Kentucky Pet Owners Should Beware of Hawks and Other Birds of Prey
Teresa Cook of Owensboro recently noticed a very large hawk "lurking" around her neighborhood. Teresa was in the backyard skimming the pool and her dog was outside with her. The dog's tiny and weighs about 9 pounds. The hawk clearly had its sights set on that dog. Luckily, Teresa had her sights set on the hawk and anticipated the moment that the hawk swooped down, claws out, to try to pick up the pup.
Teresa screamed and waved the pool skimmer at the bird. She says, "He landed on the electrical wire behind the house" and she immediately noticed how big it was. She says, "He was so heavy and huge" and his wingspan was "easily five feet." That particular hawk has been circling the Moreland Park area of town for a while now and it's clear he's had some battles. As Teresa says, "His beak has a bunch of scars on it. It's a massive old bird and beat up." Teresa is convinced that big guy eventually flew off with another pet of hers. The hawk didn't get her dog, but she's certain he got her cat.
Another hawk in town recently tried to do nearly the exact same thing. A friend's neighbors' cat recently got picked up by a hawk too. Luckily, the cat was too heavy for the hawk and the bird dropped it. However, the talons made such deep gashes in the cat, the owners had to take it to the vet for surgery.
Another Owensboro resident, Judy Quinn, has two small dogs of her own and there's a bird in her neighborhood that seems to have taken quite an interest in her backyard- where Lucy (a Shih Tzu) and Darcie (a Bichon/Shih Tzu mix) routinely play. Judy took this photo just a couple of days ago.
As you can see, the hawk was perched on her fence and surveying the space.
So, is this really possible? Are hawks big and strong enough to swoop down, pick up and fly away with your pets? There are certainly YouTube videos that capture their attempts to do so.
Despite their dogged attempts, the answer to the above question is pretty clear. Yes, hawks could potentially swoop down and pick up your pet! But here's the good news. A recent USA Today article tackled what many believe to be an urban myth about hawks and owls. The take away from that story is that neither hawks nor owls can carry off more than their own weight. It's also important to note that hawks and owls don't weigh that much themselves. They're pretty much feathers and "air-filled bones", so the prey they're strong enough to hoist away is severely limited to rodents like mice, squirrels and similar rodents. While they might make a pass at your pets, the odds aren't in their favor that they'll be able to pick them up.
That said, the same USA Today article that debunked the notion that hawks can fly down and kidnap your dogs and cats did keep an important warning in place.
It is still recommended that animals less than 15 pounds be supervised at all times when outdoors because of other predators including owls, coyotes and hawks.