Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hawk Attack

Father and son perched before flying above and behind us

Adult and juvenile perched on billboard before attack

I had read that some hawks, especially goshawks, are quite protective of their young and may attack humans that come too close to their nest. I never thought harris hawks would do that. Well, it happened to me and my husband last weekend, and to me alone yesterday. 
The first time it occurred, last Saturday at noon, we were on our 'watch tower' focused on the nest because I had been really concerned about the third little hawk chick. A few days before (post dated May 22) it was hardly visible in the nest and I wanted to check if everything was alright.
Since we arrived I realized one of the adults (most probably Matias, the father), perched on top of one of its favorite trees and accompanied by a juvenile, noticed our presence and began to screech. It seemed to me he was not happy with our presence. I had my camera on tripod focused on the nest and was relieved that the third eyas is alive and well but much smaller than the other two. 
The two hawks flew above and behind us, stood on top of a big billboard for a few minutes and suddenly they returned but one, possibly the father (Matias), came flying at us very low and with feet and talons stretched out ready to attack. We both had to duck, especially my husband who is taller. 
Yes, it was quite scary but I felt an immense respect for these wonderful creatures and understood perfectly well that they are just protecting their young and we definitely represent a threat.
Yesterday, mother hawk (maybe Alba), along with two other hawks were very active in the park and near the nest. The three eyases are much larger and seem more like little penguins the way they stand and walk in their nest.
Although it was late in the afternoon the sun was very bright and strong. Thus, I knew I could not be up there very long despite tons of sun block, long sleeves and a baseball cap to cover my face and head. The mother hawk noticed my presence immediately and began to screech in a more aggressive tone. I was moving a lot, looking for a vantage point when the very large hawk flew upwards and towards me, talons out and screeching more aggressively. I had to move back and attempted to mimic her screech but lost my voice momentarily. She did not touch me although she came very close, but I knew it was another reminder not to come near her family.

Adult harris hawk, possibly mother, in nest. One eyas standing

Mother flies to nearby branch. Eyases watching

Three eyases standing

Three eyases standing while adults are hunting

Eyases watching parent that just arrived to nest

Adult turns to me after my calling

Adult hawk flies to tree and tears off twig 

Same hawk balancing on tree branch

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