How to Keep Owls Away ~ 7 Tips for Deterring and Getting Rid of an Owl

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Owls are majestic and beautiful creatures that many people find fascinating. However, if you have small pets or keep chickens or other vulnerable farm critters, owls can be a threat to your animals. While you may understand that owls are a needed animal in nature’s life cycle, you may not want them around your property. 

I explain how to keep owls away from your property. There are many things you can do to deter owls. I explain owl deterrents along with ways to keep owls away from chickens and pets.

Some people might consider harvesting owls that are bothering a flock of chickens or another loved animal. However, you should never do this. Harvesting owls is illegal. They are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This law makes shooting an owl a federal crime.

This does not mean that you just have to allow the owl to pick off your beloved pets one at a time. There are many things you can do to protect your critters and make your property as unappealing as possible for owls. Use these tips and learn how to keep owls away. 

How to Keep Owls Away

Owls are predators that are at the top of the food chain. While you may keep chickens for eggs or a puppy as a companion, to an owl, these animals are just a meal.

If you do not have any problems with owls but worry about owls eating chickens and pets, pay attention to your yard. Is your property appealing to owls? The idea of deterring owls is to make your property as un-hospitable to an owl family as possible.

Owl Deterrents

There are many ways to deter owls. Think about what owls like and then do the opposite.

1. Make it unappealing for pests

First, remember that owls love eating animals like snakes, songbirds, rats, mice, and voles. They’ll eat larger mammals such as rabbits and squirrels too. If you can make your yard unwelcoming to these prey animals, you will go a long way toward avoiding any owl problems.

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You should keep your plants, bushes and trees trimmed neatly and avoid having any brush piles on the perimeter of the yard. Keep things mowed and trimmed very well because the typical owl prey like places with lots of weedy cover. So do pests.

2. Remove bird feeders and bird baths

You may want to take down any bird feeders that you have hanging in your yard. A major source of an owl’s diet can be song birds, so if you’re trying to deter owls, you won’t want to attract birds. You should avoid having any bird baths in your yard as well.

3. Install lighting

Another kind of owl deterrent is light. Owls prefer to hunt under cover of darkness, so having a well-lit landscape during the dark hours can make owls choose another place to hunt.

Add exterior lights on the outside of your home. These lights may have a light sensor that you can set, so they will come on at dusk and go off during the daylight hours.

4. Remove perches

Owls like to perch on high, horizontal branches, especially in dead trees. Look around your landscape and trim trees to keep them from becoming potential roosting spots for owls. 

While there is nothing you can do about towering power and electrical poles in your neighborhood, there’s a lot you can do on your property to remove perching spots to deter owls. 

5. Cover hollows

Additionally, to keep owls from nesting, you can cover any hollows you find in trees with wire mesh. Chimneys can also be potential nesting places for owls, so cover these with wire mesh too. Consider openings in a shed or barn as well.

There are some types of owls which will nest in the cavities in fallen logs. Some owls will nest in the top of a dead tree or a tree in which the top has broken off. Others will make homes in snags which are dead trees which haven’t fallen over yet. Remove potential nesting areas when possible.  

6. Make noise

Scaring owls is another way to deter these birds of prey. You can do this by making noise at dusk. Loud talking, yelling, shouting, and clapping will make enough noise to keep owls away. Things like lawnmowers, weed eaters, and chainsaws are owl deterrents. 

Owls will avoid contact with humans. Increasing human activity at dusk will help to deter owls. Dog barking — if it’s a large dog and not a target — will also help keep them away.

If you have nearby neighbors, this may be difficult to do on a regular basis but if you have an owl problem, doing this for several days will help keep owls away.

deter owls by pruning trees
Deter owls by pruning trees and removing dead branches 

7. Thin trees

Some owls like the dense cover trees can provide. Pruning and thinning trees will go a long way toward creating less habitable perches and nests for owls. 

How to keep owls away from chickens
Protect chickens and small pets at dusk and at night to keep them safe from owls

How to Keep Owls Away from Chickens

Chickens can be very vulnerable to being dive-bombed by birds like owls and hawks. Certain types of owls that are larger, like great horned owls, will attack chickens. However, one of the good things about chickens is they are usually active at the times of day when owls are sleeping. Most species of owls are nocturnal, or active only at night. 

1. Secure chicken coop

Chickens need a secure hen house where they can roost when the sun starts to go down. Chickens always go to their pen when it starts to get dark, so as long as you shut the door of their coop at when it is dark, they should generally be safe from owl attack.

2. Don’t let chickens out at dawn

Do not allow your hens out of their pen very early in the morning. Wait until it is fully daylight before you open the door to let them free-range in the daytime. 

3. Secure the top of the chicken run 

There are a few species of owls that are active during the daylight hours. If one of these owls sets up shop in your area, you may want to consider building a secure run for your chickens. Cover the run with sturdy netting on top to protect the hens from an attack by an owl. Learn do skunks eat chickens.

