How to Keep Hawks Away from Bird Feeders: Expert Tips and Techniques

Birdwatching is a popular hobby that offers a relaxing and fulfilling experience for many. Providing a bird feeder in one’s backyard can attract a variety of beautiful birds, offering a close-up view of their behaviors and habits. However, this enjoyable pastime can be disrupted when unwanted visitors—such as hawks—enter the scene and prey on the smaller birds that frequent bird feeders.

Hawks are skilled predators that can wreak havoc in a birdwatcher’s backyard, striking fear among the songbirds who visit feeders and create a challenging environment for bird enthusiasts to maintain. With careful planning and a better understanding of hawk behaviors, there are ways to deter them from invading the space and feeding on the birds you enjoy observing.

Key Takeaways

  • An introductory look at the issue of hawks preying on birds at backyard feeders
  • Overview of various deterrents and modifications to discourage hawk presence
  • Emphasize the importance of bird safety and habitat preservation for successful birdwatching

Understanding Hawk Behavior

Hawks are skilled predators, belonging to the family of raptors, which includes other birds of prey like eagles and falcons. They possess sharp talons and excellent vision, making them effective hunters. Understanding their behavior is crucial for creating a safe environment for your backyard birds.

One of the key behavioral aspects of hawks is their reliance on vantage points for hunting. Hawks prefer to perch on high points, such as tree branches or posts, to survey their surroundings and spot potential prey. This is especially true for Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks, which are more likely to visit bird feeders.

These two species of hawks primarily feed on smaller birds, so areas with bird feeders tend to become hunting grounds for them. Not only do these bird feeders provide an attractant for the prey they seek, but they also offer an excellent opportunity for the hawks to observe and plan their attacks.

Hawks are also opportunistic hunters, meaning they will take advantage of any available food source. While they predominantly hunt small birds, they are also known to feed on mammals, insects, and even carrion. This adaptability is what makes them such efficient predators.

To maintain their energy levels, hawks need regular access to food sources. When backyard bird feeders become known as reliable hunting grounds, hawks are more likely to frequent the area. This makes understanding their habits essential for anyone looking to deter these raptors without causing harm to them or the backyard birds.

Read Next: How to Keep Crows Away from Bird Feeders

Types of Bird Feeders

Bird feeders come in various designs and styles to cater to the needs and preferences of different bird species. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss some popular types of bird feeders to help you make a more informed decision when choosing one for your backyard.

Platform Feeders are simply open trays that provide an accessible feeding spot for a wide range of bird species. They can either be hung from trees or poles or mounted on a post, offering birds an easy-to-reach platform where they can enjoy their meal.

Hopper Feeders resemble small houses and usually have a roof to protect the seeds from the elements. These feeders have an opening at the bottom that allows seeds to flow onto a tray for birds to access. They can be mounted on a post or hung from a tree, and due to the protective covering, they can hold a large volume of seeds.

Caged Bird Feeders are designed to offer protection for smaller birds while excluding larger birds and squirrels. They consist of an inner tube feeder surrounded by a wire mesh cage, ensuring that only small birds can gain access to the seeds. This type of feeder is particularly helpful if you’re trying to keep hawks away from bird feeders, as it discourages their presence by limiting access to potential prey.

Tube Feeders are slender cylinders with holes and perches that allow birds to reach the seeds inside. These feeders can be hung from trees or posts and are ideal for attracting finches and other small birds. The design ensures that seeds are evenly distributed among all the feeding ports, reducing competition among birds and providing a more peaceful feeding environment.

Suet Feeders are specifically designed to hold suet cakes – a high-energy food source made of rendered fat mixed with seeds, fruits, and grains. They typically have a wire cage or mesh container to securely hold the suet cake while allowing birds to easily access the food. These feeders attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other insect-eating birds.

Window Feeders are small, transparent feeders that are attached directly to a window using suction cups or adhesive strips. They provide an up-close view of birds feeding and are especially popular for families with children or anyone interested in observing bird behavior in detail.

By selecting the appropriate type of bird feeder and providing suitable cover, you can create a safe haven for birds in your backyard, inviting an array of species to enjoy your hospitality while also keeping unwanted visitors, such as hawks, at bay.

