About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What to do when there is a hawk in your yard

In late summer there is a lot of hawk activity in Michigan. Although we have hawks year-round in mid-Michigan some of the northern hawks are migrating south and young hawks have just become independent.

Dolly (cat) and I were just watching all the baby finches out the window. I was telling her they were easy pickings with lots of crunchy bits. A hawk must have heard the baby bird calls and thought the same thing. He didn't get a finch but a sparrow (perhaps plumper). The hawk looked like a young Cooper's Hawk based on the yellow eyes, size, rounded tail and thick vertical chest streaks.

What do you do when a hawk visits? I watch a little bit and then avert my eyes when the feathers start to fly. The presence of hawks at your feeders should in no way cause you to discontinue feeding birds. The Cooper’s Hawk, must catch and eat at least one item of prey every day to survive. Sparrows are the most frequent prey at the store. These hawks also eat small rodents, such as mice, chipmunks and voles.

Twenty minutes after the "incident" the birds were back at the feeders.

Additional steps to take if you have hawks in your yard:
  • First and foremost, federal and state laws prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks and owls. Raptors attracted to bird feeding stations are a problem only when they perch nearby all day. The birds return as soon as the Hawk flies away. So enjoy a close-up look at these magnificent birds while they are in your yard.
  • If you feed birds, place your feeders where there is ample natural protection. Evergreen shrubs and trees can provide an easy escape for the birds.
  • Keep in mind hawks in the neighborhood play an important role in controlling bird and rodent populations and usually ignore cats, dogs, and people.
  • Ultimately, the only thing you can do when a hawk comes to dinner is wait it out. Most hawks that visit only do so for two or three weeks and then they are off again to different territory.
Related Articles:
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk comes for a visit http://bit.ly/w1fDRM
Can You Scare a Hawk Away? http://bit.ly/w3vz5B
Small birds attack hawk http://bit.ly/sH68yB
Frozen Woodpecker http://bit.ly/ubSCTR
Is it safe to feed the birds out in the open? http://bit.ly/rBErxI

1 comment:

Nikki P said...

I have a bird feeder right outside my office window and I feed the birds (and squirrels!) year round because I love their visits. We had a Cooper's Hawk visiting here for a few weeks. I was just like you - I thought he was magnificent to look at, until he snatched one of my birds and I saw feathers flying. It was heartbreaking but I try to remember that it's the circle of life. (I just wish he didn't have to grab the birds right in front of my eyes!) I thought he was never going to go away, but like you said, a few weeks passed and we (knock on wood!) haven't seen him since.