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Hawks nesting on NMSU campus are back, should migrate soon

Last year, a family of Swainson’s hawks made New Mexico State University their school of choice, nesting near Rentfrow Gymnasium and stirring up concern as a potential threat to the campus. This year the hawks are back.

“The adults may be aggressive for a while during the nesting phase and even after the young have fledged and the nest is still the center of their activity, but after a while, all will calm down and the birds will migrate south,” said Gary Roemer, professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology.

As a raptor, hawks are notorious for being aggressive birds, but the level of aggressiveness is usually individual specific.

“The juveniles are very docile,” Department of FWCE Professor Martha 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 month 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.

“While the juvenile birds are learning to fly the best course of action is to avoid the area and plan alternate routes for traveling. This may be unrealistic so alternative measure would be wear a sturdy hat, carry an umbrella or a stick to block the advance of the hawk in case of a strike. While traveling in this area it would be advisable to look skyward occasionally to check for the hawks,” said executive director of operations at Facilities and Services, Tim Dobson.

If you have any questions please contact Facilities and Services at 575-646-7114.