How to Prevent Hawks and Falcons from Killing Backyard Birds

The typically peaceful bird feeder breaks into commotion as a large, fast shape flies past the window. The typical birds of the yard scatter and for a while, the feeders are empty and quiet.

Hawks and falcons are predatory birds that frequently take advantage of bird feeding stations as a source of concentrated prey. Some people love to see hawks in their yard as they are an important part of the ecosystem and a key link in the food chain. However, there are others who can’t stand hawks because they kill the backyard birds that they have cared for and loved to watch.

If you feed birds, hawks will certainly be a potential problem for your backyard birds. While there is no way to prevent them coming to your yard, there are some things you can do to help the birds at your feeders survive a visit from a hawk or falcon. Here are some things you can do to prevent hawks and falcons from killing your backyard birds.

Provide cover from above

Hawks and falcons have incredible eyesight and often spot prey while flying or perched high up in trees. To keep birds out of the sight of hawks, put feeders under something covered. Whether it’s a tree, an awning, or a structure built specifically for feeder cover, something to conceal the birds from predators flying above can be very helpful in mitigating the number of casualties at your bird feeder.

Provide ground cover

Another way to help out backyard birds is by providing low cover near bird feeders. If hawks and falcons do visit, it’s helpful for birds to have an easy escape route. Shrubs, bushes, and thick trees can all serve as places for small birds to conceal themselves in the event of a hawk or falcon attack. Combining high cover and low cover can definitely go a long way in giving backyard birds a fighting chance.

Black-capped Chickadee

Put up window decals

Hawks and falcons have learned to take advantage of the panic that ensues when they dive bomb a bird feeder. Often times, birds are in such a hurry to escape that they fly right into windows. The birds that hit the window end up stunned or deceased, making them significantly easier to catch. Some sources say that this is an intentional practice learned by hawks in particular, but it may also be coincidence. To help prevent birds from hitting the windows while a predatory bird is around, placing decals on the windows can show birds that the path is not clear and steer them in a direction where they can actually escape.

Take down feeders

If a predatory bird finds a feeding station and thus an easy source of food, they will often come back time and time again to hunt. Taking down bird feeders for one to two weeks can be an effective way of breaking the pattern. The downside to this method is that the birds typically visiting the feeder will also need to find a different food source while the feeders are down. While many of them will eventually come back, this could be hard on the birds if they are accustomed to the easy food source (especially in winter when food is far less plentiful). Nevertheless, it is a way to persuade a predatory bird to move on from your bird feeder.

Cooper’s Hawk

Do nothing

Hawks and falcons are natural parts of the bird world and while their presence can be saddening for those that feed birds, predatory birds are actually helpful to have around. They aid in the preventing certain species from overpopulating an area and they eat other types of animals that can be pests such as mice. While trying to fight back against predatory birds (metaphorically speaking) has been the norm for many backyard bird watchers, sometimes accepting their presence can actually be the best thing to do.

Seeing birds of prey taking backyard birds from your bird feeder can certainly be distressing, but by using these tips, you can give your backyard birds the best chance possible to escape unharmed. However, as stated previously, sometimes the best thing to do is to learn to live with these natural predators and enjoy the circle of life taking place in your own backyard.

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