A family of Swainson’s hawks have taken a liking to New Mexico State University, nesting near Rentfrow Gymnasium and stirring up concern as a potential threat to the campus.
“They’ll go through their nesting cycle and then they’ll move on,” said Martha Desmond, professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, confirming the hawks pose no threat to the campus community.
“Their young are fully grown and ready to fly on their own. Once they’re capable of extended flight, the adults aren’t going to be as aggressive,” Desmond said.
As a raptor, hawks are notorious for being aggressive birds, but just like humans it is usually individual specific.
“The juveniles are very docile,” Desmond said. “It’s usually the adults that are more aggressive and may even just be one of the adults.”
The birds are expected to clear out within the next three weeks and will permanently leave for winter migration south through mid-September. Most of the population spends the winter in Argentina.
A number of raptors nest on campus, which poses no harm to the campus community.
“Some raptors are attached to urban environments due to higher prey abundance – doves, lizards, insects on regularly watered lawns, etcetera,” Desmond said.
Cautionary warning signs have been placed near the north and east sides of Rentfrow Gymnasium and it is recommended that pedestrians seek alternate routes until the hawks leave. If you have any questions please contact Facilities and Services at 575-646-7114.
Information from NMSU