Saturday 9 December 2023

A Sparrowhawk Visits

Sparrowhawks regular raid the bird feeders in our garden, usually flashing round the side of the house and scattering the finches and tits. Sometimes they catch a bird, sometimes not, sometimes we're not sure as it all happens so fast. Then there is quiet for ten minutes or so before the first little bird, usually a Coal Tit, flies in and grabs a sunflower seed. Whilst we'd rather not see one of the birds killed we accept that this is how nature works and the Sparrowhawks need to eat.

Sometimes a Sparrowhawk fails to catch something and instead of flying off hangs around, sitting on the feeders and watching the trees and bushes where, I guess, it knows its prey is hiding. When this happens it's worse overall for the small birds than when the Sparrowhawk catches one of them as it prevents them returning to feed. This is especially so if the hawk spends much time doing so and also repeatedly fails to catch anything.

This happened a few times recently, during the cold spell when the garden was white with snow and the temperature never rose above freezing. For several days we saw a Sparrowhawk repeatedly fly in, catch nothing, and then perch on the feeders for a while.

One day it stayed for half an hour or so, occasionally shifting from one feeder to another and sometimes swooping rather slowly and lazily towards a bush and then returning to a perch. 

I think it's a young one, which probably explains its lack of success. Being able to watch it for so long and take some photographs was wonderful. With its beautiful plumage, yellow feet with long curved talons, and intense stare it's a magnificent bird. I hope it has enough success hunting to survive the winter.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the information.
    I believe I had one flying to my home the other day.