Hawk attack

April 8, 2011. Hawk attack! This week several national news outlets carried a story of a nesting red-shoulder hawk that attacked a man in Florida, conjuring up images of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Should we be so surprised?

Each spring throughout North America, thousands of new hawks hatch from their eggs and, after being nurtured for a short time and learning to fly, are pushed from their nests by their parents. The majority of these juveniles, known as passage birds, will fail to survive their first brutal winter on their own. In fact, despite being at the top of the food chain, proud and noble creatures that they are, the five-year mortality rate for wild hawks and falcons is well over eighty percent.
We shouldn’t be shocked at all when a wild predator defends her young. Hawk attacks on humans are extremely rare. I have personally trapped and trained three wild hawks, all of which were safely released back to the wild, and I know of falconers and research bird-banders who have trapped hundreds, if not more. Wild birds of prey are generally afraid of humans and do their best to avoid us, but their hunger and instinct for survival supersedes all.

By Andy Straka
Licensed Falconer – Earlysville, VA