Angry birds? No, dive-bombing Naples Park hawks just protecting their young

Greg Kahn/Staff
A red-shouldered hawk fledgling peers out from its nest on 109th Avenue North in North Naples on April 30, 2012. After a recent storm, the hawks' nest, with two fledglings inside, toppled out of a tree, killing one of the baby birds. The other fledgling was taken to the Conservancy and later placed into a new nest, a laundry basket, in a tree across the street from the original location between two houses. Since then, the parent hawks have been swoop attacking residents that walk near the nest. Some residents have been injured by the hawks.

Photo by GREG KAHN, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Greg Kahn/Staff A red-shouldered hawk fledgling peers out from its nest on 109th Avenue North in North Naples on April 30, 2012. After a recent storm, the hawks' nest, with two fledglings inside, toppled out of a tree, killing one of the baby birds. The other fledgling was taken to the Conservancy and later placed into a new nest, a laundry basket, in a tree across the street from the original location between two houses. Since then, the parent hawks have been swoop attacking residents that walk near the nest. Some residents have been injured by the hawks.

— Hawk attacks in Naples Park are leading residents to wield umbrellas and don hats for protection.

The attacking birds are showing up on a stretch of 109th Avenue North, injuring several passers-by in recent weeks and drawing the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s attention.

“When the eggs started to hatch, that’s when they started not just diving down at people, but hitting them,” said Donald Boyer, whose royal palm tree became the home of two red-shouldered hawks and their eggs about a month ago.

He said he’s counted nine hawk attacks with blood drawn in the past month.

“It was a horrible situation when people were getting hurt ... Two people had to get medical treatment,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the Conservancy’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic.

Joanna Fitzgerald

Joanna Fitzgerald

“It was a horrible situation when people were getting hurt ... Two people had to get medical treatment,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the Conservancy’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic.

There hasn’t been a case this troublesome to humans in Collier since Cooper hawks slowed the construction of a Naples parking garage several years ago, Fitzgerald said.

“Birds will dive bomb you to defend their nests, but they don’t tend to do harm,” she said.

Barbara Boyer was one of the first targets when she went to get mail in early April.

“I was like ‘what the heck?’ Well, I said a little more than that … Sure enough, that son of a gun had gotten me with its talons. I was bleeding from my ear,” Boyer recalled.

Donald Boyer, her husband, was attacked twice but said their experiences weren’t the worst of it.

“I was inside and I heard screaming. When I looked outside I saw this girl crouched down with her hand over her eye and blood dripping down between her fingers. I thought it gouged her eye out,” he said.

Boyer called 911. It turned out the teenage girl, here on spring break, was bleeding from scratches on her scalp and temple, he said.

“It turns out head wounds just tend to bleed profusely,” he said.

Stories of such attacks come from every house on the street within sight of where the hawks made their nest. Some joggers said they traveled by safely; some walkers said they weren’t so fortunate.

The nest was knocked from the Boyers’ royal palm in an April rainstorm, which left the fledglings on the ground. Only one of the young survived.

The Conservancy delivered a new “nest,” which is actually a wicker laundry basket. Unable to safely secure the basket into the palm tree, they chose a tree across the street where Brad and Martha Cornell live.

The Boyers had put a “Beware attack hawk” sign in their front yard but it’s since been taken down. Across the street, a new sign and two orange cones were put out where the hawks now nest.

The warning sign now reads: “Caution!! Hawk attacks. Wear hats. Use umbrella.”

“It’s calmed down a bit since the eggs hatched,” Donald Boyer said.

Passers-by still are intimidated.

Jared Hamilton, 21, and father Will Hamilton, 43, of Naples Park, jog past the nest frequently, but haven’t been approached by a hawk.

“You do one of these when you get past the sign,” said Jared Hamilton, doing a quick backward jog and looking toward the sky. “You see them and you start running faster.”

Sherry Tomis, 67, had a close encounter with one of the two hawks as she took a walk to visit a neighbor.

When she saw the sign, she looked up for a hawk.

“An old guy pulled into his driveway. I see he’s got an umbrella. He says to me ‘Lady, you’d better move.’ I was thinking ‘Is this for real?’ and no sooner had I said that when rarrrr,” Tomis said, motioning her hand like a diving bird.

The property owners with the nest could get a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the birds, which although not migrating, are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

They decided not to do so when it seemed it might settle down, the Boyers said.

There’s a good chance the hawks will continue to nest in their neighborhood year after year. The mother and father hawks are continuing to care for the remaining baby, which could take a couple more weeks to fledge. Once that happens, the hawks should be less defensive, Fitzgerald said.

Residents of the street said they realize the hawks are just protecting their young.

“We didn’t want to hurt them,’’ Barbara Boyer said. “We just didn’t want them to hurt people.”

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 13

HAP writes:

If you live in SW Florida, expect to live among our wildlife. If you don't like it, move. They are just protecting their young and what is left of the species. Human rage in protecting whatever they have is much worse, like guns, you know.

Bigkondorsback (Inactive) writes:

"Horrible situation". Oh my God, the pussification of America at its best.

WISENHEIMER writes:

WHERE'S TIPPI HEDREN WHEN YOU NEED HER? SHE WAS A 'BIRD MAGNET." LOL

mr_1_term_proposition writes:

in response to HAP:

If you live in SW Florida, expect to live among our wildlife. If you don't like it, move. They are just protecting their young and what is left of the species. Human rage in protecting whatever they have is much worse, like guns, you know.

Thank God your so smart! I'm glad to hear there is no wildlife anywhere else in the whole world!

itmattershere writes:

It's only for 6 weeks, you would defend your little one's. I love it, I wish they would nest closer to my place.

Here4Now writes:

The birds are just p'd off that they have to live in Naples Park.

BackwoodsBill writes:

"Unable to safely secure the basket into the palm tree, they chose a tree across the street where Brad and Martha Cornell live."

Isn't Brad Cornell an official with the Audubon Society? A coincidence?

Flyfish111 writes:

I put the basket up. The logic in these cases is use the closest tree with the easiest and safest access for both the Birds and the Volunteer.
Great to meet the Cornell's after I made the decision where the basket was going. It was a successful reunion of Parents and the one surviving chick and a bonus to have it close to people who defend our natural resources. cheers.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to Here4Now:

The birds are just p'd off that they have to live in Naples Park.

Yeah the smell of Moth Balls scares them off from Olde Naples!!!

stonnerjohnnyII writes:

in response to Here4Now:

The birds are just p'd off that they have to live in Naples Park.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

osamaisdead writes:

in response to Flyfish111:

I put the basket up. The logic in these cases is use the closest tree with the easiest and safest access for both the Birds and the Volunteer.
Great to meet the Cornell's after I made the decision where the basket was going. It was a successful reunion of Parents and the one surviving chick and a bonus to have it close to people who defend our natural resources. cheers.

Aren't you interfering with natural selection by saving the offspring of hawks who are clearly deficient in their ability to provide a satisfactory nest for their chicks?

Here4Now writes:

in response to stonnerjohnnyII:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Which is where, genius??

Naples Park = Immokalee By The Sea.

stonnerjohnnyII writes:

in response to Here4Now:

Which is where, genius??

Naples Park = Immokalee By The Sea.

I know you live in Twin Lakes.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features