White, J., Kemmelmeier, M., Bassett, S., & Smith, J. (2017). Human perceptions of an avian predator in an urban ecosystem: close proximity to nests increases fondness among local residents. Urban Ecosystems, 1-10.
How humans view their local birds influences the habitat quality for the birds. Humans that enjoy birds will often consider them when altering landscapes or may enhance their own property to benefit the birds (e.g. maintaining birdfeeders, keeping cats indoors). Human perceptions of hawks are unique as hawks predatory and much larger than most other urban birds. From June–July 2016, we surveyed 280 homes near Red-tailed Hawk’s (Buteo jamaicensis) nests in Reno-Sparks, NV about their perceptions of and experiences with hawks. Seventy percent of residents viewed hawks positively, 3% negatively, and 27% indifferently. Results from generalized linear mixed models indicated that whether residents had domestic animals threatened by hawks, or raised chickens, did not impact the residents’ perceptions of hawks (p = 0.52, p = 0.57, respectively). Age was also a nonsignificant indicator of residents’ perceptions of hawks (p = 0.34), though the residents that viewed hawks negatively were concentrated between 40 and 70 years of age. Mediation analysis revealed that human experiences with hawks (e.g. observing hawks) fully mediated the relationship between resident proximity to a nest and whether they viewed hawks positively (p < 0.001). This human-hawk relationship lies within the broader topic of nature-society interactions and based on our findings we suggest that residents’ experiences with hawks can lead to the residents obtaining some of the benefits of nature-society interactions. Though unquantified in our study, these benefits can include increased positive emotions and life satisfaction, which lead to healthier residents that are more likely to engage in conservation activities.