SPRING HILL (FOX 13) - Neighbors in Pine Ridge Village are dealing with a set of feathery pests. A pair of hawks mating near homes is attacking residents in the retirement community.
For the second year in a row, the red-shoulder hawks have chosen trees above Renown Way to build their nest. The birds are very protective, according to neighbors, swooping down to attack anyone within feet of their nesting tree.
"This bird is basically vicious. It's not really protecting its nest. It's just being vicious," said George Nott, one of many residents who has resorted to wearing a helmet for protection from being clawed or pecked.
"When you get hit going to your mailbox, there's something wrong," said Nott. "The neighbors are standing in the yard talking, they get hit. They get out of the car, they get hit. They're taking the groceries out of the car, they get hit."
An estimated 14 people have been attacked by the birds, according to neighbors, including a cable man working on their block.
"It scrapes across the top of your head, and I don't have that much hair up there anyway!" said Al Hoelzer jokingly.
The hawks are nesting in a tree above his yard. He was recently attacked outside of his home.
"I was unloading groceries out of my car, and the hawk came down and hit me in the top of the head. It drew blood," said Hoelzer.
There are currently signs below the hawks' nesting tree, warning people to keep their distance.
While some neighbors are hoping to have the nest safely moved to a new location, wildlife officials have not agreed to such actions. The hawks, which are a protected species, must be allowed to continue their breeding season undisturbed.
"The bird is a protected species. The humans are not, as of right now," said Nott. "We'd like the humans to be the protected species."
The hawks' eggs could take until May to hatch.