Hawks, Owls, Falcons and other birds of prey are majestic creatures who have served as both a bane and boon for humans throughout the ages. These raptors can snatch moving prey almost effortlessly from both ground and air.
While falconers train different kinds of raptor for beneficial reasons, wild hawks can be a dangerous foe to Purple Martin Landlords. Knowing how to get rid of these predatory birds usually comes down to scaring them away and making your property less attractive to them.
What are Raptors Afraid of?
Due to their smaller size, it’s easier to scare hawks off than larger birds of prey. Loud sounds, large and violent gestures (do not try to hit the bird with anything), and using a deterrent will all scare a hawk out of your yard.
Using a Hawk Deterrent
There are two types of deterrent you can use to keep hawks away. The first type is environmental. Prune branches and ensure the hawk has nowhere to perch. Removing bird feeders can also discourage hawks who are looking for an easy food source.
Physical deterrents are also useful. The Ravenox Dancing Scarecrow will fool the hawk into thinking a predator might be present. Be sure to move this dancing scarecrow around occasionally, as hawks and other birds of prey are highly intelligent and will notice if the deterrent remains stationary for more than a couple days.
How it Works
The dancing scarecrow is bright yellow, six feet tall, is easy to move around yet large enough to scare away owls and other predatory birds. A small air compressor puts air into the plastic tubing and creates motion. The compressor operates on standard 110 electric, is weather resistant and will operation rain or shine. While you have Purple Martins at your property we recommend running the dancing scarecrow from dusk till dawn.
We recommend using the dancing scarecrow in conjunction with other deterrents for best results in protecting your Purple Martin colony. Here are some other ideas:
- Shiny Things - While some species, such as crows, love to collect shiny objects, hawks and other birds of prey will see a flash of light and think it’s food. Flying into a pie tin is very frustrating, so hawks may eventually look elsewhere for less metallic meals.
- Guard Dogs - A large breed dog that gets on well with your Purple Martins can be an excellent deterrent from not only birds of prey, but other predators. Just make sure not to keep a schedule when letting the dog out if it’s an indoor dog. Letting them out at random will ensure the hawks remain cautious.
Hawk vs Falcon
While they might appear similar when perched, hawks and falcons have different wing shapes. The hawk’s is broad and best suited for diving from lower perches. Meanwhile, falcons use their sickle-shaped wings to dive long distances for their prey.
The way they kill prey is also different. Hawks use their talons to pierce vital organs, causing a slower and more painful death. Falcons instead use their speed to strike hard and fast, stunning the prey or even killing them instantly.
Can I Shoot a Hawk Attacking my Purple Martins?
Most birds of prey are protected in the US by Federal law due to their vital role in controlling other pests. Injuring or killing a hawk can lead to fines or worse. Note that there are exceptions for migratory birds of prey merely on the “Do Not Disturb” list, but it requires a special permit which can be difficult to obtain.
I have had problems with Great Horned Owls every year since my colony started because my Purple Martin colony is pretty remote. The day of my "Martinfest" on July 18th, 2015 I was losing Purple Martins to a Great Horned Owl and tried out the Dancing Scarecrow for the first time. My first night I set it up and turned it on at 10:00 PM and of at 6:00 AM the following morning. That was the end of my Great Horned Owl problems. I looked outside constantly after that date and never saw a sign of a Great Horned Owl. I was losing 2-3 Purple Martins every night until I started using the Dancing Scarecrow. I will start using it every year now about the time fledgling starts as that's when my owl issues start. -Robert Allnock, PA.