Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Scourge of the small birds.....



....comes to a sticky end.

As the farmer waited at the farm gate this morning for a lift to his shooting expedition, he happened to notice something interesting under the Scots pines, and went to investigate. It was a dead sparrow hawk.

We have a selection of bird feeders and they are all located close to a rhododendron bush and a selection of small fir trees. This is intentional as it gives the small birds plenty of cover. We get a good selection at the table - all the finches, all the tits, house, hedge and tree sparrows, spotted woodpeckers, robins, blackbirds and now and again more of a rarity. One thing they all have in common is that they watch out for each other; watch out for that scourge of the small bird population - the sparrow hawk.

When he comes through, he comes at a fair rate of knots. Last week a friend surprised him in the pasture finishing off the remains of a mallard duck he had caught. All that is left is the duck's bone structure, it has been picked clean.
All birds have to live and the sparrow hawk survives at the expense of the small birds that are not quick enough to escape.

So how come he died? My guess is that he was going through so quickly that he hit a tree. The trees are quite close together. I can think of no other explanation.
He has been there several days so is not in perfect condition by any means, but I thought readers would be interested in seeing what he looked like. I took a close up and a longer shot - not sure there is that much difference.

##I call the sparrow hawk 'he' - for all I know it could be a 'she' - no doubt if my bird-watching friends read this they will let me know. (Yes, G and J, I mean you).

18 comments:

annell said...

I love hawks. Sunday November 14, Bright Ideas

This happened outside my window. I thought you might like to read this. Thanks for the post.

thousandflower said...

Everything we eat is alive until we cook it or eat it. Just in some cases it is more obvious than others. Not only do the hawks have to eat but they keep the populations of other bird stabilized. We have a small population of several different kinds of hawks on the farm as we have good habitat for them, deep woods and a clearing so the predators can hang out on the edges of the clearing.

Tom Stephenson said...

I once saw a sparrow-hawk eating a smaller hawk (can't remember the name, but not kestrel) A rare sight I think.

Crafty Green Poet said...

sparrowhawks are wonderful birds but terrors in any garden. I'd guess a feamle, the male is bluish on the back

Heather said...

I remember chatting to a neighbour over the fence when a sparrowhawk swooped down and took a young bird which had been feeding on her lawn, only a few feet from us. They are very handsome birds but do have some rather nasty habits.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

We have enormous hawks here. They catch the mourning doves for lunch. Quite formidable creatures! We were careful not to leave Apple out in the garden by herself when she was a pup.

Mad Bush Farm said...

WE have a pair of hawks here living on our farm. That's sad the hawk died but it happens. Sorry to read you have not been well Weaver. I've had my own trials and tribulations the last few months with my Mum having a serious heart attack so I'm only just getting back to normal blogging wise. I hope you are a lot better now and happy new year to you.

All the best
Liz

Gwilym Williams said...

I recently saw a blackbird snooping around near the small birds. Not an omen I hope. Mind you, everything has to eat.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

We have a sparrowhawk that visits occasionally and it usually takes a pidgeon, no measly blackbird or sparrow for this magnificent killer/hunter!

Elizabeth said...

I was looking at yesterday's post of the moon!
Very splendid.

As to the icy puddle --very English somehow they don't seem to freeze in quite the same way here
with the pale 'skin' on top.

SY said...

animals and their instinct to protect.. we could learn something from them

patteran said...

Sad, sad. I love to watch the hawks - sparrow, kestrel and red kite - that wheel over the fields across the way from us.

That's a much more cheering header picture you're using now, Pat. Thanks for the indication that there might be another spring due us soon!

Rachel said...

Hawks are beautiful birds to see working in the fields. We see them often here in Norfolk. They take a pigeon on the wing which is a wonderful sight and as we have far too many pigeons it is even better. It is very sad that you found the dead hawk.

Dave King said...

Fascinating as always. We, too, in our semi-urban existence have our own local sparrow hawk. We see him (her?) hovering sometimes. Lying in wait.

Country Girl said...

I love hawks, too and think they're beautiful. Everyone's got to eat. And I justify all of our bird feeders with having plenty of cover to hide from predators.

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Just yesterday I filled the hummingbird feeders with the anticipation of the spring to come. Now waiting for the little guys to show up:) Thanks for the photos of the sparrow hawk, very interesting!

Jo said...

Hi, Weaver. LOVE the picture of the flowrs poking up...not so much the bird carcass on the ground.

Poor guy. Just flying around pursuing his prey when, WHUMP! It's all over.

Sad end to a noble hunter.

annell said...

Well I'm sorry? I forgot to post where:
http://somethingsithinkabout-annell-annell.blogspot.com/2010/11/sunday-november-14-bright-ideas.html

I don't know but I'm almost sure we have sparrow hawks? I'll check.