It is red-shouldered hawk mating season, and these raptors may sometimes perceive people as predators.

Sam Riscile of Riverview’s Riverglen community can tell people firsthand about the damage a red-shouldered hawk can do after he was attacked in his front yard recently.

He explained that for three weeks the hawk, which had made a nest in a tree nearby, had taunted him, flying close enough to him to feel its feathers as it zipped by.

“Well, it finally happened,” exclaimed Riscile.

Although he had seen the raptor up in the tree, he thought nothing of it until he was walking toward the rear of his vehicle in the driveway and then suddenly felt a blow to his head. It was the hawk.

“I felt like I got punched in the back of my head with a fist,” he said. The gash stretched from ear to ear, and there were also two puncture wounds from the bird’s talons.

With a wingspan of nearly 4 feet, red-shouldered hawks are most aggressive during nesting season, which generally runs from March through June. The raptors warn potential predators with talon strikes. Although not normally hostile to humans, during mating season, people look like predators. Threatened by habitat loss from all the building, the hawks are now forced to live among the humans.

The female lays two to three eggs and incubates them for about 30 days. Riscile will have to stay vigilant for a while, as the chicks usually fledge when they are about 45 days old.

Riscile said that while he has seen the red-shouldered hawks in the neighborhood, this is the first time one has nested near his home. “Now I know to keep my eyes peeled and wear a hard hat,” he commented.

Since hawks are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to hunt, kill, shoot, poison or capture a hawk. Proper permitting is needed to trap and relocate the birds or their nests. So, for now, that is all Riscile can do, or else he could be faced with a fine ranging from $5,000-$15,000 and up to six months in prison.

According to, when near a hawk’s nest, wave your arms, make loud noises and do not turn your back. Scarecrows and fake owls also are good deterrents.

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