Can Hawks and Birds of Prey Pick Up Small Dogs?

Video hawk carrying small dog


By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, attacking small pets is not a common occurrence, but there have been reports of such incidents. Imagine bringing home your tiny Yorkshire Terrier puppy, only to have a hawk hovering above you shortly after. This was the experience of Nancy Pistorius from Lawrence, Kansas.

Pistorius vividly recalls the moment when she noticed a large shadow passing over her 8-week-old, 1-pound pup, Minnie. A massive hawk was directly above Minnie’s head, ready to swoop down. Acting quickly, Pistorius waved her cane and screamed, deterring the hawk. However, the hawk continued to watch for Minnie’s presence, perching in their backyard or on the deck railing. A similar incident was described by Dr. Pete Lands, who witnessed a hawk picking up a small dog and carrying it away.

While reports of hawks and owls attacking small dogs are rare, it’s essential to be aware of the potential threat to your furry friend’s safety. Let’s dive deeper into the types of birds of prey to be cautious of and discuss some pet safety tips to protect small dogs from these magnificent predators.

Types of Birds of Prey to Look Out For

Birds of prey consist of hawks, eagles, owls, osprey, kites, falcons, and occasionally vultures. Laura VonMutius, the Education Manager for the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida, explains that these birds possess curved beaks and talons, along with a carnivorous diet. They primarily consume small mammals, like squirrels, rabbits, and voles, and sometimes reptiles, amphibians, and insects. However, eagles and osprey have a preference for fish.

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Birds of prey are known for their exceptional eyesight, often perching on street signs or lamp poles, waiting patiently for prey to come to them. Red-tailed hawks, the most common hawk species, weigh between 2 and 2.5 pounds. They are incapable of carrying anything heavier than their own body weight. However, it is possible for small dog owl attacks to occur, especially from larger species like the great horned owl, known for their tenacity.

Pet Safety Tips for Protecting Small Dogs From Birds of Prey

To protect your small dog from potential bird of prey attacks, homeowners and businesses have tried various methods. Reflective tape, hanging pie pans from trees, owl decoys, and sound-producing machines that create loud booms are some of the deterrents people have employed.

Jme Thomas, the executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Redmond, Washington, solved the problem by constructing a special enclosure under the deck where her 3-pound Fox Terrier and 7-pound Chihuahua can safely enjoy the outdoors. It’s similar to outdoor enclosures for cats, commonly known as “catios,” but Thomas calls hers a “pupio.”

Nancy Pistorius found reflective silver streamers and owl decoys to be somewhat effective in discouraging hawks from her property. However, she acknowledges the persistent hawk’s occasional return to her backyard. Vigilance is key, and Pistorius ensures she is always with Minnie when they are outside.

If a bird of prey makes contact with your small dog, Dr. Pete Lands advises checking for puncture wounds and other injuries. Head trauma, lung contusions, and internal injuries could occur if the dog is dropped during the attack. In some cases, symptoms may not immediately appear, with potential problems arising hours or days later. It is crucial to seek veterinary assistance if your small dog encounters a bird of prey to ensure their health and well-being.

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Remember, while incidents of hawks and birds of prey picking up small dogs are relatively rare, it’s always better to be cautious and take the necessary precautions to protect your beloved pet.