Controlling Predatory Birds: What To Do For Birds Of Prey In My Garden

Image by Henk Bentlage

By Jackie Carroll

If you enjoy watching wildlife in your garden, for some of you, one animal you don’t want to see is a bird of prey. Keep reading to find out how to discourage hawks and owls from visiting your garden.

Before trying to remove a bird of prey that visits your garden, find out its legal status. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects all hawks and owls in the United States and makes it illegal to trap or kill them without a special permit. Permits are only issued after you have tried other methods of convincing the bird to move on. In addition, it is illegal to scare or harass endangered species. Check with the Fish and Wildlife Service to find out the status of your bird of prey.

Birds of Prey in My Garden

Hawks and owls visit gardens that offer an abundant source of food, such as birdfeeders or wildlife plantings and ponds. Bird of prey deterrents include habitat modification, frightening the birds and, as a last resort, trapping and relocation. It’s best to leave trapping to experts who know how to trap and handle birds without injuring them.

Most gardeners can do some form of habitat modification to discourage birds of prey. Before swooping in for the kill, they survey the area from a perch that allows a good view of the surrounding area. Removing perches may be all it takes to convince the bird to move on. If you can’t remove the perch, try controlling birds of prey by changing the situation on the ground. Brush piles and dense shrub plantings offer wildlife a place to hide.

How to Keep Birds of Prey Away From Bird Feeders

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While birds of prey in gardens are often helpful in keeping unwanted rodent populations down, they can sometimes go after other birds in the garden. If raptors are killing the birds that visit your bird feeder, try taking them down for a couple of weeks. If the birds of prey return when you replace the bird feeders, put them away until next season.

Scare tactics aren’t very practical or convenient in an urban setting. The most effective frightening devices are pyrotechnics fired from a pistol or shotgun that create explosions or other loud noises and light flashes. These devices only scare the bird for a short time, so they aren’t effective at keeping birds of prey out of gardens for the long term.

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