Pair of hawks keep Bradenton condo residents in their place

cnudi@bradenton.comApril 17, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Some residents of Cortez Villas off 43rd Street West are walking around with umbrellas on sunny days and not because rainstorms are forecast.

The umbrellas protect their heads from a pair of red shoulder hawks that have been dive-bombing pedestrians the past month every time someone walks close to their nest, which holds at least one fledgling.

"I was bending down to pick up my paper and something hit me on the head," said Bev Brasgalla, who lives nearby the 40-foot tree on 34th Avenue West. "I looked up and saw the hawk fly away. I bent down again and it came back."

A couple days later, she was attacked again. "It felt like a bump," she said.

When she went to have her hair done recently, Brasgalla's hairdresser told her she had a scratch about 4 inches long on her scalp.

Another attack came just two days ago.

Marti Clark, an officer of the Cortez Villas Condominium Owners Association, said something has to be done to protect residents.

"One lady down the street had to go to the hospital," Clark said. "She was given rabies shots and antibiotics."

Resident are also worried about their dogs, she said.

"I talked on the phone to a biologist with (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission), and she said they would attack small dogs and could carry away one weighing around 3 pounds," Clark said.

Residents, however, are just going to have to live with the hawks until the fledgling leaves the nest.

"They are a protected species," said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman. "It's illegal to harass the birds." He said it is a federal penalty to destroy the nest.

Birds diving at people are common this time of the year, he said.

Clark said FWC biologist Angeline Scotten told her nothing could be done unless it was an emergency. She thinks it already is.

"I'm afraid someone is going to have a heart attack," Clark said. "They always come up from behind."

For Bob Teates and his wife, Sheila, their windows became an attraction.

"My wife heard noises in the back room and thought it was the computer," Bob Teates said. "When she went into the room one of the hawks kept flying into the window."

Teates said his son and wife were visiting Sunday and sitting in the living room when one flew under the porch overhang and into the front glass storm door, he said.

His wife also was attacked, Bob Teates said, and when she came into the house a bead of blood dripping down her forehead.

Another resident, Barabra Johnson, was attacked when she walked to the mailbox across the street from the tree.

"I turned around and whomp, right on top of my head," Johnson said.

She does not plan on using an umbrella in defense.

"I just said, 'Who do you think you are?' " the 88-year-old said.

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