Do Eagles Eat Chickens? Understanding Threats and Safety Measures


Four majestic eagles perching on a tree branch


Taking care of chickens can be a lot of fun. But it can also be a little scary because of predators like eagles. 

Eagles are big, impressive birds that fly high in the sky. They have sharp eyes and can see small things from way up there. 

And chickens hanging out in your backyard can be one of those things. Eagles might fly down fast and snatch a chicken before anyone knows what happened.

But is this something you need to worry about? Do eagles eat chickens? 

And if they do, how can you keep your chickens safe? There's a lot to think about.

Let's dig into this, learn more about eagles, and see what we can do to keep our chickens safe and happy.

Eagle Behavior and Characteristics

Eagles, with their stunning looks and incredible skills, are nature's remarkable predators. 

But what makes them so good at hunting?

Why can they be a threat to backyard poultry like your chickens?

Eagles are big birds known for their massive wingspan and impressive flying speed. 

Their wings span from 5 to 8 feet, and some can fly up to 99 miles per hour! Talk about a serious advantage when hunting.


A big, powerful, Golden Eagle showing off its sharp claws and strong wings


When catching prey, eagles come well-equipped with sharp talons and an incredibly strong grip. 

Their razor-sharp beaks can easily snatch up and bring down their prey. Which, unfortunately, could include your chickens.

Something else that sets eagles apart is their extraordinary eyesight. 

Believe it or not, an eagle's vision is 4-8 times better than ours. It helps them spot potential prey, like your chickens, from far away with amazing accuracy.

But it's crucial to remember that eagles are also opportunistic hunters. 

They won't always go after your chickens, but if the chance arises, they'll pounce. 

Their goal is survival, and if a meal is available, they'll take it.

By understanding how eagles behave and what makes them such skilled hunters, we can better comprehend their risks to our backyard chickens. 

 And most importantly—learn effective preventive measures to keep our precious flock safe, which we'll explore later in this guide.

How Do Eagles Attack Chickens?

So, how likely is it that an eagle would attack your chickens?

The simple answer is - it depends.

Eagles are sometimes out looking for chickens to catch. As we said before, eagles are "opportunistic hunters." 

That means they catch what is easy and available. 

If an eagle is flying high above your backyard and spots your chickens, it might see an opportunity for an easy meal.

We should know that eagles get hungry, just like every other living creature.

When hungry, they might take more risks and go after unusual targets.

 If a hungry eagle sees your chickens - especially if they are young, small, or of a smaller breed - it could decide to swoop.

Another big factor in all this is accessibility.

Are your chickens easy to get to? 

If your chickens roam free in your yard without any sort of cover or protection, then they might be easier targets. 

A flock of chickens eating outside the yard with feeds scrumpled on the ground

An eagle will target your chickens depending on several factors, including:


  • Hunger level
  • Size and breed
  • If chickens are easy to spot and reach

    Can Eagles Carry Off Chickens?

    When you picture an eagle attack, you might wonder if an eagle can carry off one of your chickens. 

    After all, chickens can be quite large compared to other birds, which seems difficult.

    The simple answer to this question is:

    Yes. Eagles can pick up and carry chickens.

    Eagles have very powerful wings and strong nails, which are their claws. These nails are more than just sharp. They are strong enough to grab onto a chicken and hold it tightly. 

    They can then use their powerful wings to fly away with the chicken.

    However, the size of the chicken matters here.

     A fully grown, large-breed chicken might be too heavy for some eagles. But a smaller breed or a younger chicken may be the right size for an eagle to carry away comfortably.

    When an eagle attacks, it doesn't always carry off the chicken immediately. 

    Sometimes, it can use its sharp beak and claws to kill the chicken on the spot before flying away with it. 

    So, while not every eagle can carry off every chicken, it is a definite risk. It's something to consider when you're thinking about how to keep your chickens safe.

    This is another reason why it's so important to take steps to protect your chickens, which we'll talk about in a later section.

    How To Keep Eagles Away From Chickens?

