You put up a bird feeder or drinking dish to feed the little birds. Not to feed the little birds to hawks. But hawks figure out where the little birds are and make themselves disturbingly at home on backyard songbird facilities–especially in winter.
John Asa in IL sent in these pictures of a hawk making himself at home on a heated bird bath. John got the picture, then clapped at the bird to scare him off. No little mourning doves or cardinals were taken–at least this time.
The problem is common to birders, who as irrational as it may feel, naturally want to favor their little bird friends over those birds’ big bird enemies. The basic strategy–aside from being there to spook the hawk–is to make sure your little birds have an easy escape route.
Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education — don’t give the hawks a straight sightline to your feeder from any easy perch
Wild Bird Watching — if the hawk keeps lurking, take down your feeder for a few days.
Don Torino for Wild New Jersey — “That is why they call them bird feeders.” But seriously, make sure shrubs are within 10 feet or create brush piles for hiding. Put the feeder under an awning.
Delaware Valley Raptor Center — Remember, you’re (probably) a meat eater, too. Enjoy the hawk while it’s there or take down the feeder for a while.
Where to Go See Hawks