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Nesting hawks force campuses to re-route students

This Shutterstock image shows a red-tailed hawk in flight. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, it is the state's most commonly seen bird of prey.

PROVO — A pair of nesting hawks, apparently protecting their fledglings, are threatening walking students, faculty and staff at BYU. And they’re not the only hawks getting a little close and personal with college campus pedestrians in Utah.

In Provo, the Daily Universe reports the hawks have been dive-bombing┬ápedestrians walking by their nest behind the Karl G. Maeser building on the campus of Brigham Young University Campus. According to the paper, several people walking by have heard a “whoosh,” then been hit on the head by wings. Campus officials closed a portion of the sidewalk to protect pedestrians as well as the birds, whose fledglings appear to be getting ready to fly.

Hawks are protective parents

In June, 11 passers-by were attacked by a pair of hawks at Dixie State University, and one person was slightly hurt. Taking it in stride, some employees named DSU’s nesters “Dixie and Rebel,” and their chicks “Storm and Blaze.”

In May 2016, another nesting hawk attacked teachers and students at BYU. And in August 2017, similar activity troubled Syracuse residents.


The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says red-tailed hawks are the most commonly seen birds of prey in the state. Their range runs from Alaska to Central America, which means they can be found in all parts of Utah. While most commonly they build their nests in the tallest trees, they mate for life and often return to the same nesting area for multiple years.

While Swoop, the University of Utah mascot, is also a red-tailed hawk, there is no truth to the rumor that Swoop is, in fact, attacking students at BYU. However, Cosmo the Cougar was spotted giving Swoop a little side-eye just in case. Cougars, also known as mountain lions, generally prefer to prey on small mammals; red-tailed hawks are one of the creatures considered to be at the top of the food chain, but they tend to prefer other birds and rodents to big cats.