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July 14, 2011


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The Zen Birdfeeder

Sandra, the hawks that are most likely to be in your yard are the two profiled here - the Sharp-shinned and the Cooper's Hawk. Neither are large enough to take a dog even as small as a Yorkie. They prey on birds, which are quite a bit smaller (and lighter, if they need to carry them off).
Very large hawks like Red-tailed Hawks are first of all, unlikely to be in your yard (unless you have a very big yard) and they are also unlikely to take a dog.
Bottom line, I think your dog is most likely safe from the most common backyard hawks.
Thanks for stopping by and asking your good question.

sandra murphrey

I have a 3 pound yorkie and have a very nice fenced in yard, a neighbor call me the other day and said a hawk was on my fence hoped our very expensive yorkie was inside..They call out and the bird left..Lexie was inside...will this bird kill my yorkie? very large hawk they said.. Has been seen on the golf course in Kings Mountain, N.C.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Sue, lucky indeed. Interesting to hear of crow/jay silence in presence of a peregrine (vs. their raucousness with hawks). Perhaps the peregrine is even more of a threat? Those corvids are smart birds.


Nancy - true enough - we're lucky enough to have not one but two falcon nests here - one on our property. I do find it interesting that the crows and jays will send out warning calls when a hawk is around (or the foxes as well), but are totally silent with the falcons.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Sue - it is a rare backyard that has an active peregrine nest nearby, in the big scheme of things. If you knew how many times people say they have a falcon in their backyard, you'd know why Cornell would make the statement they did, while using "quite rare" rather than "never" to allow wiggle room for the unique situation you mention.
Margaret - I find it amazing to watch these woodland hawks negotiate their way through narrow openings in the trees, and even diving into shrubs after prey. Fascinating, powerful, awesome!


RE: Cornell's comments about Peregrines...our experience is that might be true unless you live less than a mile from an active nest. We have nearly daily fly-by's of peregrines and, in late summer, our neighborhoods serve as training grounds for the young learning to score a songbird or squirrel lunch.


Nancy - Nice post, which I appreciate for the same reasons you do, i.e. that this is the raptor most often seen in our neck of the woods. Glad to see that the Cornell site mentions the gender dimorphism, which makes even judging by size somewhat difficult. These accipiters have evolved short, rounded wings and long, rudder-like tails for woodland maneuvering. Even so, some have been discovered with broken bones (presumably due to flying into trees) that have healed. Birds are amazing! As for falcons, their appearance is quite different, having the narrow, pointed wings conducive to speed-flying, like the Peregrine that I was pleasantly surprised to see in Charlton earlier this week.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Kathiesbird, it's an interesting thing to watch, isn't, but also heartbreaking. But it goes on whether we see it or not, so we may as well learn from it, right?


I have had both these species visit my feeders and eat my birds! In AZ the coopers actually jumped down into the brittlebrush in search of prey! Here in MA I actually saw a Cooper's capture a chickadee from my feeder last month. Very informative article!

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  • Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.


  • Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.


  • Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.