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Hawks In Your Backyard.
January 25, 2016

We have all recovered around here.

No more aches, pains, dizziness, headaches, or other symptoms.

Thanks for your prayer and concerns.

Don't panic, but you have but 11 months to get ready for Christmas.

No matter where you live, you can't change the weather.

Whether it is an abundance of rain, dumped on by feet of snow, sub-zero temperatures, or heat and humidity.

No matter where you live, there is always the weather to love or hate.

Prayers continue for the many that have suffered and lost loved ones from weather events.

Days are slowly growing longer as we count down to planting season.

I must say that the full moon and moon shadows on the fresh snow this past week, was another example of God's beauty that is found in everything.

(January's full moon is called the Wolf moon.)

The snow appeared as white glitter and the shadows cast were inspiring.

Snickers is trying to get her new harness off, she works it over from time to time.

Maybe she knows it's a kitten harness.

We haven't found a dog harness small enough, just yet.

If you feed birds, you have probably experienced, or have seen tell tale signs of hawk attacks.

Backyard hawks and a few pointers.


This is a large, adult female Cooper's with a starling, from a few winters ago in my yard.)

It can be an amazing sight to see a hawk descend into a backyard, but many birders prefer to protect their backyard birds from hawks rather than contribute to a predator’s meals.

Often it happens so fast you don't have time to react (chase it away).

Now imagine the birds in your yard.

While it may not be possible to completely prevent hawks from visiting a backyard where small birds are regularly fed, there are many ways to give backyard birds an edge over aerial predators.

Nothing is guaranteed, yet anything to slow the predator is better than watching your birds get picked off one by one.

The most common backyard hawks are all smaller birds of prey, the

Cooper's Hawk and Sharp-shinned hawk Cooper's hawk is the larger of the two and much more, and while Sharpies have a more expanded territory, Cooper's are more common in most locations.


American Kestrel (pictured) sometimes called a sparrow hawk is actually North America's smallest falcon.

While larger hawks like the Red-tailed hawk will visit backyards to prey on small birds, it doesn't happen to often.

Cooper's and Sharpies are fast, agile fliers that are well adapted to flying around feeders, buildings and trees to catch small, panicked birds.

Short wings and long tails, created for open woodland and field hunting work well for maneuvering between trees, buildings and houses.

It is important to remember that even though it may be disheartening to see a songbird fall victim to a hawk, the hawks are only playing their role in nature’s cycle and they do not kill more birds than needed to survive.

Studies estimate that only 10 percent of a hawk’s kills are successful, and of those, the majority of the birds the hawk takes are old, weak or sick and removing them from the flock will help strengthen the remaining birds.

Protecting Backyard Birds From Hawks:

(Adult Sharp-shinned hawk)

You and I, the backyard birder, prefer to offer the most possible protection for their resident flocks have several options to foil a hawk’s hunt.


Providing natural cover for small birds is the best way to protect them from hawk attacks.

Dense trees, shrubbery and brush piles are all suitable, and shelter should be within 10 feet of birdfeeders so small birds can reach it quickly when they feel threatened.

You can make your landscaping do double duty, choose plants that provide seeds or fruits for the birds and they will be able to feed in the cover and in complete safety.

Shield Feeders:

Place bird feeders in covered areas such as under an awning or umbrella or hanging from lower tree branches where the canopy will prevent hawks from seeing available prey.

Alternatively, covered platform feeders can provide some visual shielding from circling hawks.

No matter, you will see hawk attacks, as nothing seems fool proof.

Avoid Ground Feeding:

Birds that feed on the ground are more vulnerable to hawk attacks because they cannot react as quickly to a predator and their options are limited as to where to go.

Avoid low feeders or feeding birds on the ground to minimize a hawk’s success. This isn't always possible, however.

Seed and feed drops on the ground and several birds seem to prefer ground feeding.

In my yard, Cardinals, Juncos and many species of sparrows seem to prefer ground feeding.

This again is where brush piles come into play.

Placing old Christmas trees near your feeders.

Use anything for bird protection.

Some of you know I use inexpensive bamboo garden stakes.

Scores of these stakes placed all around and near my feeders and some shrubs to help create a bit of a barrier to slow down a hawk attack.

Placing the sticks close enough allows song birds to come and go, yet hawks have a difficult time.

Even when they attempt and ambush from one the the spruce trees.

I can't protect birds that leave the protected area (and this does happen).

I can't protect birds that flee when a hawk flies over.

I can deter and slow down attacks.

Karen and I have seen enough hawk attacks to feel the rush and sadness at the same time.

Explore other options to protect your feathered friends.

Cage Feeders:

Choose bird feeder designs that include wire cages that protect perches and feeding ports, or build a cage around existing feeders.

These feeders are typically designed to keep squirrels from stealing all the bird seed, yet they can serve another purpose if birds will sit still.

The cage will allow small birds to access the food in relative security since larger birds, including hawks, will not be able to reach them.

While this will not prevent small birds from panicking at a hawk’s approach, it will help give them a moment or two to flee while slowing down the hawk.

I keep toying with the idea of building a small aviary using six inch square fencing, but I need to figure how to keep fencing in place on top of the aviary.

I keep hoping.

Sticks and fencing don't make for great photography, but I would rather enjoy my birds than watch the carnage.

Protect Windows:

Use decals and other methods to prevent window collisions by panicked birds.

When a hawk attacks, small birds will mistakenly fly into windows and a stunned bird is easy prey.

Remove Feeders:

If hawks are still a menace to your backyard birds, remove all bird feeders and cease feeding the birds for a week or two.

After a few days, the hawk will move on to different hunting grounds but the smaller birds will quickly return when you resume feeding.

The hawk may return as well, but generally it will take longer for a hawk to rediscover a good hunting area. Some experts suggest not to stop feeding the birds just because you have hawks at feeders.

More of our birds will survive the rigors of winter because of your feeders than will be caught by hawks.

Remove Hawk Vantage Points:

I know, this is easier said than done and I'm not about to remove a tree for this reason.

Still, I must mention this option.

Hawks will often stake out suitable hunting grounds and wait for unwary prey to approach.

To make your backyard less inviting, remove dead branches that a hawk may perch on.

Is it possible to choose a type of fencing they will not be comfortable with, such as thin wires that can be difficult for larger birds to grasp?

When Hawks Won’t Leave:

If a particularly aggressive hawk refuses to leave your backyard and becomes a threat to pets or to you, contact local wildlife management or animal control officials.

It is possible that the bird is injured and unable to hunt in more difficult areas, or it may be nesting nearby.

Either way, only licensed officials should make that determination and they will be able to either remove the bird without harming it or can offer additional advice on protecting backyard birds from hawks.

I must also add this...................

Hawks are regulated by state and federal laws which prevent the capture, killing, or possession of hawks without a special permit.

Lethal strategies require a permit and should be undertaken with the guidance of your 'Department of Agriculture’s and Wildlife Services Agency' (DNR).

No permits are required to scare predating migratory birds except for endangered or threatened species.

Get caught with any part of a hawk or other bird of prey (without permits) and you may feel the full weight of the law.

Thank you for caring enough about our birds to take the time to read this topic.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Your choice of people to associate with, both personally and business-wise, is one of the most important choices you make. If you associate with turkeys, you will never fly with the eagles."

Brian Tracey

Life is full of choices, from choosing friends to choosing to follow God.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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