Many backyard bird feeding enthusiasts have a true love/hate relationship with hawks.
When a hawk has been at work at your backyard feeders, the cycle of life can become just a bit too personal. However, seeing a Sharp-shinned Hawk blasting through the backyard in search of prey can provide a moment of exhilaration.
This cycle of life drama is natural and occurs whether or not you feed the birds.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk and its slightly larger twin, the Cooper’s Hawk, must catch and eat at least one item of prey every day to survive. They do not kill more birds than needed to survive. They are successful in catching their prey about a third of the time.
Sharp-shinned Hawks prey almost exclusively on other birds; Cooper’s Hawks will eat other birds and occasionally a few small mammals, too. Something to consider is that quite possibly, the birds a hawk takes are old, weak or sick and removing them from the flock may help strengthen the remaining birds.