Your Birdfeeder May Attract a Bird You’re Not Expecting

Many people have backyard bird feeders. It’s an easy, relatively low maintenance, way to draw wildlife into close viewing range. It’s a great way to see nature up close. However, you may get more than you bargained for. By attracting the smaller seed-eating birds in large numbers, you may also be catching the eye of an unexpected predator.

 

Which Hawks Just Can’t Resist A Crowded Birdfeeder?

Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2015 by eNature
Cooper’s Hawk with prey                                                         Sharp-shinned Hawk
Range of Cooper's Hawk in North America                     Range of Sharp-shinned Hawk
Range of Cooper’s Hawk in North America                    Range of Sharp-shinned Hawk

 

 

It’s a distressing but all to common sight on winter days and we often hear from our readers who have witnessed it….

This is the time of the year to see hawks attacking and eating birds at bird feeders.

The typical scenario is a flock of songbirds quietly eating at feeders, when all of a sudden, a hawk swoops in and panics the birds into flight. A talented hawk may capture one of the songbirds in its talons, and then fly to a nearby tree to eat its prey.

Some hawks learn that even if they miss on the first pass, a bird may fly into a window in panic, and make an easy prey on the hawk’s second pass.

Many people are shocked at the sight of a hawk eating a songbird. Yet, it is all part of the balance of nature. Hawks have to eat, too, and a bird feeder is the perfect place to find their food.

There are two species of hawks responsible for most of the predation on feeder birds: the Cooper’s hawk and the slightly smaller Sharp-shinned hawk.

Except for size, they are almost identical in appearance. The larger Cooper’s has a slightly rounded tail, while the sharpie has a square tail. Both have long tails and short wings for pursuing small birds through trees and bushes.

Both species are found throughout most of the continental United State, although the Cooper’s is probably the most commonly encountered.  The Sharp-shinned hawk’s range extends high into northern boreal forests of Canada while the Cooper’s tends to stay in the lower latitudes.

As with all hawks, these two are protected by state and federal laws, and cannot be harmed or harassed.

So, the solution is to live with them, as we live with other bird feeder problems, such as gluttonous squirrels and bully European starlings. It’s just a slice of life in the backyard habitat.

Have you had a hawk visit your feeder?  We always enjoy hearing your stories about your encounters with the wild.

 

 

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