches for resting. To create a suitable habitat for hawks, maintain a mix of tree cover and open grassy areas in your yard. Providing these types of environments will increase the chances of attracting hawks.

Can providing perches help attract hawks?

Yes, providing perches can help attract hawks to your yard. Hawks need elevated spots to rest, search for prey, and survey their surroundings. Install natural or artificial perches, such as tall trees, poles, or platforms, in your yard to make it more appealing to hawks. If you don’t have tall trees, consider adding large dead branches or poles at varying heights.

Are there specific sounds that draw hawks closer?

Hawks use their keen sense of hearing to locate prey, but there are no specific sounds that can consistently draw hawks closer. It’s essential to create a natural environment in your yard to attract hawks instead of relying on sounds to do the trick.

How can I create a hawk-friendly environment on my property?

To create a hawk-friendly environment on your property, consider the following steps:

  1. Provide food sources: Maintain a healthy population of small mammals, insects, and birds that hawks can prey on.
  2. Offer habitat variety: Create a mix of open grassy areas and tree cover for hunting and resting.
  3. Install perches: Provide natural or artificial perches at varying heights for hawks to survey their surroundings.
  4. Add a water source: Hawks need access to water for drinking and bathing. Consider installing a bird bath, pond, or other water features.

Do hawk feeders help in attracting hawks?

There are no specific hawk feeders available to attract hawks. However, creating an environment that supports natural prey species for hawks, such as small mammals, birds, and reptiles, will make your yard more attractive to these birds of prey. Focus on providing a suitable habitat, food sources, and perches to attract hawks to your property.

Leave a Comment