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I would be bowled over at the sight of a sparrowhawk in the garden!! Was honoured by visits from a kestrel in the past.Now am lucky to see birds at all due to the increase in domestic cats and am concerned that the bird feeders are luring them to an untimely end courtesy of these brutes. The little cloud of tiny feathers to a wild bird is nothing like when a fat, pampered cat is responsible.
I too am missing a pair of blue tits from our garden, Haven't noticed any predators but the sparrow population has multiplied considerably this summer. Have they been forced out like the woodpidgeons were by the crows? The poor things were pressured out of the tree they have nested in for the last two years. Birds mimic humans by ganging up on residents they don't want as neighbours.
We have been visited by sparrowhawks for the past two years and they are mainly going for the collared doves whose numbers dwindled due to the virus that affected finches and were this year slowly increasing in number. So far this week they have had three. The smaller birds I feed from feeders in either a hawthorn hedge or in holly trees which does seem to deter them, but they have been seen sitting on top of the hedge lurking with intent! I know cats can be a problem but they are not as brutish, and they do keep the mouse population down, and mice can do a lot of damage to your plants, and seedlings.
Over the last four years we have been participating in the R.S.P.B house sparrow project, providing mealworms throughout to summer and seed all year has helped the sparrow population greatly, with many into their fourth brood this summer. The knock-on effect of this is that we have also seen an increase in the number of sparrowhawks visiting the neighbourhood. The alarm call goes out and our little flock takes cover. However, the mourning period for sparrows seems to be about two minutes as the feeders are soon busy again. Taking into account the increase of both sparrowhawk and cat predation, our sparrows seem to be doing very well. They also munch through plenty of aphids and other garden pests, which is good news for the veggie plot.
We have been visited several times by sparrowhawks this year. The other day I heard a great squawking of blackbirds which were obviously very alarmed by something and when I looked through the window I saw several adults diving down from the fence into the garden. When I went outside, I found that a sparrowhawk had caught a young blackbird and the adults were mobbing it and trying to rescue the chick. The birds all flew off when I appeared and the young bird scuttled into a flowerbed for safety. It wasn't there the following day, so I hope it survived. I have found several sad little mounds of feathers in the past weeks but although I regret the loss of these little birds, it is still a thrill to see these handsome predators so close.


I agree that I would much much prefer that the newly hatched blackbird recently brutally killed in my garden had been murdered for food as part of survival, and not just for fun by the local moggie
Our sparrow population has vastly increased this summer but the local sparrow hawk seen only once at the beginning of the year seems to have moved on.
We were sitting out the other evening having a drink as the sun set and a sparrowhawk flew across the garden and caught a collard dove (one of a pair who had been canoodling on a branch and obviously wasn't paying attention) and landed on the lawn with it. As soon as it saw us it was gone - but what speed! The dove knew little about it I should think. We have woodpigeons nesting in trees in our garden too and there's nearly always feathers somewhere around. I guess they are in plentiful supply and make a good meal for a sparrowhawk - much more than a blue tit. Perhaps encourage some more pigeons to your garden? We also have foxes who catch baby herring gulls occasionally which helps to keep them in check too. It's just the circle of life isn't it?
In the leafy edge of sarf west London I often see sparra'hawks circling way up in the sky. And yes they swoop down on my little song birds. It was August a couple of years ago that a song bird was being eaten by the hawk and then we never saw a sparra till nearly Christmas that year. The warning must have gone out :O(
Thank you for all the information - now I know what must have had the collared dove in our garden a few weeks ago. I didn't see it, but was relying on a vague description from somebody without her glasses on at the time! As far as sparrows are concerned, I don't know where the idea has come from that their numbers are falling - they sure are thriving where I live. Also blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, blackbirds, song and mistle thrushes, warblers I haven't seen but have heard, wrens, dunnocks, and the odd tree sparrow and reed bunting visiting from the local RSPB reserve. The local cats, I'm pleased to say, don't make much impression...
My husband and I receive a lot of pleasure watching a variety of birds in our garden including the rarely seen ones. We have seen plenty of babies raised and bought by parents to the feeders. Alas we have also witnessed sparrowhawks taking Black birds in our garden but this is all part of nature and the natural cycle of life.
We do have a visiting Sparrow Hawk and the Collar Doves are the most Vunerable because they are always Billing and Cooing to each other and dont see the Hawk untill it is too late We do have a lot of young Doves 2 broods this year from several sometimes 30 flying around as we all feed them from 4 bungalows We are fortunate to have everything in the Garden Great tits yellow hammers Woodpeckers both colours Tame blackbirds that will eat the Cat food while the silly cat watches too old to move !