Protecting Backyard Birds

One of the main goals for bird enthusiasts is to create a safe and welcoming environment for backyard birds like songbirds and small birds. Remember that their safety also depends on protection from predators like hawks. Here, we will discuss a few methods to keep hawks away from bird feeders.

Providing shelter for small birds is essential to protect them from hawk attacks. Including dense trees, thick shrubbery, and brush piles in your backyard can serve as natural cover for songbirds. It’s best to have these shelters within 10 feet of bird feeders, allowing birds to reach safety quickly when they feel threatened1.

Regularly removing birdseed that has fallen on the ground can help prevent hawks from being attracted to your backyard, as they can feed on birds and insects eating from the ground2. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to avoid ground feeding the birds to minimize their vulnerability to potential hawk attacks.

You can also minimize the risk of hawk predation by using shielded bird feeders3. These coverings discourage hawks from accessing the feeders and help songbirds feel secure while feeding. It’s important, however, to ensure these shielded feeders still allow the smaller birds to access the birdseed comfortably.

When a hawk starts hanging around your bird feeders, you may need to take the feeders down for a short period, typically around 5 to 10 days4. This will encourage the hawk to search for alternative sources of food and move away from your backyard birds. Don’t worry, though; your songbirds will quickly return to your feeders once you put them back up.

Implementing these strategies can help create a safer environment for your backyard birds, allowing them to safely feed and thrive without the constant threat of hawk predation.

Deter Hawks from Bird Feeders

When it comes to deterring hawks from your bird feeders, there are several strategies you can employ to help protect your backyard birds. Implementing these tactics can help make your yard less attractive to hawks and safeguard your smaller bird friends.

First, consider the placement of your bird feeders. By positioning them in a safe area, preferably near shrubs or other dense foliage, you provide cover for smaller birds to retreat into. This obstructs the hawk’s vantage points, making it more difficult for them to spot and swoop down on unsuspecting prey.

In addition to strategic feeder positioning, try removing any potential food sources for hawks in your vicinity. This includes ground-feeding birds, as hawks may view them as easy targets. Refrain from scattering birdseed on the ground and opt for elevated bird feeders instead.

To discourage hawks even further, consider adding reflectors or shiny objects in your garden. These can help deter hawks, as the reflections and movement will act as a visual disturbance. Hanging scare tape or angling small mirrors can be an effective way to achieve this.

As a temporary solution, you can also remove your bird feeders for a week or so. This may be inconvenient for your backyard visitors, but it can help break the pattern of hawk visits to your area. Once you think the hawk has moved on, you can put the feeders back up.

Caging your bird feeders is another option to consider. This involves installing a wire cage around the feeders, which allows smaller birds to access the food while keeping out larger predators like hawks.

Remember to be patient and persistent with these tactics. Hawk deterrence may take some time, but with some effort and consistency, you will create a safer environment for your backyard birds.

Physical Deterrents

One effective way to keep hawks away from bird feeders is by using physical deterrents. These devices often utilize visual, auditory, or movement-based features to discourage the presence of these predators. By employing various physical deterrent methods, you can help protect the smaller birds that visit your bird feeders.

A popular option is to use a scarecrow or a fake owl to imitate the presence of a larger predator. Both owl decoys and owl statues can help to deter hawks by making them think there’s already a dominant bird occupying the area. This approach capitalizes on the natural fear hawks have of their own predators, such as larger owls or eagles.

Another effective physical deterrent is the use of reflective materials, like reflective tape or even mirrors. Reflective surfaces can disorient hawks and make the area less appealing for them. By hanging reflectors in your garden or near your bird feeders, you can create an uninviting environment for these predators.

Using netting around your bird feeders is another practical strategy. This can provide a barrier that prevents hawks from reaching the smaller birds while still allowing them to access the feeder. Netting can be especially helpful in areas with high hawk populations or in cases where other deterrents may not be as effective.

Roosting spikes can also be installed around your bird feeders. These sharp devices discourage hawks from perching nearby and make it more difficult for them to target their prey. By removing potential perching spots, you can make your bird feeders less attractive to these predators.

