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Protective Mom

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Lou Buscher, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. This is of one of many newsletters I receive daily and though I would share with you. Tannersville is a small town suffering some habitat loss to development here in the Catskill Mountains. Perhaps you may consider a Hard-Hat next field trip during nesting.

    Hawk attacks prompt concern from Tannersville residentsKietryn Zychal
    Pocono Record Writer
    July 10, 2007

    She should have expected this kind of thing, living in a house on Talon Drive in a subdivision called Eagle's Landing.

    Over the past month, Carol Carlin-Drapé has been attacked by a hawk nesting in a tree in her front yard. A total of four neighbors have experienced the hawk swooping past them or knocking them in the head.

    On two occasions, Carlin-Drapé and her ex-husband Bob walked away from an encounter with blood on their heads.

    After neighbor Joyce Love was hit in the head on Monday morning, Carlin-Drapé called the Pocono Record.

    "Maybe an article can save other people from getting mauled," she said.

    The first attack occurred in late May or early June. Carlin-Drapé was kneeling in a flower bed by the street when something hit her on the head as she was pulling weeds. She was wearing a hat and did not see the hawk.

    The second attack was less subtle. The hawk flew so close to her head it lifted her hair. The next time, it hit her in the back of the head.

    "It was so silent," she said. "She always comes from behind so I never see her. It's amazing the force a bird has."

    Carlin-Drape bought a Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds and began to watch the nest with binoculars. She observed a male and a female as well as three fledglings in different stages of development, including a small one with downy feathers. They resembled pictures of red-tailed hawks with wingspans of three to four feet.

    Two weeks ago, Bob Drapé was standing in back of the house when the hawk swooped down on him, digging her talons into his scalp without even stopping. His head was quickly covered with blood. "Then she soars back up into the nest," he said.

    "That's motherhood for you," said Dr. Keith Bildstein of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton.

    Bildstein is the director of conservation science at Hawk Mountain, a popular destination for bird watchers. He explains the hawk's behavior as defensive but not predatory in nature. She is trying to scare the humans away from her nest, not harm them.

    Bildstein knows personally how hard a hawk can hit. "I actually wear a solid bicycle helmet when I have to observe a nest," he said.

    Bildstein said attacks are becoming more common for two reasons. The hawk population is at its highest in a hundred years now that it is illegal to kill a bird of prey. And humans are moving into areas that are ideal for hawk habitats.

    "They love super canopy trees, high above the ground, and open fields where they can hunt. She probably feels more insecure because the tree was denuded by gypsy moths," explained Bildstein.

    While at times the neighbors in Eagle's Landing may have felt like they were living in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the behavior will only last a few more weeks according to Bildstein.

    Red-tailed hawks have a nesting period of about 40 to 45 days after hatching. Learning to fly is a dangerous time for the fledgling.

    Young birds have immature muscles and can fall instead of flying.

    The mother may become more agitated and protective when her young are learning to leave the nest.

    "The hawk is just trying to protect her reproductive investment," Bildstein said.

    More information about hawks can be found at www.hawkmountain.org.
  2. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    wow ....hummmmmm

  3. Interesting behavior to know for hawk observation. Next time I will bring a soldier helmet to be sure :biggrin:
  4. Yes quite the reaction, but not uncommon as I am quite sure the lack of the leaves on the hardwoods we had that year from the gypsy moths was excessive and left their nest naked and in the open. I have had this happen to me several times with Ravens but never a contact was made while on the other hand here is one of my red shoulders diving right at me from the nest but I got the photo and than had to duck as he/she passed so close to my head I could feel the breeze and I was not very close (about 90 feet) to the nest and the photo was taken with a 300 2.8 and a 2X on it and I was hideing behind the side of a house but I guess not as well as I though.
  5. Yeah everyday something new and sometimes funny comes in my mail about our wildlife. A bikeing helmit will do.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2007
  6. Very interesting! Guess if I ever find a hawk's nest, I better be wearing my motorcycle helmet! It's sad they feel so threatened, but at the same time, humans just keep moving in closer to their habitat. Thanks for sharing!
  7. Well I guess it could be worse as it seems the people involved were accepting them as being there first. The red tail is a pretty defensive bird and of a fair size. Take a look at the one I have landing on my wrist when I was a young man in my About Lou Buscher link on my web.
  8. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Wow they are larger than one would expect:>))
    Nice photo
  9. Bob Coutant

    Bob Coutant Moderator Moderator

    May 17, 2005
    Pleasantville Ohio
    I was last in Tannersville almost 55 years ago, and it seemed crowded then -- my sympathies lie with the birds:smile:.
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