Hawks attacking residents in Oviedo neighborhood

See tips on how to stay safe from birds of prey

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor , Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

OVIEDO, Fla. - An Oviedo woman was taking out the trash Monday when a hawk swooped down and attacked, leaving her bloody and wounded.

Beverly Bonadonna said she's not the only person in the Whispering Oaks neighborhood to fall prey to the predatory birds and she's worried that children could get hurt.

Before the attack, Bonadonna said she saw the hawk out of the corner of her eye but never expected it to come at her the way it did.

"As I turned out of the corner of the eye, I spotted it again and at that point, it hits me on the side of the head, not just hit, but grabbed, knocked me to the ground. I had to kind of shake my head loose," Bonadonna said. "At that point, I started screaming for my husband ... then it flew away, it finally let go. I started to stand up, my husband had me sit down."

The couple used paper towels to sop up the blood until they realized further medical attention was needed. Bonadonna went to the hospital where doctors treated her puncture wounds and gave her a tetanus shot.

The whole ordeal was shocking for Bonadonna.

"I have never been attacked by one; never even considered that I could be. I have never, I mean, they swoop real low over our head but never considered it was really a possibility," she said.

The bird was strong enough to knock her to the ground and it was difficult to fight back because she was worried the bird's strong beak and talons would rip apart her fingers.

"We have children all over the neighborhood. Now, it knocked me off the ground, OK, it grabbed my head, it could have done a whole lot more damage had it been a child," Bonadonna said.

No attacks on children have been reported, but Bonadonna isn't the only one in the neighborhood to feel the wrath of the hawks. Neighbor Donald Cochran said he's been bombarded multiple times, most recently Sunday.

"He scratched me right in the back of the head, but if you weren't thinking about him, he could have knocked you down because he weighs about 5, 6 pounds," Cochran said."The first time I didn't know what it was, I thought something fell out of the tree and hit me, and then I see the bird. It was him. Then I was hauling the trash out and he hit me coming out the sidewalk and then he come back off. He tried again but I jumped."

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A nest is situated in one of the trees outside his home and he believes the hawks are trying to protect their young.

"I don't know if the young ones are coming out to feed, but this is the first year he has ever bothered anybody," Cochran said. 

Officials from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey said hawks and their nests are protected by law so it's practically impossible for them to be moved. Instead, officials encourage residents to stay alert and take precautions.

The best advice is to avoid the area near a nest, but for people like Cochran who live near the bird's young, officials recommend wearing a hat, helmet or carrying an umbrella. Cochran said the latter worked for him.

"The second day I had the umbrella when I came out to get the mail," Cochran said. "Yeah, he didn't bother me."
 

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