When you’re outside and you see a hawk hovering over your bird feeders, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? It’s probably something along the lines of Shoo! Get out of here!

Why do we think that? It’s mostly due to the fact that hawks and other raptors prey on the backyard birds we’ve come to know and love. We feed small songbirds to enjoy them, not to fatten them up for birds of prey to gobble them down.

Despite their propensity of eating our favorite birds, having raptors around your yard can actually be a good thing.

Here’s why.

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Rodent control

Probably the best reason to have raptors hanging around your property is rodent control. Depending on your property, you could have a fair amount of rodents running about, even if you don’t see them very often. Most birds of prey will take care of these critters.

On top of rodents, birds of prey will also hunt insects, squirrels, and other critters you may not want hanging around your yard.

Getting rid of invasive species

While we don’t want hawks to eat up the chickadees and cardinals, there are many types of species we don’t want at our feeders. These include starlings, pigeons, House Sparrows, and other bully birds. Raptors will likely prey on these invasive species that may be monopolizing your feeders.

Bringing balance to the ecosystem

IMG_3190Even though some people don’t want to admit it, raptors have just as much right to eat as any other native bird species. When there are hawks targeting birds at your feeders, don’t be mad. Understand that you’re not only providing food for the songbirds, you’re also providing food to birds of prey.

Don’t feel bad about it. It’s part of nature and the raptors will likely only be able to target the weakest of the bunch. This makes the flock that visits your feeder hardier.

Great to look at

I hate to admit it, but getting to see a bird of prey in my backyard gets me far more excited than when I see a songbird. These larger birds are just more mysterious because they don’t usually come around and they’re often maligned by people with bird feeders. You can experience the same joy (if not more) from watching raptors on your property as smaller birds.