We have a hawk problem. It started a week ago. These hawks are very smart and they target the few areas where there is enough room to grab a hen before she runs into the coop. It's a nightmare. My hens free-range and I'm going to continue doing this as they are much happier outside scratching and pecking then they are in their coop.
When I leave for an extended period I do lock them up and there is an outside area but I have mobile coops or chicken tractors so the area isn't huge. When I invested in mobile coops my intention was to free range them and I adopted two roosters to help with the aerial predator issue I knew may come up.
I built a scarecrow as a way to 'scare' away this hawk that keeps coming back. Here are the DIY steps so you can build your own.
In addition to a scarecrow, we're also adding owls on posts throughout the area. We already have a lot of reflective material hanging from the fence every 3 or 4 feet.
The Happy Chicken Coop tells us,
"If you have free ranging hens it can be more difficult to protect them against birds of prey. One effective way I've found is to hang unwanted CDs from trees, posts etc. The reflection of the sun from the CD will deter them. You can also use pie pans, disco balls - anything that will reflect light."
So far so good! DIY steps below.
1. Protect the hens! Materials are simple
We enjoy having fresh eggs daily. We will do whatever is needed to make sure the chickens are safe.
We gathered the materials from our local feed store and some of what was needed came from the Goodwill pile of clothes we planned to give away.
- Balls of twine (2 or 3)
- A bale of straw
- Pants, sweatshirt, button-down shirts, hats, boots, pillowcases
- Gardening gloves
- Hammer and nails
- Two 6 foot 2X4 boards or two round posts like the one in the picture (per Scarecrow)
- Staple gun
- Safety pins
2. Prepare the clothes
Start stuffing those clothes with lots and lots of straw! You can cinch the bottom of the pant legs and the bottom of the sleeves with twine first if it's easiest. We used a pillow for the head as I don't wear pantyhose which a lot of folks use!
Leave the shirt unbuttoned and stuff into the pants when you're done and you can connect the two with safety pins.
Staff note: Some people will use a burlap bag for the head rather than a pillow. So they add the burlap bag as the last step (see the video at the bottom of this article) after they stuff the pantyhose.
3. Make a cross for the scarecrow body
Nail the two 2X4 boards or the round posts together. We actually put the round post through the shirt sleeves first. It made it easier to attach to the post we tied to our fence. We used twine to keep it all together and hung the back of the shirt on the round post and added the pillowcase head and hat last.
Staff note: Some folks will nail the two 2X4 boards together like a cross first. You can staple the stuffed scarecrow to the boards. You can also just sit the Scarecrow up on a bench or a chair if you don't want to put the post against a fence as we did!
Make this project your own and add anything you'd like that you think will make those hawks think twice before paying a visit to the hens.
Here's a video we watched before we started and as you'll see we skipped some of the steps (hot glue) and used twine to keep all the stuffing together.
Experts also tell us that a fake owl or two will also work. We'll be adding those pronto. Backyard chickens are unfortunately a food source for a hawk so it's important to have some strategies in your back pocket when or if this happens to you if you let your birds roam throughout the day.
Good luck! Remember that a good roo will give his life to protect his ladies! That's why we have two.
Have you ever built a scarecrow before? Please let us know if we have all the steps by leaving a comment below!