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question about hawks

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  • question about hawks

    Can someone explain hawk behavior?

    We have always had some hawks in the vicinity (probably redtails). I have occasionally seen one sitting on our woodpile and even on our deck railing, and I think there is a hawk nest in the woods right next to our house - we can see it in the winter before the trees leaf in.

    This year, our hawks have been EXTREMELY vocal - much more so than in years past - with much screaming and crying. They seem highly agitated a LOT. I believe we have at least two pairs now - maybe only had one pair in the past, but I have spied at least 4 soaring around at the same time and in the same limited area, screaming their heads off. Is this a territorial battle between two mated pairs?

    Other thing I have noticed is that we have a lot of big blackbirds or crows hanging around these days, and they seem to often be flying around and calling at the same time as the hawks. Do crows try to attack hawk eggs? Is that another reason for the hawks' agitated screaming?

  • #2
    I have seen crows gang up on a local hawk after it killed one of their fledglings. I found the fledgling (dead, but not eaten) the afternoon after a HUGE squawking in flight fight that went on.


    • #3
      Crows definitely predate hawks' nests. They will eat eggs and chicks.
      Other reasons for hawks being vocal include fledging babies (that are the same size as the parents but too young to hunt yet) they follow their parents around screaming for food. Also a second pair of hawks could be competing for the first pair's territory.
      The other thing is if one or both of the pairs are actually red shouldereds (very similar to red tails) they are a very vocal species in general, and tend to frequent farms more than any other species of hawk. Red shouldereds are even more vocal at this time of year.
      "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


      • #4
        Actually, it could be a catch 22 situation: Crows most definitely mob hawks - relentlessly. I rescued some in a neighborhood one time where the home owners had the babies behind them fending off attacking crows. A very bizarre scene.

        So, the hawks are there, causing angst with the crows (who probably have a nest), and the crows are cackling away. Makes for a very noisy neighborhood!
        Horse Feathers Farm


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the info.

          I am starting to think they are red-shoulders instead of red-tails. We are in a subdivision, end of the cul de sac, and surrounded by dense woods sloping down to streams on two sides. From what I have been reading, this is apparently the type of habitat favored by red-shoulders, whereas red-tails prefer open fields. Yesterday, I saw one of our guys sitting on top of the pole supporting my bird feeder. We used to have a ton of doves making pigs of themselves at our safflower feeder, but I think we only have 1 or 2 left - guess the hawks and owls have been going through them. The hawk I saw yesterday was on my other feeder, where we get a lot of chickadees, tufted titmouse, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, flickers, and even an enormous pileated woodpecker.