Look out above! Swooping hawks can create havoc

Watch your back – because you may find yourself stalked by a hawk.

Hawks start breeding in January, meaning they can become more aggressive.

Several residents of the beachside communities have taken to social media recently to share their experiences.

Hawks often nest through June, and protecting these nests is a mother hawk’s paramount priority. If she perceives you as a threat – get ready to run, duck and take cover.

Donna Griffin of Satellite Beach said she’s been hit on the head several times by a red-shouldered hawk she claims has “tormented” her for years. She’s tried several tactics for dealing with it including trimming trees daily and wearing hats outside.

“But the hawk takes hats,” Griffin said. “Many neighbors (get) hit, and many hats had to be retrieved from light posts, trees and roofs.”

Now she wears a bike helmet while gardening. And, at the suggestion of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), she affixed two eyes to the helmet, which she was told would drive away the hawks. She was also advised to erect a tarp over her pool to keep hawks away. “I’d probably need a permit for that and it would never be approved,” Griffin said. “So, should we swim with bike helmets?”

Dawn Calvelli of Indian Harbour Beach said she’s most concerned about her dog, Teeny Tiny, who is about half the size of a squirrel.

“My little dog is 2 pounds and I live pretty close to where the hawks are, so I don’t let her outside at all unless I have her in my arms” Calvelli said. “Currently she has a litter box that she uses to go to the bathroom and she’s on a pretty regular schedule.”

Hawks, eagles, falcons and owls are called raptors – or birds of prey – and as spring arrives, the FWC said the reports begin to roll in of raptors, typically hawks, that are diving at people. It’s all about protecting the nest and their chicks or eggs from any perceived threat.

Because raptors are protected by federal and state law, it’s illegal to disturb them, their nests or their eggs. But for people who find themselves in an area with active nests, the FWC offers some tips in their guide for dealing with aggressive raptors.

They include:

  •  Avoid areas near the nest. If you must go through the area, carry an open umbrella or wear a hard hat.
  •  Temporarily erect a shade structure to obstruct the birds’ view of people and pets.
  •  Plant shrubbery to provide cover for pets and birds visiting feeders.
  •  Carry an air horn to deter birds that start to dive.
  •  During the non-breeding season, trim branches to eliminate perches.
  •  Eliminate items that attract prey to your yard, including; unsecured garbage, fallen bird seed, and outdoor pet food.

Elfrieda Tullar of Indian Harbour Beach said she hasn’t had any hawks swoop down on her, but is cautious and conscious that they’re around.

“The day my son and I saw 13 – yes, 13 – of them was unbelievable. I have two small dogs, so I try to be vigilant,” Tullar said.

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