WESTLAKE, Ohio – A man was attacked in the head by a hawk as he was mowing his front lawn on Detroit Road in Westlake Thursday.
“Well, I’m cutting the grass over there on the riding mover and boom, it hit me,” said Richard VarVir, 74, who has several healing talon wounds on top of his head.
“We had a problem with it swooping down on him once before but this particular day it landed square on his head with its talons, right through his stocking cap,” Fran VarVir said of her husband’s attack.
“When it hit me, I put my hand on my head and I was bleeding and I ended up going to the Cleveland Clinic and getting a tetanus shot,” Richard VarVir said.
Hawks have been known to attack people when they get too close to their young in the nest, according to the University of Wisconsin study ‘Nest-Defense Behavior of Red-Tailed Hawks’ by David E. Andersen.
The VarVirs feel, in this case, the nest was built a bit too close to people.
“But now it’s gotten to the point when I walk out to the mailbox I don’t know if that thing’s watching me or not,” Richard VarVir said.
He now carries an umbrella outside or he wears a helmet when he mows the lawn.
Hawks tend to return to the same area each spring to nest, according to Purdue University.
The VarVirs said next year a nearby tree won’t be there.
They had planned to have the tree removed before the birds arrived, but hawks are federally protected so they will have to wait for the eggs to hatch and the birds to leave before they can take any action.
The VarVirs want others to be careful around hawk nests and, literally, not to ruffle any feathers.
“My biggest fear is if a child walks out here and I wouldn’t want to see that happen,” Richard VarVir said.