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Ethical question...feeding Hawk

Raleigh, NC

So, what do you do when you love to feed the birds and squirrels, but then the neighborhood hawk discovers that the feeding area offers a hunting bonanza? I purposely put the feeders where the birds and squirrels would have cover, and move them around, as our hawk has been around awhile, but I have seen him snatch both a squirrel and bird recently. From a wildlife standpoint, we have plenty of squirrels and rodents, so it really doesn't matter that the hawk is getting them.

Not sure about the bird species though. I don't think we any rare species in the area, but I feel a little bad that I am tempting them to an area where there is a hunter. Of course, he's here anyway, no matter where they are in the area....what to do? Let nature take its course with no intervention, including feeding, or keep feeding and be happy the birds of prey are healthy and thriving in my urban area? Opinions, please.....

Hi yotedog
My Opinions is.
Get your self a good Digital Camera,
And go get some 'You beaut Pictures' of the Kill. [action shots]
After all it is nature at its best .
You could win Photography competitions with what you are seeing.
Here in Aus. An average Comp. has a first prize of $450.
You won`t win with Baby or Family Shots.
You are on a winner there. Take the PIC.!!!!

Marlton, NJ

I agree. Theres actually been studies done about this and they say that Hawks only spend 10% of their time at feeder sites. I would keep the feeders in an open area so the birds can see the Hawks coming and have more time to escape.

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

My bird feeders are for all of the birds. Hawks will usually take the old, ill or slow. They keep the gene pool clean. The experience of watching a kill is different for everyone. It is awesome to watch, for me. The Hawk has to eat and will eat. If you get to watch that's a bonus. They miss a lot and that's fun to watch, too.


Raleigh, NC

Thanks for the opinions. Yes, though I am sad, I am also thrilled when I see "our" hawk make a kill, as I know this means he is healthy and a skilled hunter. Plus, though I am in the south, and in an older urban area, I do not have rats around and, hence, no snakes. I like snakes, but because many are poisonous here I'm just as glad to have the hawk eliminate their food supply in my yard.

An added plus is that this hawk had a mate this year, and nested in an old pine across the street. Not sure if young were sucessfully raised, but it was great just the same knowing how this pair had adapted and survived despite tremendous urban growth and old forest destruction in my area. Thats a good thought to move the feeders in the open and see if that helps--maybe my thought about providing cover to protect them was backwards...Will let you know, and try to get pics.

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

I have the same problem except its all the neighborhood cats. This truly bothers me due to the fact they do not need the food, I keep feeders in open areas as well as high up, but I still see the it could be worse.........It can ALWAYS be worse....

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

Live trap the cats and send them to the pound. Animal control will probably pick them up for you so that you don't have to make the trip. Free roaming and feral cats kill billions of birds in our nation each year.

We also have the same problem in Aus.
But I don`t here.
I have 2 large dogs.
Last cat I saw 3 years ago was up a tree
With both dogs at the base of tree,
Next morning the cat was presented to me at the back door.
With 2 very satisfied looking dogs wagging their tails.
The cat was quite dead.

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

That's another option that I hadn't considered. Just as effective and much easier. Thanks Ginger!

Peoria, IL

I had this same hawk problem. Its not really a problem. Though everytime I saw a cooper's hawk swoop down and take a bird off my feeder, I screamed. Its awesome and it happens so fast its breath taking. I felt bad for my birdies because I was luring them in only to be eaten by something else.

I read that if you stop feeding the birds for a few days (maybe a week or so) that is long enough for the hawk to move on to another location. Which I did. But then when I started feeding again, it was only a matter of time before the hawks came back also. The hawks had a daily regime when they would take from the feeder. You could set your watch by it. So if you don't mind "real graphic nature" taking place in your yard, I wouldn't worry about the hawks. (Cats are another issue entirely and I won't even get started on that one.)

We also had problems with a bald eagle and our very small dog for awhile too. We lived on a river and we had a huge old dead cottonwood tree on the beach. Each winter, the big boy bald eagle would sit in the dead tree and fish from our front yard. It was great; until he started to swoop down in our yard over top of our very small dog. The eagle never picked the dog up, but we lived in fear that he would. The cottonwood tree fell down last summer, so the eagle won't be hanging out in our yard anymore.

Ridgefield, WA

Where roaming and feral cats are concerned: Not only do i fear for "my" birds, but my indoor cat has started to territory mark due to the neighboring cats that roam around the house and make rude gestures at her through the window glass. Although i've been managing the issue using "Natures Miracle," i have yet to find a solution to the behavior itself.

How i do so hate those cats.

Nature's Miracle has been my friend for the very same reasons mentioned by estreya. I've taken to keeping my windows closed these days and I don't allow my cats out into the screened in porch any longer.

