Backyard Chirper

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Why Birds of Prey Make Great Backyard Birds

When you’re outside and you see a hawk hovering over your bird feeders, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? It’s probably something along the lines of Shoo! Get out of here!

Why do we think that? It’s mostly due to the fact that hawks and other raptors prey on the backyard birds we’ve come to know and love. We feed small songbirds to enjoy them, not to fatten them up for birds of prey to gobble them down.

Despite their propensity of eating our favorite birds, having raptors around your yard can actually be a good thing.

Here’s why.


Rodent control

Probably the best reason to have raptors hanging around your property is rodent control. Depending on your property, you could have a fair amount of rodents running about, even if you don’t see them very often. Most birds of prey will take care of these critters.

On top of rodents, birds of prey will also hunt insects, squirrels, and other critters you may not want hanging around your yard.

Getting rid of invasive species

While we don’t want hawks to eat up the chickadees and cardinals, there are many types of species we don’t want at our feeders. These include starlings, pigeons, House Sparrows, and other bully birds. Raptors will likely prey on these invasive species that may be monopolizing your feeders.

Bringing balance to the ecosystem

IMG_3190Even though some people don’t want to admit it, raptors have just as much right to eat as any other native bird species. When there are hawks targeting birds at your feeders, don’t be mad. Understand that you’re not only providing food for the songbirds, you’re also providing food to birds of prey.

Don’t feel bad about it. It’s part of nature and the raptors will likely only be able to target the weakest of the bunch. This makes the flock that visits your feeder hardier.

Great to look at

I hate to admit it, but getting to see a bird of prey in my backyard gets me far more excited than when I see a songbird. These larger birds are just more mysterious because they don’t usually come around and they’re often maligned by people with bird feeders. You can experience the same joy (if not more) from watching raptors on your property as smaller birds.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. I have to admit this is a hard pill to swallow and find myself agreeing with your article in both areas. Enjoy seeing these beautiful birds and the hardest part, not feeling bad when the “puff” of feathers has mysteriously appeared near our feeder. It’s been heart wrenching for me!! Your article helped get my emotions in check. I’ve done all I know to do, not only to educate myself but strategically place our bird feeder with overhead cover and bushes to hide in and yet these beautiful Red Shoulder and Red Tail Hawks have taken several White Wing Doves from our yard. The end of June and just today, July 15th 2019 I’ve observed the aftermath of at least 4 Doves. Our property backs up to an easement (on the smaller side) with utility lines on the larger. With overhead cover from our trees and bushes they seem to come from over our roof and down towards the back. No easy feat for a young Hawk but hungry enough I don’t assume that they wouldn’t. Ive picked up the feeder and raked the ground with what seed left being pushed under these bushes. Other strategies would greatly be appreciated. Thanks again for your article.

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