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Mike - according to the RSPB website, the current estimate for sparrowhawk numbers is 41,100 breeding pairs and their numbers are directly regulated by the number of prey birds, not the other way round [unless man and poisons intervene which they still do]. Hawks, like wolves another misunderstood predator, NEVER overkill their hunting territory and if not culled by being hunted, the prey birds would die of natural causes including starvation and disease. If there are not enough prey birds the hawks do not breed or halve their brood to one - not like man. I suggest the 'hawk haters' visit the RSPB website and enlighten themselves, hopefully losing some of their ill-founded prejudices on the way.
mrs Bumble,Diablo,you are both obviously bird lovers,thats great,but I'm afriad for years now, the RSPB have given out false information has to the true numbers of raptors. as for being a beautiful bird how can you compare it to a charm of goldfinch? or the song of a blackbird? everything living thing has i'ts natural predator,(except raptors). now, instead of the "hawk haters" visiting the RSPB website may I suggest, the "hawk lovers" pay a visit to save our songbirds, where I am sure you will be trully enlightend!
The first time i saw a sparow hawk it seemed to come from nowhere wanting a meal from the feeding sparrows in my garden,the sparrows saw it just in time as they flew into the privots just in time followed by the hawk i thought the hawk had broke it's wings but it flew off empty handed leaving a big hole in the privots.
I do not compare the sparrowhawk to any other bird, they all have a different beauty. I still say the birds in and around my garden have not diminished at all. We regulary get at least sixteen species in our garden.
if the sparrowhawk carries on breeding has it has (with i'ts numbers unchecked)I'd wager with you Mrs Bumble, that in 10 years time you will not have sixteen speices of songbirds in your garden then.


Well I am an RSPB member and have been for years, no-one will ever change my mind, I loathe them, and always will, but I am not a hater of most other birds of prey. I have for many years thought that mankind is probably the worst creature on this planet. We had a sparrowhawk catch a wren earlier in the year, its mate called and looked for it for ages. Still no doubt some people would have found that thrilling, just the way some people like to watch lions in Africa kill zebra, or go out shooting and find it fun. It takes all sorts as " they " say. I'm happy with my viewpoint, and no doubt you are all happy with yours
Reply to everyone Thanks for all the comments. It seems that sparrowhawks have polarized opinion into hawk haters or lovers. I think it's important to remember that these birds are a natural part of the environment and as such are governed by all the pressures of wild living that come together to give a natural balance to the world. Unlike cats (and I have to be careful here because I am a cat owner and they've generated more than their fair share of comments already) which have numbers artificially maintained at a high level by artificial feeding, hawks and other raptors are limited by their natural food supplies and if there are not enough prey items about then they would not be doing as well as they are. Like all top predators they have to kill to eat. I know many people find this distasteful, but it is a natural, normal and sustainable part of the food web.
I was surprised and thrilled the other day to see a sparrow Hawk fly into my small back garden chasing the flock of sparrows that usually fly around my plum tree. I t rested for at least a minute on the top of the bird feeder. I live within 100 yards of the sea in the North Shore area of Blackpool and this I feel is not the usual habitat for Sparrow Hawks.
Helen - I agree that that there is something disturbing in watching one creature killing another although it is mollified by the knowledge that it is done to survive. Killing purely for fun I don't like which is why I actively discourage cats from loitering in my garden - well at least my German Shepherd does. The success rate of kills per strike for a sparrowhawk is about 1 in 10 and then it is usually the weakest or less able killed. It's a bit ironic that those happy souls who lovingly festoon their gardens with bird feeders and upset the natural balance in favour of the fed birds, don't like it when natures culls their results.
I think this debate has gone on long enough. Everyone has their own view and we are all entitled to that. The natural world is awesome, and something we have no right in trying to change. I for one will carry on feeding and watching the birds in my garden, and enjoy doing so whatever visits.
I'm a bit mystified by the "small, dainty" kestrel vs "the hefty weight" of a sparrowhawk, as they're about the same size and weight (though female sparrowhawks are a little larger & heavier)!
sparrowhawks!!! I hate them, I loathe them, I despise them. I can no longer let my doves & fantails out, as no sooner out the residant sparrowhawk has an easy meal, leaving me to clean her mess up & dispose of part eaten remains. yes I really do hate them.
i would rather have a sparrow hawk in my garden than have a magpie they have torn out two nests in my garden this year a total of 9 eggs


I'd love you to have my sparrowhawk in your garden Mr grower. I'm pleased the magpies had 9 eggs as thats 9 less meals for the sparrowhawk
mike as it was two Robins nest it ripped out if you get a christmas card with a robin on it wishing you a merry christmas it didnt come from my garden as they didnt have time to see the sun because of the magpie damage
grower, I would not have had your robins on my xmas cards as the bloody sparrowhawk would have seen to that. hopefully a good hard winter, plenty of freeze ups & we might thin out a few sparrowhawks. here's to wishfull thinking.
Just found this site, while trying to look up facts about sparrowhawks. I have aloft full of expensive racing pigeons, and the hawks are a ruddy pest! Also they are quite happy to eat their prey alive!! I know I've seen it! An article I sourced a few minutes ago estimated as many as one hundred and ten million song birds per year year could fall victim to sparrow hawks. So to say they have very little effect on song bird numbers is I think quite frankly laughable!!
sparrowhawks are a prime example of a supririor hunter, and if they dont take more than what they need, i think we should considor ourselves lucky to whitness their technique. You do feel for the victom but the victim but its a natrual cycle.