Dog owner says hawk swooped in bid to snatch her shih tzu dog Hudson while he was being walked in the park
- Craig Davis walking dog when he saw ‘huge black thing coming down from trees’
- Pet ‘immediately bolted off’ home and was found ‘twitching by the back gate’
- Later park visitors posted photos of a bird of prey, identified as a Harris hawk
- Birds of prey expert said animal must have escaped from a private collection
- Has your pet been threatened by a bird of prey? Contact email@example.com or phone 020 3615 3874
A dog owner says a hawk swooped on her dog in a bit to snatch it away as he was being walked in the park.
Craig Davis was out with shih tzu cavalier cross Hudson in Barnes Park in Sunderland when he caught sight of a ‘huge black thing coming down from the trees’.
Describing what happened next, his wife, Lauren, said: ‘The dog immediately bolted off, he was terrified still when he got home and was sat waiting by the back gate when my husband found him.’
Lauren Davis with her dog Hudson (right) which she said was swooped on by a bird of prey in a local park. Other visitors posted photos on Facebook of the bird, identified as a Harris hawk
Baffled by what had unfolded, Mr Davis logged onto the Friends of Barnes Park Facebook page where visitors had posted pictures of a bird of prey in the trees.
A birds of prey expert confirmed to MailOnline it was a Harris hawk. As this is a non-native species the bird must have escaped from a private collection.
Has your pet been threatened by a bird of prey?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 3615 3874
Mrs Davis, 28, said her dog was ‘extremely lucky’ as she compared his case to that of Gizmo the Chihuahua, which was snatched by a seagull this summer.
The couple are convinced that same hawk made a beeline for Hudson, with Mrs Davis claiming it may have had sinister motives. ‘Maybe it was hungry,’ she said.
Hudson in Barnes Park in Sunderland, where the Harris hawk was spotted by several visitors
She has now issued a warning to other dog walkers to be ‘extra vigilant’ while using the two-mile long park.
‘Keep your dog on a lead at all times until you know the hawk has been captured,’ she urged.
It comes months after Chihuahua Gizmo is thought to have been snatched by a seagull in Devon
It comes months after Chihuahua Gizmo is thought to have been snatched by a seagull in Devon.
The four-year-old was apparently taken from owner Rebecca Hill’s garden by a bird.
It has never been spotted since, amid fears the gull swallowed the pet.
However weighing up to a kilo with a huge wingspan, Harris hawks – which are day hunters – could pose a problem to a smaller dog as they tend to feast on creatures such as rodents and rabbits.
‘This was actually a bird of prey, so I’m just happy Hudson isn’t a really tiny dog as it may have flown off with him,’ Mrs Davis added.
‘It would easily have taken off with a little Chihuahua.’ Harris hawks – named after the famous ornithologist Edward Harris – are generally 48-56cm in length and have a wingspan of 135-165cm.
They can weigh up to 2.5lbs and feed on rabbits, rats and a variety of birds.
Has your pet been threatened by a bird of prey? Contact email@example.com or phone 020 3615 3874
Harris hawks: Fearsome hunters known as the ‘wolves of the sky’
A Harris hawk being used to scare off birds at Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo. Picture taken in 2007
Named after 19th-century US naturalist Edward Harris, the hawks can have a wingspan of up to 5ft, with females about a third larger than males.
Found in southwestern United States and parts of South America, including Chile and Argentina, other names for Harris hawks include Dusky hawk and Bay-winged hawk,
They can be identified by their dark brown and chestnut plumage and white-tipped tails.
They are nicknamed the ‘wolves of the sky’ because they hunt in ‘packs’, which allows them to catch larger prey, usually in sparse habitats, such as desert, woodlands and marshlands.
They eat rabbits, rats and birds but are themselves hunted by great horned owls.
The oldest recorded life span of a wild Harris hawk is 12 years and seven months but this can increase to 25 years in captivity.
Although sometimes spotted in Britain, these have most likely escaped from captivity as the species is one of the most popular for falconry. This is because they are one of the easiest species to train.
A £60,000 Harris hawk was used to rid London’s Trafalgar Square of its unwanted pigeon population.