Chaffinches are plentiful and several nests of Sparrows The babies sit on the fence and the mother is frantically flying back and forth to feed them although they are really able to feed themselves We have wonderful pictures of a nest of Robins 5 babies and all survived to fledge and the pictures of them coming out of the nest We have Buzzards but there are plenty of Rabbits for them in the woods or the field so they dont come near to the houses Greenfinches and Bullfinches we have we put out crushed peanuts Sunflower seeds and a very good mixture of smaller seeds as well as corn all through the year .Hanging and seed on the ground slabs My husband is now making some fresh boxes for the winter roostings We can sit in the Garden and they dont take any notice of us We did have a French Partridge in March which was a Surprise but it only came for a few days It had Red legs and red beak

We also have a sparrowhawk in our garden. It has killed most of our collar doves, blackbirds and sparrows. This year we have put 6ft poles, 10" apart, around the area where we feed the birds. It does not look very elegant but it has saved so many birds. The sparrowhawk swoops down to catch them but the poles break his flight and the little birds have time to escape. It has caused many a comment, but at least we have more birds this year. Why not try it.
Living on the moors we do get the odd sparrowhawk we have had buzzards also a merlin flew into my kitchen I had to open a window for him to get out. A peragrin also passes by. We get birds like twite, wheatears, meadow pippets. even a black red start.Stone chats, goldfinches, lapwings, Green woodpeckers, and reedbuntings. I would love to have sparrows but we only get the odd one passing through.
I whole heartedly agree with you. The wonderfully diverse range of birds that we use to enjoy have been desimated with a sparrow hawk and because we are so remote the sparrow hawk is permanent. I have seen it rip nestlings from very secure nests, with the anguished parents bravely squawking in protest. When I try to put up mesh barriers it simply waits for the birds to come out. I contacted RSPB to seek a licence to control the sparrow hawk. They said that I could not touch it. I cannot understand RSPB's sadistic pleasure in condemning so many birds to a gruesome end. It it eco terrorism at it's worse.


Think of the Sparrowhawk as the ecological equivalent of a leopard or other big cat. By helping to maintain a healthy community of small birds, you are conserving a top predator. If small birds weren't thriving in our gardens where would he Sparrowhawk be? We have a duty to preserve nature in all it's tremendous variety. Even the creatures we don't like. Would we want all the big cats dead because they like to eat people's cattle in another country?
Has anybody noticed the decrease in sparrow numbers in ireland. I seem to have a rather large amount of robins now and very few sparrows. Mmm curious indeed.
I totally agree with bwallum's eco terrorism point. In the past 3 days a pair of sparrowhawks have killed four of my doves, badly injured a fifth which I don't think will survive, and four are missing. This stuff about the hawks killing quickly is nonsense. The sparrowhawks eat the doves alive. With the last bird I found they had ripped out its back and were eating its organs and it was still very much alive. I had to kill it myself. I get the preserve nature red in tooth and claw argument, but it is totally traumatising to watch your birds die like this. It used to be that whenever I was stressed I could just walk down to the paddock and watch the doves, the most soothing and peaceful birds imaginable, so beautiful, friendly, affectionate and calm. Now they are decimated, missing, or the remaining ones are terrified and confined to an aviary for their own protection, but that can only be temporary as I don't believe in keeping birds caged. I will try the post idea, plus hanging CDs in trees which is supposed to interrupt the hawks vision. What else can I do?
we have had a few sparrows taken last year by the sparrow hawk and a couple of starlings ripped apart in sight of the kitchen window, but most of our garden birds get away by diving straight into the shelter of the Forsythia, i think the only thing to do is to buy more defense shrubs and place them in the garden, so our little feathered friends have a place to duck and cover when this brutal killer is looking for a quick meal.
Well I was very surprised recently to hear a "commotion" at the bottom of my tiny suburban garden recently. When I looked out saw a male Sparrowhawk sitting on the fence with a blue tit in his claws (I only know it was a Sparrowhawk as I checked it on RSPB bird identifier site). Next door has hazel and pear trees and lots of little birds live in them. I feed the birds with nuts, fat balls and seed plus water of course. I was a bit taken aback but also surprised he was in my garden. So far this year I've also had a lesser spotted woodpecker and a green parakeet - all this in 30 feet by 12 feet. I guess its a fine line between not feeding them at all and them leaving, or losing the odd one.

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