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I was just wondering how all the rest of you feel about the hawks and owls. Just a bit ago I was on my porch listening to 5 different great horned owls. Although I enjoy them to an extend, I just feel there are way too many of them, and hawks too. Now when I was a kid, not only were they unprotected, but we got $5.00 each for a great horned owl. And back then, we had lots of small game. Now we got lots of owls and hawks, and very few rabbits, grouse, pheasants. About the only small game left is squirrels. Even the muskrats I used to trap are mostly gone. Now we hear from the game commission, well they only take the sick and injured. And of course habitat loss. Well there are only so many sick and injured, then what? Eat them all or starve, and the hawks and owls here are not starving or there wouldn't be so many of them. As far as habitat loss, maybe some, but I lived for more that 20 years on a farm, surrounded by alot of land that had never changed one bit in all of that time. The habitat on more than 1500 acres never changed. That is a pretty good amount of land for small game, and the difference from the beginning when the birds of prey were unprotected to when I left the farm is staggering. It went from plenty to almost none. From what I read I find that people who spend alot of time in the field feel as I do, and of course the government biologists support the other position. So how do you all feel??
Barry
 

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I think the birds of prey are doing very well. There seems to be plenty for them to feed on or there wouldn't be so many of them. That would mean the balance is good and all man can do is screw it up. The birds are doing fine as long as we leave them alone. 40-50 years ago we killed off a helluvalot with DDT and it took nearly a generation for them to get straightened out. I'd not like to see something like that again. If we didn't have the birds of prey you can bet we'd have a serious rodent problem.

That's how I feel about it.

Rick
 

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i love to watch them

i have 3 Redtails and a owl or 2 around here ..i love watching them hunt ! takeing squrrel's out of tree's and birds out of the air AND thay are snake kill'n SOB's !!! have a few falcans also thay love to piss off the crow's !:D
 

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Plenty around my place,I have one very large red tailed hawk I am not to fond of, It has tried to take my wifes( ok & mine ) miniture long haired Dachund. If I hadnt stepped out of the garage each time when I did she would have gone for a one way ride, Probably looks like a Bratwurst to the Hawk.:) Cant blame the bird,it is what it is. BIG predator like me.:)
 

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what i can't figure out

is why the buzzards are protected? They don't kill anything and there are so many down here in Texas there are companys that exist just to rid them from office buildings and power company buildings
 

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Back in my youth we had plenty of birds of prey and plenty of food for them. Then we used lot of chemicals for corn and alfalfa and it seemed all the small birds along with evrerything else just disappeared. We stopped useing the chemicals and now the little birds and such have come back. I leave the hawks and such alone as the damn voles have taken over now. I like watchen them too...
 

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I think they're awsome, and have always been facinated with them.

With that said though, I serously would like to see the state open a season on them here in Virginia.

We are blessed with a very strong squirrel population, but for some reason, our hawks, and owls seem to concentrate mainly on our rabbits. I've witnessed only a few squirrel kills by them, but have witnessed literally dozens, and dozens of rabbit kills.

I'm sure the coyote's have been working on our rabbits too since they showed up around the late 80's, but I KNOW the hawks in particular have nearly devestated our cottontail population. Up untill about 10 years ago, I could sneak along nearly any hedge rows around SW Virginia, and pop 3-4 rabbits with a 22 rifle, or a revolver in a couple hours. Now sometimes I'll hunt for several days before I see a rabbit!:(

I've had several hawks at one time sitting around a calling stand looking for the rabbit they're hearing. Yep, it's mighty tempting at times;) :D :D ...
 

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I love watching them too...especially the pair of Redtailed Hawks that follow me around the farm groundhog hunting. They keep a short distance from me but I can tell they are following me waiting on me to kill their dinner. A couple of months ago I watched about 15 or 20 crows harassing this pair of Hawks finally the Hawks lit in the limbs of a dead tree and the crows lit in the branches of a live evergreen (for cover)still harassing the Hawks every chance they got and not paying any attention to me as I set up my Savage 20 Tac on a bipod about 295 yds away. Anyway I vaporized one of the crows with one shot from the 20 Tac and the rest of the crows took off to parts unknown . Right at that time one of the Hawks flew down from its limb and picked up the dead crow carcass and carried it out of sight for the pair to dine on . I dunno but I kinda felt glad to help out with their dinner like that after being completely out numbered by that pack of crows.

Rodney
 

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hawks and owls and fox and bobcats

I've been keeping an eye on these creatures for 60 years. I now believe where you see small predators like hawks, owls and fox there are lots of smaller birds and animals for them to feed on. If not, the predators would either move on or starve. Rabbits seem to come and go, even if the small birds, squirrels and such remain in good numbers. Can't answer that one! Hawks do catch a lot of pigeons, I've seen that also and that's good. I wouldn't shoot them---unless they get my pet dog. Then it's war.
 