Noise Deterrents

Noise deterrents can be an effective way to keep hawks away from bird feeders without harming the birds. These deterrents utilize loud sounds to scare off hawks, while having minimal impact on the smaller birds you’re trying to attract. Here are some options to consider for implementing noise deterrents in your backyard.

One common type of noise deterrent is the propane cannon. These devices produce loud, sudden booms that can startle hawks and prevent them from swooping down on your bird feeders. Make sure to place them at a safe distance from your bird feeders, as the noise may startle other birds as well.

Another option is to use recordings of distress calls from birds that hawks typically prey upon. Playing these sounds intermittently can dissuade hawks from approaching your bird feeders, as they will perceive the area as unsafe. You can find devices that play these distress calls, or even use a speaker connected to your phone or another audio source.

Alarms and motion-activated devices can also be effective in scaring away hawks. By setting up a system that emits loud sounds when it detects motion, you can create a deterrent that only activates when a hawk enters the area around your bird feeders. This can help minimize the impact on other birds while still keeping hawks at bay.

Implementing these solutions, you can maintain a safe environment for the smaller birds you want to attract while keeping hawks away.

Landscape Modifications

Making some changes to your backyard landscape can significantly help deter hawks from preying on birds at your bird feeders. For instance, providing natural cover is one of the most effective ways to protect smaller birds from hawks.

Planting dense trees, thick shrubbery, and creating brush piles in your backyard are great options for shelter. Aim to provide various hiding spots for the birds to escape to in case a hawk is nearby. Keep in mind that too much vegetation in certain areas may not be helpful. Balancing the landscaping around your bird feeders is key.

Another potential modification is eliminating or trimming low-hanging tree branches that hawks can use as launching points for their attacks. Regularly pruning the branches that surround your bird feeders will reduce the number of suitable perches for hawks. This makes the area less attractive to predators while still providing a safe habitat for birds.

It’s also a good idea to place your bird feeders close to windows. By doing so, you are creating a risky environment for hawks as they may not want to fly close to the windows. Additionally, keeping the feeders close to your house restricts the space hawks have to swoop down on their prey.

Lastly, consider installing a fence around the perimeter of your yard. This can serve as an extra barrier for hawks, making it harder for them to approach the bird feeders directly. However, ensure that the fence is not too tall or thick to obstruct the birds’ line of sight, allowing them to easily spot potential threats.

By modifying your backyard landscape thoughtfully, you can make it more challenging for hawks to prey upon birds at your bird feeders, ultimately promoting a safer and more enjoyable environment for your feathered friends.

Protecting Other Animals

When it comes to safeguarding your yard and its various inhabitants, being proactive is key. This includes protecting a wide range of animals like chickens, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, small dogs, fish, livestock, poultry, mice, voles, lizards, and frogs. Let’s look at some ways to defend these animals against potential hawk attacks.

First, create a safe, sheltered space for all your animals. For instance, dense trees, thick shrubbery, and brush piles can provide excellent cover for small animals, making it harder for hawks to spot and swoop down on them. For chickens and poultry, ensuring their coop is well-fortified and secured with proper fencing can help deter hawks.

If you have small dogs, staying with them while they’re outside is a good practice as hawks are less likely to approach when a human is present. Similarly, if you keep fish in an outdoor pond, consider installing a net or mesh cover to prevent hawks from accessing the water.

In areas where rodents like mice and voles are common, removing hawk food sources such as easy access to food scraps and garbage will help avoid attracting hawks. Also, try to control and minimize rodent populations in your yard by using traps or other means.

For reptiles and amphibians like snakes, lizards, and frogs, it is essential to maintain their habitats, such as ponds and rock gardens, providing them with plenty of hiding spots. Additionally, planting vegetation around these areas can create a natural barrier against hawks.

Since hawks like perching on high vantage points to scout for prey, removing any potential perches will make your yard less attractive to them. Installing deterrents like reflective ribbons, bird tape, or even a scarecrow or a fake owl can also help keep unwanted raptors away.

In short, by providing shelter, minimizing hawk attractants, and creating deterrents, you can effectively protect a wide variety of animals in your yard from being targeted by hawks.

