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Residents Here Aren't Getting Their Mail, Thanks to a Hawk

USPS says delivery can't resume in Travis Heights area of Austin until aggressive bird stops attacking
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2023 11:28 AM CDT
Mail Delivery Halted in Texas Neighborhood Over Pesky Hawk
Not the harassing hawk in question.   (Getty Images/UA-Visions)

Residents in one Texas neighborhood won't be finding mail in their mailboxes for a few weeks, all because of an aggressive hawk who's been harassing the locals. Axios Austin first reported on Friday that the US Postal Service has suspended mail delivery to the Travis Heights section of Austin after both residents and mail carriers were confronted by the hawk, which is apparently protecting its young during nesting season, per NPR. A USPS spokesperson says that residents in about 20 homes will have to head to a local post office for their mail until it's been determined that the area is safe for mail carriers to return to.

Residents say their mail stopped coming around five weeks ago, and the USPS notes that it's not clear when they'll be able to start up delivery again. The hawk has set up shop in a tree in front of the home of Alfred Del Barrio, who notes it's been challenging living under these conditions. "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," he tells FOX 7. "It's not ideal." Construction workers have also had to contend with the swooping bird. "You just hear a thump on the hard hats," Del Barrio says.

Mail delivery was stopped last year as well in Travis Heights due to the combative bird, and there have been other such recent hawk attacks in Austin and other parts of Central Texas (a KUT reporter found that out the hard way in May in Austin's Highland neighborhood). Nicole Netherton, director of Travis Audubon, tells the Austin Monitor that trees damaged by winter weather may be leaving hawks' nests more exposed, meaning they might feel more vulnerable. Hawks are also federally protected, so options are limited on how the situation can be handled. "It is illegal to destroy a nest that has eggs or chicks in it or if the fledglings are still dependent on the nest for survival," a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department tells Axios.

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The local post office is working with city animal control staff and the state wildlife department to figure out next steps. For now, a rep from the Austin Animal Center recommends locals leave their homes under the cover of an open umbrella to shield themselves from an attack. Resident Eric Klein, who says he already does just that, has been slammed at least once by the hawk, in the back of his head as he was headed toward his car. While talking to the Axios reporter, Klein noted that the hawk was watching them from its perch in the tree. "He's trying to figure out what angle to hit us," Klein said. (More hawk stories.)

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