4. Have cover

Do you free-range your chickens? If you have a lawn with little cover, your chickens will be more vulnerable to air attack while foraging. However, if you have small trees and shrubs under which the chickens can hide, they may not be as prone to being attacked by owls.

5. Use chicken waterers instead of open bowls in uncovered areas

Chicken waterers are designed so the chickens can access them but owls and unwanted pests cannot. If you keep open bowls of water on your property, spill them out before dusk.

6. Keep a rooster

You can also keep a rooster to scare owls away. A rooster will aggressively attack any animal that is trying to hurt the hens in his flock.

The downside of this plan is that some roosters are overly aggressive and will also be difficult for humans to raise. If you keep a rooster, pay close attention to it when you enter the pen to care for the chickens. You will need gently show him who is boss so he doesn’t attack you.

7. Raise large chickens that blend in with their surroundings

Another way to keep owls away from chickens is to choose chicken breeds that are less likely to be spotted by owls. Chickens that have feathers that blend in with their surroundings may be less visible. So, for instance, you may want to choose brown-feathered hens over chickens with white feathers.

Large chicken breeds, such as Jersey Giants, will also be less prone to an owl attack than small chickens. Bantam chickens, since they are smaller, will be more vulnerable to attack than larger, heavier breeds.

how to get rid of an owl killing chickens
Clean up grasses and wood piles on your property.

How to Keep Owls Away from Dogs and Cats

Owls will be on the hunt and will easily snatch small pets. The single best thing you can do to protect your dogs and cats is to keep them penned up in a safe place.

This is particularly important at dusk / the pre-dark hours, overnight and in the very early hours of the morning is when most owls are active. If you have dogs and cats that are outdoor only, you should put them in a pen that has an owl-proof top on it.

You may need to buy sturdy netting or another cover for your dog run if he likes to spend the night outside in his pen. Be sure your small dog is put in his pen and not roaming the yard when it starts to get dark.

If you can, put out some exterior lights in the places where your pet dog and cat like to roam during the night hours. This will help them avoid owl attacks since owls like hunting in the dark.

You can also buy collars for your furry friends that have strobe lights on the collar. The strobe light may confuse owls that have plans to eat your pets.

How to Get Rid of an Owl

Once you have a problem with an owl, it can be hard to get rid of it. Owls will come back to places where they have had successful hunts until they cannot find more prey. This means that your chickens could be picked off one at a time until there are no more birds for the owl to eat.

To get an owl to move on, you can try any of the above suggestions. Add lighting to your yard, secure chicken areas, pens and pets from attack, and take down your bird feeders that attract songbirds and other birds.

Something simple such as placing solar ground lights near pet areas and chicken coops can be helpful.

You should also do a big time clean up in your yard. Burn your brush piles, trim back overgrown shrubs and trees, and cut neglected, grassy areas of the landscape. Get rid of an owl by getting rid of natural landscaping which attracts them.

1. Roosting spikes

There’s not much you can do about owls choosing areas to roost on top of your home, garage, shed, barn or fences. However, there is something you can do on a smaller scale.

You can buy devices called roosting spikes to put in any places where the owl likes to roost. These pointy, steel or plastic spikes you install on tree branches and other places where an owl might perch near your home.

The owl will no longer be able to perch comfortably and may move on to more comfortable places. Once installed, you will not have to maintain the spikes. They can stay in place indefinitely.

2. Shine light

Another tactic to drive an owl away from your yard is to figure out where he is perching at night. Go out with a flashlight or another bright light and shine the light directly on the owl several times in the evening, multiple nights in a row. This might annoy the owl enough that he finds a new home.

3. Loud noise

You may also want to use loud noise to pester the owl. You can use an air horn or a whistle to make a racket, but be sure your neighbors are far enough away that they won’t be annoyed by the sounds as well.

4. Owl decoy

Owls do not like to nest in crowded areas because they are very territorial. You might be able to install a large, round mirror in a favorite perching place. Seeing its own reflection will make the owl believe that another owl has moved into its territory and the owl will hopefully move away.

You can also buy a fake owl which will accomplish the same purpose as the mirror. You may want to move the owl decoy in various places in your yard every few days to help the impression that an owl is claiming your yard as a nesting area. If you have the budget, instead of moving it, you can buy several owl decoys and leave them around your property. They will last for years.

Ways to Get Rid of Owls

In general, owls and raptors are helpful birds of prey because they keep the pest population in check. They eat snakes and pests, including rodents such rats and mice. Many people want to learn how to attract owls in order to control the pests near their home. Keeping pests away will keep owls away.

Use these tips to get rid of owls. Remember, keeping up with property maintenance will go a long way toward deterring owls. It’s easier to keep owls away by being proactive with deterrents than trying to get an owl to leave. In the meantime, be vigilant about your chickens and pets, and keep them safe.

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Featured image credit: Ondrisek, Yay Images