Hawks make home of Sparks family’s backyard; owner attacked multiple times

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:48 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A Sparks family is now sharing its backyard with a family of hawks - and the raptors aren’t shy about literally making their presence felt.

Since noticing their arrival around mid-April, homeowner Devin Mix has experienced multiple close encounters with the hawks, who’ve built a nest near the top of a pine tree in the Mix family’s backyard.

“It’s kind of like a nature reserve out here. It’s the perfect place for it,” said Mix. “I don’t blame the hawks at all. We’re cool.”

While the hawks haven’t appeared to be worried about Mix’s three daughters or the family’s two dogs while they’re in the yard, they’ve let the man of the house know he’s got their attention.

“My kids can come out here, my dogs can come out here. You can’t even tell the hawk’s here,” Mix said. “As soon I walk across the yard, what’s up!”

After nearly half-a-dozen encounters with no witnesses, one recent back-tapping led Mix to wanting proof.

“It just swooped down right away. Grabbed my shirt and pulled it. I ran in and grabbed my phone just to see,” said Mix. “People had to see what was happening.”

With the camera pointing at him, Mix walks into his backyard and slowly into the grass under his array of trees. After turning around, out of nowhere comes a hawk, kicking Mix in the back as the homeowner shrieks and falls to the ground.

“You can just see it perfectly in the video. The trauma in my eyes, looking for it.”

“As soon as I turn around, it’s almost instant.”

Mix later continues the video back inside his home, astonished at what he’d just endured and captured.

“I don’t know a single person that watched it that didn’t watch it 100 times,” he said.

Local falconer Kathleen Tigan, who also owns Raptor Adventures with her husband Jim, says this incredible meeting between man and hawk happens every year.

“This is a breeding season,” said Tigan. “They’re simply doing what they do naturally to protect their young.”

Despite now having over a half-dozen run-ins with the hawks, Mix has only suffered minor scratches. And also the scares of his life.

But Tigan says the difference between minor and major is in the hawk’s control.

“The hawk just wants him to go away,” said Tigan. “The easiest way he can make that happen is what that hawk is going to do.”

Mix agrees, knowing a hospital visit could’ve easily happened during any of their encounters.

“Hawks don’t miss, I’ve seen her catch mice out here,” said Mix. “I don’t think it’s on accident when she’s not hurting me.”

Tigan says the hawks, with their offspring in tow, should flee the nest by mid-July at the latest.

Mix says he’ll do his best to protect and maintain his territory while also respecting nature’s ways taking place nearby.

“I still have to run my yard,” said Mix. “Maybe it’ll figure it out I’m not bothering it at all eventually.”

Though his head will certainly be on a swivel.

“If a leaf falls off a tree, my heart drops. It’s a rush anytime you’re out here.”

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