Hawk attacks halt mail delivery temporarily in South Austin neighborhood

USPS has temporarily halted mail delivery in a South Austin neighborhood due to an aggressive hawk.

First reported by Axios Austin, residents living on Milam Place and Kenwood Avenue must pick up mail at the South Congress Post Office until further notice. 

"Imagine walking out of your house and knowing that you're going to get punched in the back of the head by an animal with large talons," said Alfred Del Barrio. "It’s not ideal."

The tree in front of Del Barrio’s Travis Heights home has been adopted by a neighborhood hawk that is particularly protective of its nest.

Even going out for a run now takes some extra planning. Del Barrio said one time he was able to avoid getting attacked while running because he spotted the hawk's shadow.

"My brother was on a run, and he thought I punched him in the back of the head, which I haven't done in 15 years," said Del Barrio. "I've always been able to dodge it. I just kind of like go underneath my awning or run into my car.

It's not just the residents that are aware of the nuisance. 

"The construction guys…get divebombs on their hardhats," said Del Barrio. "So you just hear a thump on the hardhats on the construction workers." 

The executive director of the Travis Audubon Society says this is not uncommon this time of year.

"We are just basically overlapping with them in their territory, and they are divebombing people to try to protect their nest, said Nicole Netherton. "Because we have had such severe winter weather over the past several winters, it is possible that we have lost a significant enough canopy that birds are having to look for different spots to build their nest…it’s possible that they are maybe building their nest in their runner-up location that just happens to be closer to people."


Wildlife biologist Blake Hendon estimates the perpetrator is a red-shouldered hawk.

"We don't receive tons of calls, but we do receive calls periodically. Those tend to be red-shouldered hawks. That's one of our more common resident nesting hawks in the area," said Hendon who works for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. "This is the time of year that they have constructed nests earlier in the season. They've laid eggs. And now at this point in time in the season, they are raising their young."

Hendon noted there is a six to seven-week transition period between the eggs hatching and the fledglings flying off. Because of state and federal laws that protect migratory birds, there is not much people can do. 

"Just giving them as much space as possible and really trying to ignore them so that they can get their business and breeding done is probably the best advice," said Netherton.

Both Hendon and Netherton said using an umbrella as a form of protection can be effective if the area cannot be avoided.

"It’s a short period of time, so if we can just keep that in perspective and try to live with the wildlife," said Hendon. "These hawks do provide a nice ecological service within our urban areas; certainly, they're preying on rodents, especially."

Here is the full statement FOX 7 Austin received from USPS on Monday:

"The Postal Service always strives to provide the best possible service; however, the safety of our employees and customers is our priority. With regards to mail service in the Travis Heights neighborhood, the presence of a hawk has prevented safe delivery of mail to a few of the residents on Milam and Kenwood streets. Local management at the South Congress Post Office has contacted Austin Animal Control and Texas Parks & Wildlife for assistance in resolving the situation, as hawks are a protected species. We are committed to working closely with these organizations to resume mail delivery as quickly as possible. In the interim, affected customers may pick up their mail at the South Congress Post Office, located at 3903 S. Congress, Austin, TX, 78704, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate their patience as we work to successfully resolve this matter."