I agree with stelco here, "Hawks will usually take the old, ill or slow. They keep the gene pool clean" I also agree with stelco here, "Live trap the cats and send them to the pound". Our Village provides the service for free.

Peoria, IL

Oh yeah, my brother had that same problem with his cat. His cat kept marking the house because of the ferals that would sit outside the windows and look in. My brother started trapping the outdoor cats and he put some of those of landscape spikes in mulch around the windows. Trying to keep the ferals out of view from his cat.

Ridgefield, WA

WOW! I thought i was the only one to have this problem! I didn't think spayed, female cats were capable of territory marking, but live and learn i guess ....

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, and i'm sorry for hijacking this thread. :)

This message was edited Dec 21, 2006 9:05 AM

I had to replace drywall in one room from a neighbor's cat marking its territory to show my indoor cats it was boss by spraying through my open window in a spare bedroom we never used. I didn't catch it until it was too late. The urine had pooled in the base of the window over the course of a few weeks and had also crystalized and dripped down the wall. Then one of my cats started marking in that area and Aleksander's pee was dripping down the wall and behind the floor trim so I had to put him in a crate for a few months. This was long before Nature's Miracle was available. I had my neighbor's cat neutered to avoid having it hauled off when they told me they wouldn't keep it in. That was the very first cat I didn't own that I had neutered. That was at our old house and their cat did stop spraying after it was neutered.

Here I had to have another neighbor's cat neutered for the same crap only this time the cat was spraying up all the windows to my screened in porch. Some of his urine ended up on the cushions of patio furniture I had out there and I had to replace the whole set. I still haven't replaced the trim to the windows out there. I took that cat to the shelter when it kept spraying after I paid to neuter it and after I asked them to keep their cat away from my house. Now, I don't bother asking neighbors more than once. I just trap their cat and haul it off to a shelter or call animal control if they're a feral.

Two spraying cats in 20 some years isn't that bad I suppose but I still don't appreciate getting stuck with the bills and I definitely don't want any cats hanging around my feeders.

And yes, spayed female cats can spray.

So yotedog
When are you buying that camera ???

Maybe Santa will bring her one for Christmas?

Blythe, CA(Zone 10b)

Yes Yotedog, You must have a camera so you can take pictures like this. Sorry to just jump right in but I couldn' t help myself. And yes, yotedog Iam having the same problem with the hawks getting my little birdies. And the hawks get mad when you watch them eat.

Thumbnail by betterbloom

Wow betterbloom,
What a mean look.
If looks could kill.

Peoria, IL

Thats a great pic.

Loved the look on his face! How dare you interrupt his dining experience! That's a great shot.

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

It's not just Hawks. Peregrines don't like to be interrupted at lunch, either!

Thumbnail by Stelco
Blythe, CA(Zone 10b)

Stelco: Boy, that's really a out for him! How big is that bird ?

Ridgefield, WA

WOW! Peregrine's were once bread to be hunting birds, yes? These photographs are chillingly fascinating ....

Raleigh, NC

Wow--Great pics! Sorry, I dropped my digital camera and its going in for service (right before XMAS, good timing, wouldn't you say??). So its gonna be awhile before I can try to capture him on film, but guess what I saw yesterday in the old pine where the hawk nested and usually hangs out? A heron! I have no idea where he came from (no real marshes or continuous streams within several mile of here unless you count the drainage ditch behind my house...filled only when it rains). He was a small one, and I'm wondering what the hawk would have done with him?? We, too, have a tiny old dog and though I think she is too big for him to lift, I'm not totally convinced....

Now, onto the cat issue...I must confess, we do have a cat that goes outside, but that is because she was formerly feral, and refuses to stay inside without great gnashing of teeth and yowling. And she's afraid of the litterbox, despite our best attempts to find the type/location that pleases her. She does not hunt birds (too fat and lazy), but does occasionally catch the unsuspecting vole, grasshopper etc. When we moved in, we had several cats coming in our yard. Once she was here, after a few tense standoffs, no more cats in "her" yard. They've all staked out a territory, and this yard is hers. Now, I'm not suggesting you put your cats outside!!! But has anyone considered spreading some of the used litter from their cats litterboxes around the perimeter of the yard to fool other cats into thinking that is someone else's territory? MIght work, and I suspect you would only need to reapply it a few times...Our cat stays inside the majority of the time, so I don't think its her continual presence that keeps other felines away. Anyone tried this?

Raleigh, NC

Forgot to ask--what's the Peregrine eating??

Ridgefield, WA

Oh, herons are gorgeous, aren't they? I can't wait till you get your camera fixed.

I've had only a scant few heron sightings here, and i literally gasp at the vision. Do you really think the hawk would have dared feast on a heron? Even a small heron would still be bigger than a hawk, no?

As to the spreading of litter, what an interesting idea! I think i'll try it!