    Now that we understand how eagles behave and why they might target your chickens, here are practical preventive measures to safeguard your flock from eagle attacks:

    1. Construct a Sturdy Chicken Coop

    Building a secure coop is your first defense against eagles and other predators. The make of your pen is crucial to how safe your chickens will be. 

    For a start, make sure that it has a solid roof. This prevents eagles from diving in for a quick snatch and grab. 

    Secondly, think about the walls. It's not just about going high but also about how secure they are. The walls of your coop must be robust, with no gaps or holes. 

    This careful construction eliminates the possibility of an eagle—or any other predator—finding a way to sneak in.

    Some of the chicken predators that are most likely to attack from the ground include:

    So, building a strong chicken coop is highly recommended to keep chickens away from these lurking predators.

    2. Use Bird Netting as an Overhead Cover

    Giving your chickens space to roam about is good for their happiness and health. But it's necessary to make this space safe as well. 

    One way to add a layer of protection is by installing a cover over the roaming area or the chicken run. It creates a barrier that eagles will have trouble getting through, thus keeping your chickens safe.

    Use strong bird netting as an overhead cover. It's robust, and the small gaps in the netting mean that eagles won't have the space to reach in and snatch your chickens while pecking around.

    Consider this "tangle-free bird netting” protection measure.  It's easy to put up, saves you time, and you won't have to deal with any mess. It's perfect for making your chicken coop safe quickly.


    3. Clear Out Perching Spots

    Eagles like to perch, scout their surroundings, and plan their attack. So reducing any potential 'watch points' near your coop is a smart move.


    A bald eagle perched on a tree branch looking for prey

    4. Bring in a Rooster

    If you've been thinking about adding a rooster to the clan, you might be on to something. Roosters are known for vigilance and can alert the flock when danger looms. Plus, they've been known to put on a brave face and protect their ladies.

    5. Get some Guinea Hens

    Guinea hens are not only incredibly noisy, but their squawking can serve as an early warning sign. The moment they spot a threat, they'll inform everybody about it, giving your chickens time to hide.

    Two Guinea hens running around the yard during the daytime hours.


    6. Deploy Guard Animals

    A well-trained dog, especially if it's a guardian breed, can be pretty intimidating to eagles. But remember, they need to be well-behaved enough not to turn on your chickens. Whatever you choose as your guard animal, make sure it knows which side it's on.

    7. Use Visual Deterrents

    Things with glitz and sparkles like shiny objects, scarecrows, or any reflective materials—can confuse the eagle. This will convince them that your yard is no safe place to hunt. 

    Motion-activated devices are an excellent addition to this mix. It can help make your chicken coop less appealing to these aerial predators.


    Eagles: Legal Considerations

    Eagles are very special birds, and in many places, they are protected by law. This means you cannot harm or kill an eagle, even if it is trying to attack your chickens.

    You might wonder: What can I do, then, if an eagle is trying to get my chickens?

    Let's talk about things you can do that are within the law.

    1. Call Animal Control or Local Wildlife Services

    If an eagle often comes to your yard and you can't scare it away, you can call your local animal control or wildlife service. They may be able to help move the eagle to a new place, far from your chickens.

    2. Apply for a Depredation Permit

    In some places, if eagles or other birds of prey are causing big problems, you can apply for a special permit. This permit might allow you to take certain actions to protect your chickens. Always check with local rules and laws before doing this.

    3. Hire a Professional

    If you can't solve the problem alone, hiring a professional might be a good idea. Professionals know a lot about eagles and can help solve the problem in a safe, legal way.

    Remember, keeping your chickens safe is very important, but it's also important to respect wildlife and follow the law. 

    With a little work and understanding, you can keep your chickens safe from eagles in a good way for everyone.

    Final Word

    Yes, eagles can indeed snatch up chickens for a meal. They don't always do it, but when they see an easy chance, they might take it.

    Nature is full of opportunities. Eagles thrive on them, just like many other creatures. 

    But that doesn't mean our chickens are doomed. Far from it! 

    While there's a risk, there's also plenty of chances for us to step in and safeguard our feathery friends.

    Follow the prevention measures and safety tips we discussed. Let’s create a secure environment where our feathered friends can thrive without constant worry about eagle attacks.

    Stay vigilant!

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