Protecting your chickens from eagles can be difficult. Although eagles are majestic and beautiful, they can be stressful when you have free-range chickens.
That’s especially true when they grabbed one of my prize chickens and flap away like a harbinger of death. Several birds of prey in the Northern U.S. are known to predate on chickens and other fowl, but it’s quite dramatic to see a huge bald eagle swoop in to scoop up an eight-pound hen.
Any homesteader with free-ranging chickens is always on the watch for birds of prey that may cull their flock. When I noticed another three hens missing in one week, with a fourth hen slashed up quite badly, I decided to ask my neighbor just how she keeps her flock safe from airborne predators.
How can you protect your chicken from eagles? Eagles strike from above, so one of the best methods to protect chickens from eagles is to hang a bird net above your chickens’ run area and coop. Other eagle deterrents are hanging old CDs and reflective items that move and make sounds around the chickens’ common area. Providing plenty of shelters and keeping guinea hens will also help warn your chickens to take cover when an eagle approaches.
Like any predator, eagles attack to hunt preys, and chickens are one of their favorite food sources. To protect your chicken from eagle, read this article and understand how an eagle can kill your chickens.
Saving Chicken From Eagle: Do Eagles Hunt Chickens?
Eagles do hunt and eat chickens, but only if the eagle is in an area with limited food resources. Most eagles prefer to catch animals in flight, such as other airborne birds and fishes. Also, eagles can’t live by eating chickens forever. Chickens aren’t natural prey for eagles, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to save chicken from eagle.
Moreover, eagles are opportunistic predators and will catch chickens if no other food sources are available or when a good chance arises. Old and injured eagles that can’t go after faster-flying birds for food may choose to pounce on slower chickens that require less energy to catch.
Do eagles eat chicken eggs? Eagles do eat chicken eggs, just like any bird eggs they can hunt when hungry. Eagles can snatch a chicken egg without a hassle because of their strong and very sharp beaks and talons. They also eat crabs, small rodents, lizards, and other easy to catch animals.
How Do Eagles Kill Chickens?
If the chicken’s lungs have been pierced during an eagle attack, it’s just a matter of time before the chicken suffocates and dies. In this case, you will hear labored breathing, see blood bubbling between the feathers of the back, or you may even find a deep laceration or puncture wound into the back and spine. The far kinder choice is to kill a chicken with punctured lungs humanely.
Usually eagles drop down from above when killing chickens. They rarely swoop under an obstacle, roof, or net to catch prey.
The problem is that unless the eagle misses entirely, the chicken will likely have suffered severe injuries as the eagle pounces onto the chicken’s back, hooking their talons into the chicken’s back and breast. Chickens are quite fragile birds, and the chicken’s lungs are located just below its back, making it a soft spot for attacks.
An eagle relies on their size, speed, and razor-sharp talons to impale their prey and then carry them off to the eagle’s nest or perch for feeding. Eagles are solitary hunters, so if they attack with an early warning, the chickens should be able to find shelter, provided there is enough shelter for them.
What Kind of Eagle Catches Chickens?
Only two eagle species in North America are known to catch and eat chickens—the bald eagle and the golden eagle. These eagles are smart in catching their preys. Once the golden and bald eagles have no access to fish (which is an eagle’s common food) they will catch and fly whatever they can get, including chickens.
Other predatory birds that may snatch up a juicy hen include hawks, crows, and owls.
How Do I Protect My Chicken From An Eagle?
To protect your chicken from eagle, you must ensure the chicken coop is safe and secure. Bird nets can help avoid eagles to kill your chickens. You can also install multiple shelters for chickens to hide into, everytime they sense an eagle lurking around.
My chickens are free-range birds, and they have the run of the farm yard, with plenty of shaded shelter areas to chill and also feel safe. When I first started noticing my chickens were disappearing, I had to come up with a strategy to protect my little flock from airborne predators, and not just eagles.
Guarding Free-Range Chickens From Eagles
Free-ranging chickens are most at risk of being snatched up by a set of powerful claws from an aerial hunter like eagles. But there are a few things you can try.
Put Hiding Spots for Chickens to Hide Into Once There’s Eagle
Chickens can sense if there are nearby predators like eagles, so install safe spaces or hiding spots where they can hide out. Chickens aren’t stupid, despite what people think. If you have safe spaces where they can hide out, they will make a dash to safety if they see a predator or hear an alarm that a predator is around them.
I like to collect old cattle lick containers—those big plastic squares—upend them in the yard and cut some holes big enough for the chickens in the sides. Likewise, a couple of old tomato crates can also prove useful, though these will rot over time.
