When it comes to bird feeders it's always something. If it isn't the squirrels eating the seed, it is the hawks eating the birds. While we all know that hawks need to eat, we just don't want them dining at OUR bird feeders. The only way to truly make a feeder hawk proof would be to build a cage around your yard that has openings big enough for the birds, but too small for the hawks. Since that is clearly impractical what are the alternatives? For the last 14 years a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks has called the land around my house their territory. There have probably been many pairs, but there is always a pair claiming our yard as their territory. They scream out their territorial challenge from the abandoned Martin house in my neighbor's yard on a daily basis. Despite this there have been less than 5 instances where a hawk or other predator has taken a bird from my back-yard. Why? Maybe I got lucky with my feeder placement, but my neighbor hasn't complained about hawks taking his birds either. What do the placement of my feeder and my neighbor's feeder have in common? Absolutely nothing - and maybe that is the point. My yard has enough cover that straight line shots are minimized. My neighbor has several large trees, but they are grouped together leaving lots of straight line shots, especially from the abandoned Martin house. My theory is that I have physically made it harder for the hawks to snatch from my yard and my neighbor has made it psychologically more difficult because prey feel exposed and jumpy. Most hawks scope out potential food sources (i.e. your birds) from a nearby perch. [...]
The Wildlife Center of Texas has ongoing relationships with homeowners that have the same issue year after year with nesting birds on their property. Usually the birds in question are those with strong site fidelity such as hawks, owls and herons. One family has taken Red-Shouldered Hawks “under their wing”. Each year nestlings and fledglings get blown or shoved out of the nest. After the Wildlife Center of Texas checks them out and provides several good meals, the babies are renested. The first permutation was the animal kennel strapped to the tree. (Don’t forget drain holes or a heavy rain will drown the very animals you are trying to save) It isn’t beautiful, but the parents faithfully raised their babies. When predators became a problem, another kennel was placed on top of a shed. This kennel had holes in the sides that were big enough for the parent to stick in their head to feed, but too small for the predator. The parents adapted beautifully and continued to feed their offspring. Once the chicks were large enough to fend off the predator, they were moved to an open airline kennel. So intrigued about the behavior of the hawks and to check up on the parents to make sure they were caring for their offspring, they mounted webcams. Family and friends delighted in watching the parents bring food to their chicks. They aren’t the only people we have heard of doing this. One raccoon lover set up webcams so he could keep track of his charges. Concerned that the parents were having difficulty feeding themselves and their offspring, the family began providing supplemental food if one or more babies was in the original nest and others [...]
Over the Thanksgiving week a first year Red Shouldered Hawk flew into a window. The window shattered and the hawk was severely cut. The homeowner gently scooped the bird up and contained it. By the time it got to the Wildlife Center it was in shock. An initial exam showed a gaping hole in its neck which was deep enough slice open its esophagus. The hawk was rushed into surgery where Dr. Brenda Flores skillfully stitched up the inner wound. The external neck wound was cleaned and attended to. The day after surgery the hawk was standing and feeling feisty. He will be gavage fed for several days while his wounds heal. Miraculously its wings are in fine shape and no other injuries were found. He will spend the next several weeks in rehabilitation and it is hoped he will have an end of the year release. This year the WR&E Wildlife Center was honored with the task of rehabilitating many of these amazing creatures. The Houston area experienced a late spring and summer drought that brought many young Red Shoulder fledglings to the Wildlife Center. These birds were hydrated, fed, and flight conditioned. Thanks go to the team efforts of rescuers, caregivers and donor supporters that so many of these awesome birds of prey were given A Place to Grow A Place to Heal A Place to be Wild.