Bird crisis in Nichols Park

To the Editor:

I have noticed with great alarm that there is a deadening silence in Nichols Park in the early morning and early evening when we should be hearing the cacophony of bird songs — sparrows, robins, cardinals, crows, occasional mourning doves — silence except for the shrill of dive-bombing Coopers Hawks. They swoop across the park scooping up whatever their talons can grab. From my back porch I watch four of them go after squirrels and other small critters. I have never seen them here before. This spring as I longingly waited for the songs of mating birds which for me is one of the first signs of spring, there was nothing. When I walked to work at Ray School, I heard and saw lots of robins, cardinals and crows. In Nichols Park, nothing.

Could any ornithologically minded or trained readers please comment on this latest addition to our neighborhood? They are amazing to watch, though a little intimidating, especially as they seem to lose any fear they might have had of humans. One landed on the rail of my porch this evening, not five feet from where I was standing, and stayed there for about two minutes before flying off to join its family. Some questions I have: I thought hawks were solitary hunters? These guys hunt in a group. Will they ever go away? Where did they come from, that is, what is their natural habitat? Why are they here? Will the native bird population be able to recover? Are pets at risk?

If anyone cares to watch them, they can be easily be seen from the north end of Nichols Park where they have their nests in the cottonwood trees.

Jane Averill