I was on a popular thread today that made a false claims that hawks are not frequent predators of flighted birds, that small birds can kill a hawk and that parrot companions shouldn’t be concerned. In our area of Southern California, Red Tailed Hawks among others have a taste for pigeons and doves. Parrots left outside without proper protection and shelter are commonly attacked by a variety of raptors. For my network, here are ways that you can protect your parrot:
1. If you have a FULL TIME or unattended OUTDOOR AVIARY: DOUBLE LAYER and STAGGER steel, aluminum or nickel WIRE MESH 1/4″ apart to prevent raptors from reaching in and grabbing birds. This also protects from critters getting into the enclosure. Do not use any galvanized metal. It is coated with Zinc, which causes heavy metal toxicity in birds. The safest material is stainless steel. (Always remember to place a reliable lock on the enclosure to safeguard from intelligent birds releasing themselves and thieves.)
2. If you place your birds OUTSIDE DURING THE DAY under supervision: Make sure that there is adequate SHADE and SHELTER. Hawks hunt from the sky, block their view. This also protects birds from focused heat from the sun. In the wild, they would be able to create wind in flight and find shelter, which they are unable to do in captivity without your assistance.
3. If your BIRD is WITH YOU outside: PAY ATTENTION to the skies. Pay attention to your bird’s body language – What is it looking at? Is it anxious? Pay attention to the behavior of the wild birds. There is a universal danger call among all wild birds. Learn it through observation. The wild birds will simultaneously take flight and/or scramble. Your bird will instinctively want to join them. When this happens:
a. Quickly secure your bird. With both hands, remove from shoulder or high perch and move to waist level, close to you. MAKE YOURSELF TALLER.
b. If possible, FIND SHELTER or sit down while holding your bird. Stay there until the threat passes and the wild birds calm into normal activities.
c. Other modes of protection are using a CARRIER or HARNESS, if your bird will allow it (Claire will not and bites through her harness). If you establish trust with your bird, you can also use a scarf or towel to WRAP around your bird to stabilize an otherwise precarious situation including winds. (Claire has become accustomed to the wrap and this has been effective for us. I also recently bought her a backpack/stroller carrier, which should arrive soon.)
These are hawks, eagles and falcons that are prevalent in our area of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties of Southern California:
Photo Credit Featured Photo (Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk): Alan Krakauer/Audubon Photography Awards