How to Keep Wild Birds Out of the Chicken Coop

Are wild birds invading your chicken coop? Chasing away the wild birds and preventing them from entering your chickens’ coop can be an exhausting task.

So what can you do? This article will help keep your chickens safe from birds of prey and stop smaller birds from stealing their feed. 

Why Is It Important to Keep Wild Birds Away From Your Chickens? 

3 sparrows on the lookout for food

Prevent the Spread of Avian Diseases

Wild birds may carry diseases that can infect your chickens. Wild birds carry the avian flu, which can be spread to your flocks through contact with their feed and surrounding structures. 

If wild birds are invading your chicken coop, they may also leave their droppings inside next to eating, drinking and bedding areas. This exposure can spread diseases throughout the enclosure affecting the health of your chickens.

You may not notice right away if your chickens are infected. A small infection may cause a mild illness that presents with lowered egg production. But if the birds carry a stronger form of the virus, such as HPAI (a highly pathogenic avian influenza), the impact can be devastating. This form of the disease can quickly spread to the entire flock cause severe illness or death. 

Keep Chickens Safe From Birds of Prey

hawk perching on a fence

Hawks, Owls, and Falcons are especially dangerous to an unprotected flock. They will perch high in the trees and swoop down on your unsuspecting chickens. These birds may kill your chicken right in the pen or carry them away to feed their own offspring. 

Magpies and crows are also a problem for the chicken coop. They are known to kill young chicks or eat and steal your chicken eggs. 

Keep Smaller Birds From Stealing the Chicken Feed

Smaller wild birds such as sparrows and doves are a nuisance to many chicken owners since they steal your chicken feed. This can become very expensive quickly. No one wants to keep on refilling your chicken feeder, only to have a swarm of wild birds swoop in and clean it out. 

Build or Update Your Chicken Coop Enclosure to Keep Wild Birds Out

chickens behind a poultry fence

Determine The Type of Wild Birds in Your Area

Before building a new chicken coop or making modifications to an existing one, first take notes on the type of wild birds in the area. Do you have sparrows and doves munching on your chicken feed? Or are there birds of prey, such as owls and hawks circling above? 

Observing the chickens’ activity and the wild birds in your area will help you determine what type of structure you need to keep the birds out. 

Modify Your Chicken Run to Protect Your Chickens from Birds of Prey

Keeping your chickens safe is always a priority. If you have hungry birds preying on your chickens, it is better to build an enclosed chicken coop to secure your chickens. A covered run can provide a safe way for your chickens to forage. A mobile chicken run is another option to safeguard your birds while giving them to different areas of your farm.

But, don’t restrict your chickens too severely. You still want the chickens to have plenty of access to open ground and fresh air. Finding a balance is key. 

enclosure with roof for chickens

Here are a few ways to secure your chickens from airborne predators.

  • The chicken coop should have a secure door that can be closed and locked.
  • If you free-range your birds, consider adding an enclosed run to give them a safe place to forage.
  • If you already have an open chicken run, add additional roofs or screens on top to deny these wild birds access. Chicken wire can work well here. 
  • If you cannot add a roof, then install reflective surfaces or mirrors in strategic areas on top of your chicken coop and around the side of the runs. Many retailers carry scare tape in rolls that are easily applied to these surfaces. 

Update Your Enclosure to Prevent Small Birds From Stealing Chicken Feed

sparrows on the ground hunting for feed

Sparrows are the most troublesome wild birds we find around the chicken coop. Doves, starlings, house martins, and even seagulls can also be a problem in some areas. All of these birds will make a feast out of your chicken feeders if they are left unprotected. 

Use bird netting to block the entry of small birds from stealing and eating your chicken feed. Attach the netting from the sides of your chicken run to the chicken coop, so no birds can fly in. In addition to the netting, here are a few other ways to keep smaller birds away from the feeding area. 

  • Install a vent cover to keep sparrows and other small birds from nesting inside your chicken coop vents.
  • Remove perches from the chicken coop roof, such as long roof overhangs or eaves. 
  • Relocate any wild bird feeders to a location far away from your chicken feeders.

Additional Steps You Can Take To Keep Wild Birds Away From Your Chicken Coop

woman feeding her chickens in the barn

Monitor Your Chicken Coop Regularly

Inspect for Damage. Routinely inspect the structure of your chicken coop. Is there any damaged or broken material that allows wild birds to enter your chicken coop? Check fencing, doors, and netting for any holes or weakened sections.  

Check for Nearby Bird Nests. Walk around your chicken coop to determine if there are any wild birds nesting on top of your chicken coop or in the surrounding areas. Remove the nests and discourage new nest-building activity. If there are hidden nests, this could be why the wild birds keep on coming back. 

Never Leave Excess Amount of Chicken Feed on their Feeding Stations

hens eating from an open bowl with chicken feed

Only give your chickens enough feed for the day. If they are fed outside, you can also remove the feeder once your chickens have enjoyed their meal. Excess chicken feed attracts the small birds, especially when the feed is left out in the open. 

All birds are routinely on the lookout for easy sources of food, water, and shelter. Leaving a large amount of food and water is just an open invitation for all the birds in your neighborhood to come over and enjoy the feast. You should also try to keep both food and water inside the chicken coop where wild birds do not have access to them. 

Replace Any Open Feeders With A Wild Bird Proof Chicken Feeder

hanging chicken feeder with rooster

Several designs can work well here. Lever-operated feeders work very well where a small lever needs to be pressed to dispense the seed. Small birds are too light to activate the feeder. Other good choices are raised hanging feeders or enclosed poultry feeders with an access port designed for chickens. 

Scare the Wild Birds With Ornaments and Decoys

Add Shiny Objects.  Some owners use shiny objects such as CDs, aluminum foil, or wind chimes to scare the wild birds away from their chickens’ coop. Hang these items from the ceiling, so they swing gently back and forth. The reflected light scares the birds, so they won’t enter the area. 

Mount a Decoy. You can also use a decoy or any objects that look like a predator such as cats, owls, or larger prey of birds to scare them away. It can be made of wood, metal, or any material as long as it seems real.

Home Depot carries a good owl decoy whose head swivels. The motion helps to trick the wild birds into thinking the owl is watching them, ready to swoop down at any moment for a meal.

Put the decoy in an area that wild birds can easily see, but make sure to change the location frequently, so it seems more realistic. Otherwise, the birds can eventually get accustomed to it and will lose its effectiveness. Also, watch your chickens’ behavior to make sure the decoy is not upsetting them. 

rooster standing guard outside of an enclosed coop

Summary

There are many ways to keep wild birds out of your chicken coop, but the most effective way is to regularly monitor your chicken coop and block all their possible access. 

Wild birds are a problem on many farms, but with a little persistence, you should be able to keep them away from your coops and chickens. 

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