Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Friend or Foe?

The Case of the Red-Shouldered Hawk

Chickadees paying no attention to what looms in the woods.

I think behavior between animals especially birds is fascinating.  A lot of the time, what you expect to happen does, but sometimes the direct opposite occurs.  Take the case of the Red- Shouldered Hawk, it is known to take birds at feeders.  Not as a much as the Cooper's Hawk but it still has that repetition.  Though after watching a nesting pair in my backyard for almost three years, as well as their offspring, I have never seen even the slightest bit of interest in taking one of the birds that frequent my feeders.  The birds at the feeder don't seem to be the slightest bit scared of the Red Shouldered Hawk either.  They go about their business as if there is no sharp beak and talons looming right next to them.  The hawks seemed to be more interested in hunting rodents, frogs, and snakes than the birds.

When this Great Horned Owl was in my yard, all the birds were nowhere to be found.  It was completely silent not a bird would brave out from their hiding spots in fear of becoming food for this  large owl.

This is the aftermath of a Cooper's Hawk's kill of a Morning Dove.  You can read more about it here.   Every time the Cooper's Hawk appears in my backyard, the yard is a ghost town.

So, why is the response different to the Red-Shouldered Hawk?  There must be a enough of a supply of rodents, snakes, and frogs to keep the Red-Shouldered Hawk from hunting the birds.  The disinterest of the hawks somehow must be sensed by the birds and squirrels. So, it looks like the Red-Shouldered Hawks are friends to birds and squirrels for now...  Have you experienced any bird behavior that made you scratch your head?  Share your stories in the comments or comment on the Facebook page. 


  1. Interesting observation. It's similar to when Northern Shrikes (winter) and Merlins (summer) show up near my feeders. The Tree Swallows always create a big ruckus and chase the Merlins away.

  2. It has been interesting. It is amazing how nature has these behaviors that make no sense to us but somehow work for the birds/animals.