Here's a terribly flawed opinion piece from Lars Fladmark of Duluth concerning the decline of North American songbird populations. His failure at raising pheasants rendered an epiphany, however erroneous, that hawks are to blame for the decline of songbird populations:
"What does that have to do with songbirds? The answer is: everything. Until this experience, I used to believe hawks ate gophers, mice and other creatures. That's propaganda. A hawk is designed to kill what flies. Clumsy on the ground, agile and fast in the air, hawks are equipped with talons and a beak that rival any butcher-shop tools. And they hunt and kill repetitively all day long."Link: Full article from Duluth News Tribune
This is a classic example of confirmation bias. Always remember that the adequacy of an explanation does not guarantee it is the correct one. I ran into the same argument years ago under a slightly different context (Roller Pigeons). This is an excerpt from my response:
From fossils collected in California, New Mexico and Florida, Cooper's Hawks have existed in North America since at least the late Pleistocene (half a million years ago). Birds that constitute traditional prey items for these and other raptors somehow managed to flourish for tens of thousands of years in their presence, including the Passenger Pigeon. So contrary to your opinion, hawks are not destroying native bird populations. Conservatively, the estimated annual number of North American migratory birds that perish from colliding with human made structures during migration is 100 million. Some suggest this number is as high as a billion birds each year. As tragic as either figure is, the number one cause of the decline of bird populations is still habitat loss and fragmentation. Like the demise of the Passenger Pigeon, we're to blame for this – not hawks.
Link: Winged Thugs
Original comments made to this blog post are preserved here.
Mr. Fladmark waited six years to tell us this? He would have been well advised to have kept waiting, I think. But perhaps worst of all is his concluding sentence, a rather ignorant and ominous suggestion: "Now, should we not convert Hawk Ridge to the Hawk Ridge Raptor Shooting Center?"
Link: What's really killing our songbirds
Link: Laura Erickson responds
Cooper's Hawk © 2012 Mike McDowell