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Birds of Prey
Owls, Falcons, Hawks, and Eagles
Focused conservation and management of Maine’s raptors, including owls, falcons, hawks, and eagles, has led to increases in populations, although some are still listed as threatened or endangered. Remember that it is illegal to kill any bird of prey.
Maine is home to several species of owls, falcons, hawks, and eagles. These birds have hooked beaks for tearing flesh, sharp talons for gripping, wide wings and light bodies for hunting, and feathers specifically designed for fast, quiet flight. Humankind has a long fascination with raptors’ flight skills and hunting prowess. Declines in many raptor populations and conservation efforts to aid them have further elevated our awareness.
Enclose domestic animals - Free-roaming chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons, small domestic rabbits, and similar animals are susceptible to predation. House domestic birds in a durable, fenced enclosure that will allow the birds to safely eat and loaf outside during the day. Such a structure can be constructed with a wooden framework that is entirely covered with one-inch poultry wire or similar netting. This outdoor run can be permanent and attached to a coop or other building or be portable and moved periodically.
Where a complete and permanent enclosure isn't practical or desirable, provide escape cover. You can construct escape cover by placing planks, plywood, or chicken wire placed over logs, rocks, or bricks. This outdoor area should be at least seven by seven feet and the cover should be a foot off the ground.
Install scare devices - A variety of devices can frighten a problematic bird of prey. Increasing human activity in the area will keep most birds of prey at a distance. Yelling and clapping hands, firing a gun loaded with blanks (it is illegal to shoot any birds of prey), and banging cans together are all effective.
The "hawk globe" is basically a round mirror designed to scare an attacking hawk or owl. If it is placed in the flight path the owl uses, an attacking bird will see its reflection and retreat, giving domestic birds a second chance. Because owls hunt on their own, they may avoid returning to a place where they perceive competition from another owl.
Protect yourself from dive-bombing birds of prey: Most aggressive behavior from birds of prey occurs when they are defending their territory, homes, mates, or young. Not all species of raptors are aggressive near nesting areas, however in woodland areas barred owls, great horned owls, and northern goshawks can be aggressive and in cliff, quarry, or other urban nest sites such as lighthouses, bridges, and buildings, peregrine falcons may aggressively defend their nest. (Please report any peregrine falcon observations to Erynn Call, MDIFW Raptor Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for peregrine falcon identification resources).
When possible, stay away from nesting areas with aggressive birds until the young are flying (three to four weeks after eggs hatch) and the parents are no longer so protective. If you must walk past a nest, wave your arms slowly overhead to keep the birds at a distance and wear a hat (or helmet) or carry an umbrella.