Planting a few shrubs with low-hanging branches is also a great way to ensure your chickens have a safe space to retreat. Plus, it provides some shade against the midday heat.
Hang Bright Metallic Objects to Fight Off Eagle From Chicken
Hanging a few old bits of mirror or CDs from the bushes and tree branches will help deter eagles and other predatory birds from your chickens. Eagles have excellent eyesight but don’t like distractions that confuse their sight. But if you have crows in the area, be warned that crows actually like shiny things and may come for a closer look.
Mix Chickens With Guinea Hens to Save Chickens From Eagles
Mix your flock and graze a few guinea hens with your chickens if you can. Guinea hens are very alert, and because they are less domesticated than chickens, they tend to be more vigilant on the lookout for predators.
Guinea hens are very noisy and will sound the alarm if they spot an eagle, hawk, or crow in the area. With this natural early warning system, the chickens can make a dash toward shelter.
Scare Eagles by Having Dogs or Cats to Guard Chicken Coop
When you’ve trained your little predators like dogs and cats to watch your chickens, you can rest assured that eagles and other predatory birds will think twice about dropping in unannounced. Believe it or not, not all dogs and cats eat chickens. But, ensure that they’re highly trained and comfortable with the chickens’ presence.
Remove Sick Chickens From Coop to Avoid Eagle’s Attraction
Because sick chickens make an easy meal for eagles, remove sick chickens from your coop to avoid the eagles getting attracted. A sickly chicken limping around among your flock will make for an appealing target to a passing eagle. Also, ensure you remove any dead birds, broken eggs, or dead chicks from the area, as these will attract all sorts of predators and scavengers (not to mention flies).
Birds of prey usually hunt fast-moving meals, but they are also opportunistic hunters, especially crows and hawks.
Attracting Crows To Attack Eagle From Chicken
Attracting crows to protect your chicken from eagle can be a good idea, but not highly recommended. Crows are considered chicken predators since they hunt chicks and steal chicken eggs. They don’t kill large chickens, making them a good eagle deterrent.
Crows and eagles don’t like each other. In fact, eagles will circle higher and try to reach an upward thermal wind to avoid the crows. Eagles aren’t scared of crows but they always get rid of them because they steal their food. Again, it’s all up to you to decide.
Fighting Eagle From Chicken When They’re Inside Coops
Some coops have an open roof section where predators can easily sneak in for a quick meal. Most homesteaders know to cover the top of their coop, but this isn’t always possible with a large open-air run. What now? Try these methods in addition to the free-ranging methods above:
Cover Chicken Coop With Bird Net or Hang Sections
If you can’t afford the cost of covering the whole chicken run area with bird net, you can hang sections that will deter the eagles from entering. Even running a few metallic cables with shiny ribbons across the coop will help limit the eagle’s options. Eagles have great vision and won’t likely attack a chicken coop with shiny objects.
Place Large Trees or Shrubs in Coop to Avoid Eagle’s Attention
Chicken shelters can also include large trees or shrubs in the coop. In this way, the chickens won’t easily get the attention of the eagle since they can’t be seen. You can also add branches and leaves to serve as camouflage. Keep in mind though that owls like to perch and launch on unsuspecting chickens that graze late afternoon and early evening.
Do Black Chickens Keep Eagles Away?
Eagles can be fooled by a large black rooster, which the eagle may mistake for a crow among the chickens. Having a large rooster among your chickens is a good natural deterrent to keep your flock safe from other predators.
When an eagle sees a crow, it triggers them to retreat. So if an eagle believes that a crow is already among your flock, they will go hunt elsewhere. This is helpful as you can easily fool an eagle with a fake crow sitting perched on a branch over your coop or in your yard if your chickens are free-range.
Eagles and crows don’t get along well. Because of the scavenger nature of crows, eagles often lose a meal to an opportunistic crowl. Crows also prey on chicks and all manner of birds, even an unattended bald eagle or golden eagle nest.
Caring for Your Injured Chickens After An Eagle Attack
Eagles are ferocious hunters, and their prey often dies when pierced by its, two-inch talons. However, even eagles can completely or partially miss when a chicken manages to wiggle free from their powerful grasp.
If your chicken got lucky in getting away from an eagle, it may have less severe injuries. You can treat the injured chicken with Vetericyn wound spray, which is antimicrobial (prevents infections).
Check your chicken for signs of broken bones, as a large eagle is much heavier and can most likely strike its prey at a hundred miles per hour. The impact on your chicken may include broken legs, wings, ribs, and other vital bones. Severe breaks may also mean the chicken is better off being humanely killed.
Ensure you clean any wounds, and use a natural blood clotting agent to stop any bleeding. Applying cornstarch can help stop the bleeding of minor wounds. For large-sized chickens, if the breast has been lacerated they may need the assistance of a vet to apply sutures or surgical tape to keep the wound closed.
