Parker

Hawk nest forces churchgoers to keep heads up

Staff members set up caution tape after bird scratches boy

Posted 8/24/16

Churches usually welcome new families into their congregations with open arms and a seat in the pew, but the Parker Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is using black-and-yellow crime scene tape.

A family of hawks recently built a nest in …

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Parker

Hawk nest forces churchgoers to keep heads up

Staff members set up caution tape after bird scratches boy

Posted

Churches usually welcome new families into their congregations with open arms and a seat in the pew, but the Parker Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is using black-and-yellow crime scene tape.

A family of hawks recently built a nest in a tree outside the front door of the church at 11755 Tara Lane. Officials from the Colorado Division of Wildlife advised church leaders to get used to them.

“They said there's really nothing we can do, just cordon off the area and try to keep people away,” said LDS stake President Chad Larsen.

The family of four hawks, a male, female and two juveniles, are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits people from moving or dismantling the nests of migrating birds such as owls and hawks.

Larsen said he found out about the nest when he received a call from a parishioner about a 4-year-old church member who was scratched by one of the hawks. The boy, Beckett Turek, wasn't seriously hurt, and his mother, Chantelle, said he was “pretty stoic” about the encounter, though he did want to leave the church through the back door on the day of the incident.

Church staff braved the divebombing birds as they set up caution tape and warning signs, effectively eliminating most of the church's parking.

Greg Bashaw, the church's director of public affairs, said the congregation has been accepting of their guests, even though some have left the building to find a hawk or two sitting on their cars.

“I'd say the congregation thinks it's pretty cool,” Bashaw said. “They've become celebrities… They're huge and they're beautiful.”

Bashaw said the hawks buzzed over church staff as they set up the tape and signs, but they've spent most of their time since resting in the nest or hunting in a field across the street.

The lack of parking complicated proceedings during a recent state conference at the building, but it also gave Larsen a theme for his sermon.

“I just said that we should all be more hawklike, more protective of our families,” Larsen said. “We should all make our homes a refuge, or nest, and cordon off our homes from the outside influences that can harm us.”

The hawks are expected to linger at the nest for up to another three weeks as the juveniles get ready to strike out on their own. But they may be back.

Wildlife officials said once hawks find a safe nesting site with a good food supply, they tend to return year after year.

“We'll have to stick that on the church calendar for next year,” Bashaw said. “'Watch for hawks.'”

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