Hawk at­tack

Nest­ing birds launch two at­tacks on man in city north­west

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MAR­LON HEC­TOR

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.

MAR­LON HEC­TOR/TIMES-HER­ALD

Hawks cir­cle Peter Shields and his dog Bax­ter at his home in north­west Moose Jaw.

MAR­LON HEC­TOR/TIMES-HER­ALD

Peter Shields holds his dog Bax­ter close as hawks cir­cle over­head.

MAR­LON HEC­TOR/TIMES-HER­ALD

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.

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