What do I do about hawks at my feeders?

Several species of hawks eat songbirds as their natural food. This is part of nature's predator-prey relationship that is in balance. Hawks are not overpopulated when we see them in our yards chasing smaller birds; they are simply doing what they are genetically programmed to do -- similar to Blue Jays eating other bird's eggs or squirrels eating nuts. In fact, predators often capture the slow or sick of their prey species, helping to keep those prey populations stronger genetically. If a hawk hangs around for days at a time keeping other birds away, you may need to stop feeding for a few days to discourage the hawk and help it move elsewhere. If you do get a close-up look at a hawk, consider yourself lucky to observe the beauty of these fascinating birds.

As a bird watcher, it's difficult to see small birds being captured and killed, but that is nature's design. It's been happening since birds first appeared on the planet; but we're more exposed to it when we feed songbirds--when we attract them to our yards, predators naturally follow. Unlike other birds, hawks reproduce very slowly and we are only now seeing many raptor populations recover from the massive deaths that occurred in the early 1900s from hunting and the 1960s from DDT. In fact, human-caused problems such as loss of nesting habitat, highway vehicles and electrical wires continue to impact the population of certain raptor species in many areas.