Safety Measures

Taking proper safety measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of hawks preying on birds attracted to your feeders. One of the most effective safety measures is providing natural cover for smaller birds, such as dense trees, thick shrubbery, and brush piles. This gives them shelter from hawk attacks and an opportunity to escape when needed.

Another useful method to protect feeder birds is to strategically place your bird feeders in a safe location. Installing feeders close to a gazebo or roof awning ensures that birds have some form of overhead protection, deterring hawks from swooping down and attacking. Moreover, positioning feeders near the shelter, but not too close to potential ambush points, gives smaller birds a fighting chance.

Incorporating some deterrents in your yard can also keep hawks at bay. A guard dog can be an effective dissuasion technique, as hawks may be sufficiently intimidated to steer clear from the area. If canines aren’t an option, consider adding reflectors, scarecrows, or fake owls to make the environment less appealing to hawks.

Providing a safe environment for your chickens can minimize hawks’ attacks as well. Building a secure chicken coop with covered runs and mesh fencing will keep your chickens protected from aerial predators.

By implementing these safety measures, you can reduce the risk of hawks preying on the birds near your feeders, ensuring a secure and enjoyable bird-watching experience.


In order to keep hawks away from your bird feeders, there are several practical steps you can take to protect your backyard visitors. Firstly, consider taking down your bird feeders for a week to discourage the hawk from visiting. When you put the feeders back up, make sure they are in a safe and sheltered location, such as near dense trees or thick shrubbery, which will provide natural cover and protection for smaller birds while they feed.

Avoid ground feeding, as this can attract hawks by providing easy access to their prey. Instead, try to install a cage around your bird feeders to deter larger birds like hawks while still allowing smaller bird species to feed safely. Additionally, hang reflectors in your garden or backyard to help scare away hawks as they may be deterred by shiny and moving objects.

Another method is to remove hawk vantage points such as trees or tall structures where they can easily survey the area and spot their potential prey. If a hawk continues to be a problem, consider taking more drastic measures such as getting a guard dog, which may help deter hawks from entering your yard due to their larger size and presence.

In short, by making modifications to your bird feeder setup, enhancing the natural shelter available for smaller birds, and implementing various deterrents, you can effectively keep hawks at bay and maintain a safe environment for the feathered friends visiting your bird feeders. Always practice responsible bird feeding and wildlife management to protect both the birds you’re inviting into your backyard and the wildlife that shares their habitat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an effective DIY hawk deterrent?

An effective DIY hawk deterrent is to hang reflectors in your garden. Reflective materials like old CDs or aluminum foil can disorient or deter hawks from approaching your bird feeders. Another option is to install a cage around your bird feeders to prevent hawks from accessing the smaller birds trying to feed. You can find more information here.

Do wind chimes deter hawks from bird feeders?

Although wind chimes might help to some extent, there is no solid evidence to support their effectiveness in deterring hawks. Instead, try other measures like removing hawk vantage points or installing a protective cage around your bird feeders for better results.

How can I protect birds and squirrels from hawks?

To protect birds and squirrels from hawks in your backyard, you should implement several strategies. These can include placing your bird feeders in safe places, keeping your ground feeding to a minimum, and adding distractions like scarecrows or fake owls. Check this guide for more tips.

What techniques help keep hawks away from your yard?

There are several techniques to keep hawks away from your yard, such as placing bird feeders in a protected location, removing sources of food for hawks, using reflective materials, and setting up visual deterrents like fake owls or scarecrows. You can find more information here.

Do hawks pose a threat to bird eggs?

Yes, hawks can pose a threat to bird eggs in your backyard. They are natural predators and may prey on birds, their eggs, or even their young. To protect bird eggs from hawks, ensure your nesting boxes are placed in safe, hidden areas and consider installing deterrents to prevent hawks from approaching your yard.

What do hawks usually eat?

Hawks primarily eat other birds, as well as small mammals like mice, squirrels, and rabbits. They are attracted to backyard bird feeders as these provide a reliable source of food. To reduce the likelihood of hawks visiting your yard, you can try removing their food sources or temporarily taking down your bird feeders as suggested in this article.



Leave a Comment