Hawks have actually moved into our backyards. And also many human being seem to discover their brand-new neighbors terrifying.

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I freshly downloaded the Nextdoor app, the “social network for your community community,” to save track of roadway closures and new developments in my rapidly farming community. It offered that purpose, but it likewise gives me sometimes-startling insights into my neighbors’ concerns.

Chief amongst those comes to is wildlife: Coyotes, bobcats (or bobcats misidentified as mountain lions), deer, and, lately, hawks. Yes, hawks.

Hawks show up a many in suburban and also urban environments this time that year. They room feasting ~ above the bounty that songbirds that are attracted to bird feeders. Many see those large, stealthy predators and also worry about their pets.

Recently, there have been a number of hawk picture posted, frequently with warnings: These birds room in ours neighborhood! Watch your pets!

The comments often function stories the beloved cat and little dogs being lugged off by hawks and owls.

Should this really be a concern? go it happen often, or in ~ all? let’s look in ~ the fact of bird of prey and pets.

Hawk matches Poodle

Your friend (or an ext likely, your friend’s cousin’s coworker) sits on the earlier patio, enjoying a cold beer or six. Yet there’s one problem: a yapping poodle (always a poodle) just won’t close up door up.

But suddenly the stroked nerves dog gives out a yelp in alarm, as a ginormous hawk drifts overhead. The poodle sprints towards its home, but it’s as well late. The hawk snatches Fifi in that talons and also lifts her into the sky. The poodle’s yips are changed by the owner’s anguished howls.

I’ve heard and also read numerous variations of this stories. They often follow a conventional plot. Such tales nearly always indicate secondhand resource material and also copious consumption of alcohol (by the storyteller, not the eagle or the poodle).

Let’s put this to rest: these stories space urban (or rural) legends. They are merely not true.

A eagle cannot paris while carrying much more than its body weight. The wings space not that solid and it’s physically impossible.

Let’s look at this further. Hole bones and also fluffy feathers make birds look choose they weigh more than they in reality do. The greatest North American eagle you’re most likely to see in your backyard is the red-tailed hawk.

A red-tailed eagle weighs, at most, 3 pounds. A miniature poodle weighs in about 12 to 15 pounds. Also carrying a smallish Chihuaha would need a far-reaching feat the strength.

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I have actually observed plenty of red-tailed hawks and also other raptors searching over the years. Castle are an effective birds, yet I’m regularly struck by just how little their prey is. Rodents, snakes and also nestlings space all lightweight dinners. When a eagle does catch something larger, it could struggle with trip for a brief time, however ultimately it likely consume bigger items on the ground. A mallard, weighing in at approximately 3 pounds, is usually much too unwieldy and heavy because that a redtail come handle.

This bring up critical point. A redtail is no going to carry off your dog. Yet if you have a small pet, a huge hawk can injure or death your pet. It’s unlikely, yet it could happen.

How around other raptors? The types that most likely hunt around your birdfeeders, choose the Cooper’s hawk and also sharp-shinned hawk, barely weigh a pound. They hunt prey choose quail, songbirds and also squirrels. This birds admittedly watch fierce. It’s easy to ascribe human characteristics to them.

Looks aside, however Cooper’s hawks room not going to lug off or death your dog or cat.

Many birds, consisting of raptors, may swoop in ~ you or her pet if you obtain too nearby to your nests. I suspect that plenty of observations that “attempted predation” are just a Cooper’s eagle trying to chase a cat or dog away from that young.

On Owls and Eagles

Great-horned owls are common in many different habitats of north America, and this time that year you can regularly hear them hooting. This birds space also large and adaptable predators. Plenty of media resources repeat the case the great-horned owl is the “weight lifter” that the avian world, capable of flying with a prey animal several times heavier than its own body weight. There is no proof to back up this claim.

Again, the confusion might reside in the truth that a great-horned owl can kill prey much larger than that is. It will certainly then gulp components of it and also return come the carcass for more. Great-horned owls eat a lot of of tiny rodents, as picking v their owl pellets readily demonstrates. However they survive amongst humans by being generalists. Castle famously are among the couple of predators to hunt and eat skunks. Over there is yes, really no reason why they wouldn’t eat house cats, although actual documented occurrences are fairly rare.

In any case, if a large bird is walk to take it your tiny pet, a great-horned owl is most likely the most most likely culprit.


Bald eagles room an significant conservation success story, and these beautiful birds space now typical in many parts that the continent. As eagle populations grow, therefore does folklore about them. In numerous places, outright eagles eat generally fish. But they are adaptable, too. In Iowa, I often see castle feeding on carrion favor dead pigs disposed by limit farms and also gut piles left through deer hunters. One eagle is a powerful bird, though, so can it take a dog or cat?

You can discover a lot of info on eagle strength. Anecdotally, countless established wildlife biologists and field naturalists have witnessed fully eagles lifting heavy prey. But, in most instances, also bald eagles battle to lift hefty prey for an extremely far.

The Alaska room of Fish and also Game published terrific story exploring this topic in depth. Alaska has the largest population of outright eagles, and also the biologists quoted in the story note that these birds are capable of nabbing a pet, however unlikely to perform so.

As biologist Ron Clarke defines in the story:

“On a wide-open beach, I have no doubt that an eagle with a complete head of heavy steam could choose up a six- or eight-pound dog and also just store on going. If it landing to death a ten-pounder, and also then tried to choose up and fly from a dead stop, might it obtain off the ground? most likely not…They have the right to pick up and also carry 4 or 5 pounds, maximum, and actually fly off v it. They can lift a little an ext and hop it along, but they can’t carry it off.”

The story likewise notes the bald eagles are very wary of human being activity. Together such, they more than likely aren’t going to be searching for a puppy snack in your backyard.

Golden eagles are even an ext legendary in your toughness. These eagles have been trained by falconers in Europe and also Mongolia come hunt wolves and roe deer. There space stunning videos of castle knocking ibexes turn off cliffs.

A gold eagle certainly has the stamin to catch your dog, yet these birds simply are no backyard birds. If you do see a golden eagle around, though, it’s best to keep your beloved pets indoors.

A an easy Solution

Losing your pet come a raptor is exceptionally unlikely. But I recognize the concern. Even if the odds are minuscule, the thought of one’s trusted pug or poodle being dismembered by a red-tailed hawk may be too lot to bear.

Fortunately, the solution to this is fairly simple: nothing let your pet roam freely.

There are many an excellent reasons for adhering to this advice, and also have nothing to carry out with bird of prey. The is dangerous human being out there, with roads, poisons, metropolitan coyotes, various other dogs and also cats and also many other perils. Native predators are frequently blamed because that pet disappearances in spite of a regular lack the evidence. The truth is, if her cat went missing, that is more likely it obtained run over by a automobile than nabbed through a hawk.

And climate there is this inconvenient truth: Wild animals have far more reason to fear your pets 보다 pets have to fear wild animals.

The American Bird Conservatory claims that free-roaming cats room the greatest threat to bird in phibìc America. Researchers estimate that this cats kill a staggering 2.4 billion bird a year. Save your cat inside.

If girlfriend do sufficient searching, girlfriend can find instances wherein a eagle nabbed a cat or a Chihuahua. These dramatic stories might nab the headlines, but they room exceedingly rare occurrences. A pets cat killing songbirds wake up every single day.

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If you follow society media, you’d gain the idea the sharing space with wildlife next-door neighbors is very challenging. However, living v backyard wildlife is fairly easy, specifically if we find out some an easy natural history. Together is so frequently the case, the real difficulty is no them. The us…and ours pets.