Thumbnail by estreya

That`s the little devil who is eating my Gold Fish.
We have that exact one here.
Is it a herron?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Looks like a great blue heron.

Check out the photos at this link. You'll need to scroll down on the menu at left and click on Great Blue Heron.

Thats a great site .
Thanks for that.
Straight on to my 'Favorites list.'
They don`t have a lot of 'Cranes'

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

The Peregrine is the real Stelco. I used her name as my handle. Iím Mark and have studied her since 98 in Lansing, Michigan. This is the first year that I didnít get a positive ID on either of our two Peregrines. I saw a major fight in early spring and Stelco may have been driven off or killed. She always ďhung outĒ in the same places, with two different males that have paired with her. I did see Peregrines, but not where she would have been and I couldnít get close enough to read a band number.

She is eating a bird, probably some Pigeon. It looks like fur, but we have zoomed in on the high resolution image and you can tell it is feathers. Peregrines almost exclusively eat birds and like to take them on the wing.

They are large. You would have to be strong to use a Peregrine in Falconry, but they do. They are curious, too. I had a pane of glass separate us and she followed my finger through the glass. The funniest time that I had was when I told a building manager not to let workers near her nest on the 22nd story of a building. He did and the workers got curious about the nest that they knew about. Two grown men were turned into babies when two Peregrines came inches away at over 100 MPH until they could get back inside.

Ridgefield, WA

Oh my ....

I'm going to adopt the belief that one of those Peregrines is indeed your beloved Stelco. Perhaps she was just being every bit the coquette and hiding her band from you?

And to think, she's eating a pigeon in your photo. I think of pigeons as being quite large, so that gives me a bit of scale as to how generously proportioned Peregrines must be.

I'm eager to see yotedog's coming photographs of the neighborhood hawk as well.

Raleigh, NC

Well, since mine picked off a full grown squirrel without even halting his flight or any trouble getting lift after grabbing it, a pigeon seems reasonable, given a pigeon is meant for flight so is mostly hollow bones and feathers. I've not yet figured out what kind of hawk mine is, but I have worked with raptors in the past, so have been up close and personal, and this guy is BIG.

Stelco, once long ago in college I wrote an article about efforts to save Peregrines. So, whats their range now? I lived in the Midwest then--could I expect to see them here in the Carolinas? Just wondering....

Marlton, NJ

Hope you don't mind my joining in on this conversation. The Peregrines range is all along the east coast but closer to the shore (except for Fla. where their all through the state). The range could have changed to a broader area since that map was made.
So far I've had 3 different hawks in my yard; the Red Tail, Coopers and Sharp Shinned. I love them all!

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)


When you wrote your paper we were probably just learning about how to introduce Peregrines in the U.S. DDT almost wiped them out completely. We were literally down to a couple of dozen wild pair in western states, at best. They started introducing them back to natural cliff environments, but quickly learned that man had changed our environment enough to introduce large numbers of Great Horned Owls to these places. The Owls took so many young Peregrines that the reintroduction effort was slow. As soon as man and beast realized that tall buildings emulated cliffs and that a LOT of unwanted Pigeons were available in cities the game was won. Peregrines are still listed as endangered in Michigan, but they were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999. I was involved in the Midwest Peregrine Restoration Project for several years and their numbers are increasing throughout the Midwest. They are nesting on buildings, bridges and smokestacks primarily. It looks like they are doing well in natural areas in your state, but climbers arenít so happy about it:

Raleigh, NC

Hey, the climbers can go somewhere else for a brief period--after all, WE are the ones who messed up their habitat to start with! Thanks for the info, Stelco and Pelletory. I'm still trying to ID "my" hawk--more later as he shows himself (actually, with the holidays, its probably me who isn't showing "myself"--I'm up alot earlier normally and, of course, thats when I see him. Been sleeping in a bit more lately.....). Happy Holidays to everyone in the living world, Hawks and Falcons included!!

We have plenty of Mountains to climb,
Seny your Climbers over here.
We don`t have Bird / climber relationship problems here.
I do agree though, Birds should come first.

Raleigh, NC

Santa brought me a new camera! Yippee! Wonder how the big red fella knew I dropped mine? Hmmm....Great timing on the hawk showing up for breakfast. Yep, I first saw him right by the feeder (which is now empty--thought I'd try to break his habit..). I grabbed my new camera and ran right out in my pajamas to get this pic. Unfortunately, he flew off down the street, so I couldn't get much of a close up. The neighbors enjoyed seeing me running down the street in the freezing cold in my pajamas and bare feet, however.....My guess is a red-tailed hawk, but not sure. Any votes?

Thumbnail by yotedog
Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

No doubt about it! Nice shot of that red tail.

Great action shot .
Well framed between the 2 Green pine trees.

Next Pic should be you running down street ,bare footed?

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