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How to Attract Hawks to Your Yard (And Why It Might Be a Good Idea)

How to Attract Hawks to Your Yard (And Why It Might Be a Good Idea)
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Some people may be shocked to learn that attracting hawks to your yard can be a good thing. They are predators to many other animals, but they are the ultimate bird for avid bird watchers.

Attracting hawks to your yard is considered to be a rare achievement, and if you do the right things, you can draw them in without a lot of effort.

Why You Should Want Hawks in Your Yard

Red Tail Hawk Flying

It can be distressing to see a hawk swoop down and capture a rabbit or a cardinal, but they are predators that help to balance the wildlife population. Although they make meals of some pretty and harmless animals, they also eat snakes, rats, gophers, and other wildlife that is a nuisance.

Without hawks, these animals would overrun a neighborhood, so it is important to have them to keep the balance.

If you are a bird watcher, the hawk is the ultimate bird to see. They have unique behaviors, and they are huge and powerful. Hawks are birds or prey, also called raptors, and it is a unique experience to see how they behave in the wild.

Types of Raptors

There are different types of raptors in different regions, and some are very unlikely ever to make an appearance in your yard. Eagles are rare, and vultures arrive under specific circumstances, such as when there is a dead animal there.

Different types will show up if their feeding needs are met. Smaller raptors are more common, and you can often find them in suburban areas. Here are some of the more common raptors that you may find in your backyard.

Western Screech Owl in Tree
  • Eastern Screech Owl
  • Barred Owl
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Western Screech Owl
  • Broad Winged Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Sharp Shinned Hawk

How to Attract Hawks to Your Yard

The first step to attracting any kind of bird to your yard is to make sure that you have what the bird needs to survive. This includes food, water, shelter, and a place to nest. Hawks have specific needs, so you can take steps to make sure that you have what they need for survival.

All raptors are carnivores, so they eat other animals, but different raptors have different diets. The hawks that are easiest to attract to your yard feed on common birds such as sparrows, doves, thrushes, and finches. To attract the hawks, you will need to have feeders and attract the birds that they feed on.

Another common food source is rodents and insects. You can attract this kind of wildlife with food as well. However, you should not use pet rodents; you should always allow the hawks to feed on actual wildlife.

Hawks often have less of a need for water because they drink the blood of their prey. They will visit bird baths to bathe or cool down in the hotter months, and if you want to attract hawks, you should make sure that your bird baths are a little bit bigger than ones you would have for ordinary birds.

Bird baths that are made from concrete work well, especially those built on the ground of those that have a deeper bowl. In addition, bird baths will draw smaller birds that are food for the hawks, and this will help to draw the hawks.

Hawks like to shelter in big trees on large sturdy branches high up. They can scour the area for food, and they can rest after eating. They might perch on fences, deck railings, or even your roof, but a tree is ideal.

Finally, hawks use mature trees that are large for nesting. They prefer trees with wide, stable branches and a variety of nesting material. If you are trying to attract smaller raptors, you might be able to build a nesting box the right size for the bird and hang it high up in a tree.

Additional Tips for Attracting Hawks to Your Yard

Virginia Garden in Springtime

It can be difficult to attract hawks to your yard, but if they are in the area, you can take measures to get them to notice your yard and come for a visit. First of all, you should keep your yard quiet.

Hawks do not like busy environments. They have a lot of patience, and they often sit and keep an eye out for their prey. If you have a lot of activity in your yard, a hawk will move to another location that is quieter.

You should also keep your yard looking more natural and less sculpted. Hawks like to have foliage to conceal them as they wait to go after prey or as they rest after eating. If you keep your yard natural, the hawks will prefer it.

You should always make sure that your pets, including dogs, pet birds, cats, or other small animals are safe from hawks. The hawk doesn’t distinguish between wild animals and your pets, and it may swoop down and take your pet for its food, although it is not very common. Do not leave smaller animals outside unattended or they may become food for the hawks you attract.

You should also try not to exterminate the wildlife that hawks feed on. If you want to attract the hawks, you need to have the food source available for them.

If you have an exterminator come and eliminate rats and other wildlife, you will have less food for the hawk. In addition, exterminators often use poison to kill these animals, and if the hawk picks up a dying rat, it will also get sick.

When a hawk comes to visit, many of your backyard birds will leave. If any are left behind, the hawk will probably feed on it. You shouldn’t make noises or motions to get rid of the hawk after it eats because it needs to rest and allow the meal to digest.

If you make a commotion after it eats, it is unlikely to return again.

Final Thoughts

Birdwatching Hidden by Tree

Raptors are very different from your everyday backyard birds, and it can be fascinating to watch them. If you are a bird enthusiast, this is a unique experience that you will want to have.

You need to take steps to create an environment that encourages these birds to come for a visit, and make sure that you protect your pets as well.

When you are trying to attract these birds of prey, you need to make sure that your yard resembles nature. You don’t want to overdo the pruning; hawks will prefer to have a more natural space to perch.

Hawks will not come to a busy active yard because they prefer a tranquil environment. You should make sure that you have food, shelter, and water for them, and they might stay longer if you have a place where they can nest.

Hawks and other raptors provide a completely new angle on the bird-watching experience, and many enthusiasts are fascinated by watching them in action. It is definitely something you should experience for yourself, and you will learn about an entirely different kind of bird.

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Darleen Feig

Thursday 20th of October 2022

A Hawk has been flying around lately & today sat within a few feet from our window! What an enormous, beautiful creature! The windows are dirty so one of my house guests ran out with her phone to take a picture. That scared my beautiful friend away. I hope he or she will visit again, even though there was some commotion! I don't want to give up a small bird to attract the hawk though. I love ALL Birds equally except for the crows since they literally attack any bird that is not a crow & chase them a long distance to do so!!

Keito

Monday 27th of June 2022

Cooper Hawks started to nest in my large oak tree about 4 years and have raised many generations there. We used to be overrun by White Winged Doves but not anymore. Unfortunately though, I think they're the cause of the disappearance of the other birds that use to visit my yard, i.e. Mocking Birds and Cardinals.

Beth

Friday 15th of April 2022

I find it cruel you suggest people lure certain small birds into their backyards via feeders for the purpose of being preyed on by hawks. Set the little things up to die for personal pleasure. Hawks have no problem finding prey, I see their work in nature all the time, hiking or just walking through a cemetery, so setting up small birds to die is not value added for a hawk (which you are not suggesting, I do get that your article is geared toward humans who take pleasure in watching hawks kill smaller things and wish to observe such in their own backyard). I understand nature is cruel, but I love my little birds and critters who visit daily and chase the hawks off anytime I see one. It breaks my heart anyone would feed these little creatures just to intentionally set them up to die.

Hawkeye

Saturday 18th of December 2021

Informative article. We've been enjoying two hawks on our property boundary for the past couple weeks. One hawk was even resting on our tree closest to the kitchen window. Amazing sight to see the bird looking at us while we're washing dishes.

Seki T

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

I love it so much! I have now learned a lot! thank you!