As determined by their nature, many birds of prey like owls and hawks hunt small animals and while we’d be happier if they could tell the difference between a pet and wild prey, they cannot. Consequently, pet owners are often fearful of birds of prey as they have been known to attack small dogs, puppies, cats and kittens, rabbits, or other defenseless birds like ducks or chickens. Clearly small pets are going to be at the biggest risk, but all pet owners should be vigilant about the risks posed by birds of prey.
First, it’s important to understand that birds of prey do not hunt for sport. If they are going after your pet, it is because they are hungry or because they are protecting their territory. Among the most common pet attackers are Great Horned owls, Northern goshawks, and Red-tailed hawks; yet any owl, hawk, or falcon will attack a pet if they feel hungry or endangered enough.
There are many things a pet owner can do to protect their pets from birds of prey. Obviously, if you have these birds living near your home you should never leave your pets unsupervised. Hungry birds of prey are less likely to attack when there are larger animals nearby, namely you, the owner. When pets are left unsupervised, they should have a covered cage for protection. Pets should also have outdoor cover like a sheltered run. If this isn’t possible, leash your pets near natural cover like a tree or shrubs so they are not visible from the air.
Also, if you must leave your pet outdoors, make sure he has a companion. Birds of prey are less likely to attack if they fear the other animals will defend or steal their prey. And finally, never feed your pet outdoors. When pets are eating, their defenses are down and they will likely not notice an impending bird attack.