DEAR JOAN: Hawks hunting the birds at a feeder, the subject of a recent letter, was something we've experienced also. Our two border collie mix adoptees, Bob and Dave, have been very helpful.

At first, when we would see a hawk, I would call out to Bob, "Birdie, birdie, birdie," and he would charge out the doggy door and chase it off.

After a while he started to recognize the small bird's alarm calls and run it off on his own. Dave helps, too.

The hawks have given up and now seek to find their dinner somewhere else. It works with cats, too. No harm to anyone.

Gary Shuler

Rio Vista

A Cooper’s hawk shakes its feathers while perched on a tree at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek.
A Cooper's hawk shakes its feathers while perched on a tree at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Contra Costa Times)

DEAR GARY: Very clever dogs. I'm sure the birds would give them a medal if they could, but the hawks would definitely put them on their most wanted list.

DEAR JOAN: Your information about putting bird feeders under awnings so the hawks won't see them was wrong. We know. We have been through it all with those damned hawks.

Hanging the feeder under an awning won't do any good. The hawks already know it's there, whether they can see it or not.

What they can see are the birds flying to and from the feeder. They hide in surrounding trees and grab the birds when they fly off.

Simply taking the feeder down for a couple of weeks, as you stated, does not work either. The hawks are very smart and already know the little birds had been there.


Advertisement

As soon as you put the feeder back up and all the birds come back to munch, the hawks come back also to munch.

Sure, they may leave for awhile, but they will discover all the activity in your yard and will return, again and again.

The best solution is to take the feeder down for good. Do not feed the birds. Once the hawks find them, you are fighting a losing battle.

Janis

Concord

DEAR JANIS: Sorry the recommended methods didn't work for you and, in your case, taking down the bird feeders may have been best. You were obviously upset at watching the hawks doing what hawks do.

What I think most of us lose sight of, however, is that the hawks need to eat, too. True, we may not want to see it happening, but if they aren't picking off birds in your backyard, then they are doing it some place else.

Not having the feeders up means the hawks may have to work a little harder at finding prey, but they will find them. They need to eat, the same as all creatures.

Research has shown that only 10 percent of hawk attacks are successful -- 90 percent of the time the birds avoid the talons. Those 10 percent usually are older, weaker birds or sick and injured birds.

Naturalists credit the hawks with helping to keep the general bird popular healthier. Like most true predators, hawks don't kill for entertainment but for their survival. They kill only what they can eat or feed their young.

Waxing poetic

The 7th annual Pets Add Life Children's Poetry Contest starts Sept. 1.

The contest is open to third- through eighth-graders. Poems should focus on the joys of owning pets. Cash prizes for students and schools will be awarded.

Submit poems at facebook.com/petsaddlife, www.PetsAddLife.org or Pets Add Life, 661 Sierra Rose Dr., Reno, NV 89511.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.