This is part two of our three-part series on a Pet Owners Nightmare: Hawks, Owls. In our area, the Red-Tailed Hawk and the Great Horned Owl pose the biggest threats to small dogs and cats.
OWLS are generally aloof and nocturnal birds of prey and feed mainly on insects, small birds, mammals and fish. The story that owls will eat your dogs/cats is an urban legend. An owl can only lift around its own body weight. They will, however, dive at cats, dogs and even people if they have a nest in the area and feel their territory is violated.
HAWKS are the most intelligent birds of prey, and they possess brilliant eyesight. They can spot small mammals over two miles away. Hawks catch their prey with their large talons, while a bite from the beak usually kills the animal. The Red-Tailed Hawk is what you are see soaring above your neighborhood. Odds are that a hawk will not steal your pet, but you still need to be diligent and very, very cautious.
Pets most at risk from the above hungry birds of prey (raptors) are small animals that spend time outdoors unsupervised. Raptors do not hunt for sport, and they do not simply seek to terrorize other animals for fun or games. When an owl or hawk attacks, it is either seeking food or protecting its territory, usually around a nesting area. The following are several easy steps to take to protect your pets:
Supervise Pets – Stay outside with your pet at all times. A hunting raptor is less likely to attack a small animal when a much larger one (its owner) is nearby.
Exercise Pets Together – If you have more than one pet, exercise them outdoors together. A raptor is much less likely to attack when other animals are present, because the bird will be concerned about extra animals defending their companion or stealing the kill.
Train Pets – Teach pets not to molest birds of any size. A dog that chases birds, for example, is much less likely to be wary of an approaching raptor.
Avoid Ground-Feeding Birds – Avoid feeding doves, quail and other birds that eat on the ground or low feeders. These types of birds are most likely to attract larger hawks, and a hunting hawk can just as likely target a pet as a wild feeding bird.
Note: All birds of prey are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and it is illegal to injure, capture or kill any raptor or to disturb its nest or offspring. Protecting one’s pet is not an acceptable defense claim for harming a bird, and pet owners may be subject to fines or other penalties if they harm wild birds.
Please watch your pets around native wildlife. Rover’s Rest Stop & Ranch thanks you for stopping by to see us the second Saturday of the month. For more information, call 480-600-2828. Have a wonderful summer!