Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sparrowhawk Tactics

It is a couple of months since I last saw a Sparrowhawk around the garden and the only reasonable photo opportunity was this one last August.

Female Sparrowhawk

Mid afternoon yesterday as I glanced round the garden I noticed there were no birds at the feeders. Suddenly a Sparrowhawk came diving in from the side of the garden, shot across the top of the feeders and climbed as it exited the end of the garden. That wasn't so unusual and I thought to myself, another photo opportunity lost.

That wasn't the end of the matter though. Within a few seconds the Sparrowhawk had circled round and performed exactly the same routine - diving in from the side, down over the feeders and climbing as it left the end of the garden. This time though some of the small birds which had been hiding in a tree broke cover and the hunter rapidly followed them until they were out of sight.

What I was wondering was - had I seen a deliberate tactic where the Sparrowhawk attempts to unnerve and scare the smaller birds into breaking cover?


  1. That's a terrific photo from last year! It seems we both have encountered birds of prey doing what they do so well ~ it sounds like it might indeed be a successful tactic of your sparrow hawk. Sorry I didn't get a chance to comment on your beautiful autumn-coloured post yesterday with your colourful collage and gorgeous tree. The chicken was a nice touch ~ it will need that 'coat of armour' with a bird of prey in the neighbourhood ;)

  2. I agree with Glo, that is a beautiful photo and well worth showing again.

    I have noticed without fail that when there is any evidence in my garden of the horrible finch disease, the Sparrowhawk always appears and I assume picks off the weaker birds. I have even taken to calling it Dr Sprawk! It may not deliver a desirable type of treatment but I suppose 'euthanasia' might be preferable to the alternative slow and painful death they would otherwise undoubtedly face.

  3. Hi again John :) I just noticed on your 'You might also like' links, reference to Bobby's birthday which I would have missed due to my first eye operation. What a lovely post it was and it was great to share his special day even though it was about seven months ago :) His preferred method of eating reminded me very much of Louis, he always has to examine everything carefully before he starts. I was also amused to see that he took quite a lot of it outside, perhaps he wanted to make sure he didn't leave crumbs for you to clear up...a very thoughtful birthday boy!

    BTW I can't see the link anywhere now, perhaps you have just replaced it with another, either that or I have gone mad :)

    I hope you don't mind me commenting on an old post here!

  4. Thank you Glo. Fortunately for the little birds I have seen the Sparrowhawk miss more often than not.

    This year has been the best for Autumn colours here for a few years. Usually strong winds blow the leaves away before I get a chance to photograph them.

  5. Hi Jan. I guess a swift end to a suffering bird is better than days of starvation.

    The 'You might also like' links are automatically put in by an external site and they tend to change. To find the birthday boy you need to click on April 2010 in the blog archive on the right. It's near the bottom of the April list.

    Bobby sniffs everything before eating and often pushes some things out of the way to get at what he wants to eat. He's like some wary Roman leader whose food taster is on strike ;)
    He loves to eat outdoors and often rushes out with one small piece, eats it and rushes back in to collect the next bit.

  6. Thats probably the case John, they are very crafty birds.

  7. Last winter I saw a pair of Kestrel behaving in a similar fashion. They were actually crashing into Laurel and frightening chaffinch out.

  8. Good observation John. I'm sure birds are smarter than we give them credit for.

  9. Hello Roy. It certainly looked a deliberate action.

  10. That was interesting Adrian. They must have been getting very hungry.

  11. I'm sure they are Keith. The more I watch the more I can see all sorts of birds working through problems, especially when it come to food.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

Related Posts with Thumbnails