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.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Will the hawk eat all my birds?

I have just witnessed a hawk fly right by me when I was filling water for the birds in my yard yesterday afternoon.  That same morning I saw it fly by my shepherd hook birdfeeder and all the birds and squirrels ran or flew off.  The hawk appeared to swoop down further down my yard where I couldn't see from my window if it snatched up a bird.  Two days ago, was the first time I saw one perched on our back fence in the early evening with its back towards our backyard just looking around then flew off.  
I was startled and at the same time scared.  I just bought a new bird feeding station at WBU. Now, I am afraid to feed the birds.  I feel like they are Hawk bait just waiting to happen.  Yes, the Hawk is a magnificent bird, but I don’t want to witness it eating my backyard birds.  I feel like taking all my bird feeding items back to the WBU store which I haven’t opened yet, and just quit feeding the birds altogether. I'm crushed.  I still have a Robin around and a very cute and friendly Chickadee whom is not afraid to come close to me when I am filling the feeder.  If he, the Robin, or any of the other beautiful birds get eaten I will be truly heartbroken and sick.

I came across your article about Hawks visiting birdfeeders when I was trying to look for some solutions to this problem.  I guess there really isn’t any one.  Is there? 

There is a natural order. Hawks eat squirrels and other rodents as well as a few birds. But crows, jays and small songbirds dive-bomb hawks, as a strategy to survival. Prey species can band together to try and chase the hawks out of the area. If they can't do that, you will at least hear an alert call to warn other birds that danger is near.

You have to remind yourself that nature is real. Weather happens, predators and prey happen, and lots of life happens. Bird watching, to my mind, has an honesty that comes from the built-in acknowledgement of the natural elements that dance in and out of view and are woven through our encounter with nature.

I can't remember a time I haven't fed the birds, from the common House Sparrows to the surprise visits of birds like the teeny tiny kinglets. I think all birds are a wonder and continue to fascinate me every day! Birds give me peace. They are everywhere and have survived for centuries even with massive global changes.

Currently one third of the U.S. populations feed the birds in their yards. They watch the birds in the winter to brighten the long, dark, dreary days, and then watch the beautiful migratory birds that come in the spring all excited for nesting. Next comes watching the baby birds at the feeders demanding food from parents and finally the large variety of birds that gather after nesting to make the long journey south or to bulk up for winter again.

In the summer you’ll see different birds at your feeders than you do during winter, like hummingbirds and other nectar-eating birds. And many such as orioles, finches and warblers, show off their vibrant spring and summer plumage spreading color throughout your yard.

Birds only supplement their diet up to 10 to 20 percent at feeders. Most birds like to forage for food. And most native flowers, bushes, and trees like birds to help pollinate their flowers, eat harmful insects, and disperse their seeds. Landscaping your yard to provide native plant cover and natural foods for birds is also good way to attract birds and provide them with sanctuary.

I think you need to go back to your WBU store to discuss your concerns. ~ Sarah

Hi Sarah, Thanks for replying and sharing your thoughts and information with me.

I’ve always loved birds, too.  My parents would always feed them, and I would be part of that. I’ve learned to have compassion and enjoy their simple beauty from them.   I’ve raised two baby robins until they were ready to go on their own.  This past summer I had two baby Mourning Doves hatch in my hanging flower pot.  They two flew off when they were ready with no interference from me.  They were just darling.  I've always loved nature and animals and continued since I was a little girl to seek refuge in their peace and beauty.  Nature has always been a wonder and beauty for me.

I know there is a natural order concerning the food chain.  I find some comfort and assurance with the information you have given me about how birds survive predators.  I am going o continue to feed the birds and set up my new feeding station as I have planned. Thank you.

Related Articles:


Tina Coruth said...

Good article. I've seen a hawk swoop down and get a bird. It is heart-breaking, but as you said, it is a part of nature. I've also seen small birds chase a hawk away. That is amazing. Although both scenarios occur whether or not there are bird feeders, I would miss out on so much if I chose not to have feeders. Your advice is very good - I'm glad the reader has chosen to keep the bird feeders!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Thank you for commenting. I'm pretty sensitive myself so I understood her comments. On the other hand, as you say, a lot of what birds do is amazing. Attracting them for close observation has always been a fun.