Inspect the chicken regularly for signs of infection and administer electrolytes to help reduce stress and anxiety from the attack. Keep the chicken warm and dry as anemia may set in especially if the chicken lost lots of its plumage from the attack.
These measures may seem impractical to some, but to a homesteader with a prized breeding pair (which can be worth a substantial sum), or a family favorite chicken, quitting on their chicken is not a solution.
How to Treat An Injured Chicken from an Eagle Attack
- Use Vetericyn wound spray to prevent infection
- Look for signs of broken chicken bones
- Clean the wounds if there are no broken bones
- Use a natural blood clotting agent (like cornstarch) to stop bleeding
- Keep the chicken warm and dry
Protecting Chicken From Eagle FAQs
Once no food sources exist, eagles may turn to your chicken coop for a delicious chicken meal. As a farmer or homesteader, you must secure your chickens and protect them as much as you can.
Can You Kill An Eagle Attacking Chickens?
Eagles and most birds of prey are protected as endangered by federal U.S. law and may not be hunted, shot, poisoned, or otherwise killed. If you have a repeat problem with a bird of prey in your area that kills your chickens, you need to contact your local park and forest services for assistance, as you could face a prison sentence if you kill it.
Can A Chicken Beat An Eagle?
The short answer is no. Chickens can’t beat the strong talons of an eagle. Although you might hope they can, chickens are too small and vulnerable compared to an eagle. An eagle can easily snatch a chicken from its coop and tear its body apart without a hassle. That’s why, protecting your flock from eagles should be a priority for farmers and homesteaders.
Can A Rooster Kill An Eagle?
No, a rooster cannot kill an eagle despite of their far stronger abilities than normal chickens. They can, however, alert the flock to hide and protect themselves from the eagle’s dangerous talons. If you have roosters, you can place them with free-range chickens to guard them from any potential predators.
Why Do Eagles Target Chickens?
Eagles may hunt a chicken if there is a food shortage in the area. Normally, eagles eat fish so once it’s out, they can easily go to coops and find alternative food sources. In general, chickens aren’t an eagle’s natural source of food because they’re with humans– which eagles are scared of.
What Are Eagles Afraid Of?
Eagles fear large animals like bears or wolves, since they can get easily eaten by those animals. Eagles are also scared of humans. Adult eagles such as the bald eagle and the golden eagle don’t have natural predators, unless they are injured and face an opportunistic predator. However, eagle chicks and eggs are vulnerable to predators like squirrels, ravens, crows, and raccoons.
What Breed of Chicken is The Most Protective of its Flock?
Roosters are the most protective chickens in a flock and will do their best to keep chickens safe from harm. When choosing a rooster for the protection duty of your flock, you can confidently choose a Buff Orpington.
You can also pick an Australorp (which also resembles a black crow to an eager eagle), or a Rhode Island Red rooster to keep your flock protected by fighting with a predator if needed.
Since some of my chickens disappeared, I have covered up my coop and my free-range area where the chickens are during the day. My kind neighbor has given me an Australorp rooster, and I am eager to see if this large black rooster with fierce eyes and bright red comb will tussle with an eagle to keep his hens safe (though my neighbor swears these roosters are the solution to my fears).
Chickens are easy prey to eagles, hawks, and crows if they aren’t protected and without a good shelter to hide in when a predator is in the area. However, with a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can create a safe haven for your flock.
If an eagle happens to snatch at a chicken and damage a leg, your chicken may have to learn to live with only one functioning leg. Luckily, we have a handy guide on one-legged chickens to help you support them better.
My Favorite Chicken and Duck Supplies
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Manna Pro Oyster Shell keeps eggs strong. Before I gave my chickens oyster shell, I had the oddest eggs, many with weak and irregular shells. Now, I don’t have an issue.
Layer Feed by Manna Pro. I like pellets rather than crumbles as my chickens eat them better and less gets wasted or scavenged by rodents. A good layer feed makes the difference in hens laying many more eggs.
My chickens love this mealworm treat, which gives added protein, something that’s great during molting and winter months.
There are many ways to feed and water your chickens. I like this food and water setup the best because it reduces waste, saves me time feeding and watering, and keeps the food fresh longer. Except, in the winter, I use a heated waterer. The only problem is the heated waterers need to be replaced every few years.
I love this chicken veggie hanger. It makes it easy to give your chickens produce from the garden and keep them occupied in the winter with a fresh head of lettuce.
These chicken toys are a hoot! They will help curb bullying and keep your chickens active, especially in the winter when hens tend to get more lethargic.