A hawk swooped down from a tree Sunday morning in northwestern New Canaan and used its talons to scrape the top of a man’s head, drawing blood, officials say.
The incident unfolded in the area of Lost District Drive and West Road as the man worked in his garden, according to New Canaan Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm. He and his family were aware that hawks had nested in a tree on their property and that their fledglings recently had hatched, she said.
“They were actually very excited because they saw the nest and the activity and were very thrilled to have them there until [Sunday] when one swooped down and injured the guy when he was trying to work in the garden,” Halm said.
New Canaanites regularly phone Animal Control about hawks—generally thought to be the common red-tailed hawk—swooping down from their nests, though it’s very unusual for one of the birds to make physical contact with a person, Halm said.
“Once they have established their territory, it’s a problem,” she said. Halm added, “They can be especially aggressive if you get next to their nest during nesting season.”
Halm said she recommends that residents with hawks nesting on their properties use golf umbrellas to protect themselves “and hopefully that then will discourage the behavior.”
“Also making the area a little more frightening with reflective tape, whirligigs, things the hawks may become intimidated by and less inclined to swoop,” she said.
Halm said the man who sustained surface wounds to his head didn’t have to go to the hospital but she recommended that he at least connect with a doctor.
The Connecticut Audubon Society has received reports of “attacking” red-tailed hawks protecting their nests in the past, according to a post on the organization’s website. The species is commonly found in the woods, according to the Audubon Society.
Hawks feed on small rodents, smaller birds, reptiles and amphibians, officials say. They breed beginning in about March and will use the same nesting areas for years. One to four eggs are laid in late March or April, in nests built into high-perched rocks or tall trees. Baby hawks can fly in 43 to 48 days, and their parents teach them hunting skills and so that they become independent after approximately two months.