Nesting birds launch two attacks on man in city northwest
Resident in city northwest takes measures to battle aggressive hawks.
When Peter Shields leaves his house with his dog Baxter, he looks up for fear of an aerial attack.
In the span of one week, Shields and Baxter, a five-year-old Shih Tzu, have had two close encounters with hawks at their home in the J8 Land Lease trailer park community in northwest Moose Jaw.
“Baxter and I were outside watching the sprinklers and one of the hawks came swooping in, wings wide, claws spread and shrieking,” said Shields. “Luckily I caught it in the corner of my eye and waved my arms to scare them away.”
Shields quickly got the dog inside to safety and went back outside to investigate. One of the hawks then tried to swoop in on him.
“I think I spoiled his meal,” said Shields.
Shields took to Facebook to seek advice. Someone suggested he get a large owl sculpture which now sits proudly on his porch. However, the owl has proved useless as a second swoop encounter happened the following day.
“I now carry an umbrella when I take Baxter walking and Baxter is kept close on a leash just in case,” said Shields.
Shields’ next-door neighbour, Vivian Linsley, also acquired an owl. She has not been bothered by the hawks, she said.
Two doors down, Tianna Thul, has not been personally attacked but she’s wary.
“In the last week, I saw them attacking two smaller birds,” said Thul, who has a cat that has gone unscathed so far.
Shields believes the heightened activity over the last week is because the hawks are probably nesting, feeding and protecting their babies.
Ted Swenson, bylaw enforcement officer with the City of Moose Jaw agrees.
“Once the young hawks are more grown, they’ll all probably move on,” said Swenson. “People with small dogs or pets need to be careful; hawk talons are sharp.”
While the city gets complaints about coyotes, skunks and raccoons, they have received zero complaints about hawks.
“Last year we had a nest around the sixth green at Lynbrook Golf Course with bothersome hawks, but they left after the babies were grown presumably,” said Swenson.
Lindsey Leko, conservation officer with the Sask. Ministry of Environment believes the species at Shields’ house is a Swainson’s Hawk.
“We had a nesting pair in Weyburn last year attacking everything that came within 50 metres of the nest,” he told the Times-Herald in an email.
Shields has two unique factors not in his favour — his house is closest to the nest and he has a small dog. In the course of the Times-Herald’s interview with Shields, two hawks flew from their nest and settled on nearby power lines. Once they spotted little Baxter, they started what seemed to be a circle attack formation.
Shields held Baxter closely and when the shrieking started, decided he wouldn’t risk it anymore. Back inside went little Baxter.
Hawks circle Peter Shields and his dog Baxter at his home in northwest Moose Jaw.
Peter Shields holds his dog Baxter close as hawks circle overhead.
One of the hawks nesting near Peter Shields’ house in northwest Moose Jaw perches on a power pole, shrieking to its partner on another pole.