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Birds of Prey

I can't see hunting the birds of prey so there will more small game for hunters to shoot. Maybe the increase in hawks and owls is due to the fact that hunting habitat is disappearing faster than the small game and bird of prey habitat. That is, many suburban areas do not allow hunting but small game and birds of prey can thrive there. We have hawks, owls, foxes and now coyotes in our suburb north of Chicago but very limited hunting.
FULL DISCLOSURE statement: I am a birder that doesn't hunt but loves to shoot.
 

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Hawks, owles, eagles, falcon type BOP (birds of prey) get a pass. Crows do not, buzzards do.

I like watching the classic BOP, and we all enjoy them being around to keep the mice and other vermine under control out here in the sticks. They do take their toll on rabbits, tho. So, I generally give the bunnies a pass, 'cept maybe a couple each winter to throw in the crock pot for some variety.

Watching and reading about rabbit and BOP populations, it seems rabbit populations run in a 7-year cycle, according to several sources. Considering the rise in BOP of late, and the ebb of the rabbit populations 'round here of late, I wonder if it isn't just part of a natural cycle:

Low numbers of BOP, etc, & the omnipresent and prolific rabbit population increase rapidly, which in tern improves the food supply for predator critters, BOP included. The population of predators increases until the numbers of prey will not support the population of predators, and then the predator numbers fall off to starvation, low "birth/hatch rates, higher infant mortality, etc. Now, the prey critter's population up cycle is poised to begin again - bout every 7 years, depending on area and species.

We start out as young hunters, and end up being wildlife's biggest supporters and students...A GOOD thing for all concerned, I recon

P.
 

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Endangered Species-songbirds!!

No not another rant about alligators eating swimmers in FL. etc.

Wow, the Grey Wolf is off the Endangered Specis list today. Now some folw will get to have a great new rug.

I hate that bird feeders are not called HFS's = Hawk Feeding Stations.

Urban songb irds don't stand a chance against Coopers Hawks. Ever seen one chase a bird on the ground. I have. Beautiful creatures, but they have no natural enemies except crows, bid deal, and autos on the highway when the airborne warrior "presses the Target".

There are too many raptors. Old Doug
 

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See both sides

Being a land owner I've been around people on either side of this issue. First is a friend that has tried to nuture a quail population to just see it go away due to a couple of very eficient red hawks. Personaly I give them a pass as I feel their an integral part of the eco-system and as the balance is skewed one way or the other it will right itself as long as we stay out of it.
 

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Well......(sorry, long)

I personally think that the BOP around are a good sign (more birds have to be living off of something, right?). They get plenty of moles/voles, mice, etc. too - why don't we think this is something they should not kill - becuz we don't want to), and generally we white guys (said tongue in cheek), especially us Easterners I've noticed, have a tendency to wanna over-manage everything. In other words, we see a "problem" where there might not actually be one and we can then come up with a solution, which usually involves action from us, making us feel like we "did" something about said "problem"....any of that make sense? And I'm not just talking about this topic either.

Barry, I am also from PA, and (maybe this comes from me being "schooled" in the natural sciences) I think in PA we still have a heavy-handed attitude (I include myself in this statement also, regretfully) toward game animals, and animals in general, such that we should have everything JUST the way we want it, and nothing else shall interefere, or not be the way we don't want it. BIG Example: the whole Gary Alt/PGC deer herd management thing (I REALLY don't want to fire up this argument, just using it as an example) - for the benefit of you outta-staters, a few years ago the PA Game Commission started BOTH antler restrictions AND doe herd reductions across the state as seen to be needed by their biologists. MAJOR debate, especially amongst the older hunters, I've noticed. "How dare they kill off all the doe, don't they know that's where the buck come from?" was a usual statement, and anything with 3 inches of horn is something to brag about, but letting the buck live another year, and reducing the doe herd (WAY outta whack in most areas) and letting some food for future generation of deer and the bucks, is generally not considered to be good. Now, several years later, many more BIG buck are being seen and harvested in PA, and only blind people aren't noticing. But the herd reduction thru antlerless removal is not so popular, as many want to SEE deer, not necessarily MANAGE deer. Again, we want what we want, many deer to see, big bucks to shoot, no real hunting involved (more just chasing them around anyhow, for most of the state), and no considerationfor thefact that the deer have to live in weather like we're having now AND have food AND have cover to survive, while we're sitting in the warm bitching about it. Habitat improvemetnor lossinbiologists terms. There's a lot less sapling stage forest in the woods than there used to be in many areas, some from over-browwsing, some from not cutting the woods as hard as we used to - but it all winter food and cover loss, so less deer can, and should, exist in it, all else being equal.

