In our area, many people still use the old term “chicken hawk” to refer to redtailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks. This term is a misnomer. Although these birds will occasionally opportunistically prey on chickens that aren’t properly secured, chickens comprise only a tiny portion of their diets and are generally larger than their preferred prey. The vast majority of animals eaten by “chicken hawks” are rats, mice, snakes, rabbits, starlings, and chipmunks.
It’s always a good idea to keep your livestock in a pen or coop that is secured top to bottom. This protects them not only birds of prey, but also dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. But the “chicken hawks” in your neighborhood are actually much more interested in rats than chickens.