But I digress.....I see this as a similar issue to "lower" small game populations here. We say nothing has changed, but in reality everything has changed. Point - when I was at home on the farm, in the seventies, we didn't have very good control of the weeds in the fields, although it was much better than in the 60's. Weedy fields have GREAT cover and food for small game, and regardless of the number of BOP, we had game cuz the BOP went hungry more since they couldn't find the small game as easily. Now, our fields are BARE in the winter, minus a bit of stubble, but not NEAR the cover for rabbits, etc. It looks like a damn carpeted living room around here anymore - what happened to all the foxtails I used to chase roosters and rabbits outta around here? No fence rows or over-grown farms either. Nothing goes to waste (farming economics and the continued increase in grain production per acre pushed this one), not near the spilled grain (better equipment = less food), better (more effective) sprays so less weeds, and fall tilliage (again economically-driven to get an early/cleaner spring start and get more acres in) have all reduced the cover on farm land. You also see few farms growing up anymore with land prices the way they are - they either still get farmed, or they are developed. Case in point - I can show you native birds some years around here (pheasants), but it has to be a wet year when the farmers can't mow out the ditches and wetlands and kill the habitat. AND I can show you a couple of BOP watching those areas intently for a meal, but if there is cover there, there's still plenty of game for hunt (unless everybody in town went thru these small patches already!) One farmer that runs a few thousand acres around here has a high-flotation combime and tractors that greatly reduce his soil compaction and help keep his crop production up - also allows him to DRIVE RIGHT THRU THE WETLANDS, and knock down the cover! Let your farmland get weedy and let briars grow up (and get your neighbors to do it too, cuz one farm isn't much in game terms, but you said you have 1500 acres around you), and you WILL have more game. This is how game farms preserve the birds they put out till the "hunters" come along (no slant on anybody, I hunt this way too to benefit my dog) by letting crops stand and making cover present - cover and birds pay their bills, grain is secondary (but at $4.50 a bushel and climbing, we'll see how that may change!)

I find a lot of my small game in the wooded areas now, where we can't reduce the cover - that's the habitat loss that's being discussed - its not just land lost to development, but changed subtlely such that there is little/no food/REAL cover value. Example - some of my grouse spots are dying out (cover is maturing) but I hit some new ones that are great this year, briary as a bugger to get thru tho! Salvage cut/gypsy moth killed areas, probably 5 - 10 years old now. Looks ugly, and that's what they need. Sorry for the OT stuff, and the long rant - this habitat thing gets under my skin when people can't seem to see it. Didn't mean to hijack your thread either.
 

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I have land in NC Montana that's planted to native grass (CRP) and it's hip deep in hawks, owls and even some Golden Eagles. The grassland has created cover for Pheasants and Hungarian Partridge (and Richardson's Ground Squirrels) and the BOPs have followed. I don't usually bother them. Guys that raise Pheasants for release tell me that the owls are much harder on the birds than the hawks. The hawks surely do get their share of the birds though, especially beginning in late summer after the Richardson's go into hibernation.
 

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I have no problem with most of the birds of prey. The ones I don't like to see around are the Great Horned Owl, The Accipiters(Bird Hawks) aka Coopers Hawk, Goshawk, Sharp-Shinned and to a point, Falcon. The soaring hawks (Buteos) & Kestrels are worth their weight in gold. Our Barn Owls are really needed for Vole control. I usually have a large covey of Quail staying in my trees but this winter the Great Horned Owls moved in and damned neared devastated them all. They also killed off and ate several of my Barn Owls and Screech Owls. I don't think I'm going to allow that any more. Here's a picture of two of my Barn Owls that were consumed by my shed by a Great Horned Owl:

Here's parts of other Owls out in my Pasture & Trees that the Great Horned'd got:

Also, It makes me sick to walk out into my trees and see the remains of maybe 60 to 100 Quail in big feather piles where they roost, as shown here:

More single piles that I could count all over the place, all Great Horned Owl Kills, like this:

I've seen the Sharp-Shins, Coopers & Goshawks move in and litterally wipe out all the game birds and songbirds before they'll move on. I don't think these hawks should be protected any more but at the same time, most people don't know crap about the difference between a Redtail, Rough-Legged type Hawk or an Accipiter like a Cooper Hawk and they end up killing all the wrong hawks. An Old Momma Quail will tell you the difference between a good hawk and a bad one. She'll bring her chicks out under a Kestrel or a Redtail sitting on a pole but you'll never see any bird out anywhere when a Cooper Hawk is around. I've had Quail land between my legs when I was welding in the shop when a Cooper Hawk was after them. Godsdog.
 
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