Sparrowhawk Kill

I have sometimes joked that “no animals were harmed in the making of this post” that is not the case this time.

This post is about a predator that lives in the wild and an animal gets hurt, well killed. I don’t begrudge the Sparrowhawk it’s meal but still I find it difficult to watch my birds being taken. If you do not want to see these things leave now. Visit some of my other pages on the “Recent Posts” tag I am usually quite nice.

This is a Sparrowhawk. It is a juvenile male that visited the garden back in March. It didn’t make a kill then and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts it left and I didn’t see it again until two days ago.

SparrowhawkThe next part of this post concerns today’s kill.

If it was just a matter of one bird I wouldn’t be too concerned but I am pretty sure that this bird has been hunting successfully here for at least the last couple of days. It is not always easy to see. On one occasion after the first kill I saw it swoop through the garden and try to take a bird in mid flight, it was only here for a second.

I like predators they are exciting, just not especially when it is my birds. They have a right to live and are an important part of the ecosystem. I could have tried to stop this kill from happening although the bird would probably just have flown off with his prey but I would not do that.

So this is what happened (With graphic photographs!)

The Sparrowhawk swooped into the garden and landed on top of the bird feeder, the little birds all ran for it. There must have been twenty of them in that Honeysuckle bush beside the feeder.

GardenThe hawk went in to the bush , you can just see him in this photo and he just grabbed one. A little Sparrow. Hiding in the bush was a rubbish idea.

SparrowhawkThen he brought it out.


SparrowhawkA Sparrowhawk doesn’t kill his prey any more than a Blackbird would kill a worm. If it had been a larger bird that he could not carry away he would have plucked it and eaten it alive right here.

Sparrowhawks are not cruel. Nature has no empathy between species. As far as the Hawk is concerned dinner wriggles and squeaks while it is being ate. That is just what food does. He doesn’t have any choice in the matter he has to eat to survive.

With a small bird like this his talons would pierce vital organs and the bird would die.

I won’t show you too much. After a brief struggle the Hawk took off with what looked like a dead Sparrow in it’s talons.

SparrowhawkIt would be nice if he just went away but I don’t think that he will, why should he?


Well the songbirds are still in the garden and just as busy as ever. I have some more, much nicer pictures to show you later. I just have to pop up and feed my Fox and Badgers first.


9 thoughts on “Sparrowhawk Kill”

  1. I understand perfectly what you feel in those situations Colin, I’ve been witness several times with the Cooper’s Hawks and voles or doves.
    You’re a good and fair man Colin! Thank you! 🙂


    1. Thanks HJ 🙂 I like Sparrowhawks and I am pleased that we have them, I am just waiting to see how much impact he has on the garden. Not too much I hope 🙂


  2. Wonderful pictures Colin, Sparrowhawks are beautiful birds and as we all know it’s just nature and part and parcel of the food chain, I’m always amazed as to how quick they are when they lock onto their target its like an Exocet missile hitting your feeders … I always think of it as a numbers game in terms of songbirds having maybe two clutches of 6 chicks during the spring as opposed to a raptors one clutch of 2 or 3 and then weigh up the survival rate of raptors which is never great … So never easy to witness the darker side of nature but our feeders that we set up are a huge help to these wonderful birds considering that a songbird can produce an offspring of up to 15 per year and only 2 of these need to survive and breed to keep the population healthy.

    This is an extract taken from the RSPB website which really hits home how tough it is to be a Sparrowhawk …

    Sparrowhawks are short-lived compared with other birds of prey. The average lifespan for a sparrowhawk is 2.7 years, and very few live longer than seven years. About one third of the adults die each year, and around two-thirds of the fledged young die in their first year, the most common cause being starvation.


    1. Thanks Marco. I will have no problem with them so long as the impact isn’t too great, I don’t want to witness a massacre. Today everything seems fine, the birds are all over the feeders and there is no sign of the Hawk. As you say the songbirds have a lot of young and they are not all supposed to survive. Seeing this splendid predator could become a real thrill 🙂


      1. They are wonderful to watch and I’m sure the impact will be minimal 🙂 … our problem Colin is being too caring and there is nothing wrong with that at all as it makes you a good person, I know myself that my heart melts when I watch a young fledged bird shake its body begging for food it’s cuteness off the cuteness scale … But good on you for sharing these images of nature as it really is 🙂


  3. We get sparrowhawks here too. Sometimes they get their meal, sometimes not. However I did once witness a sparrowhawk literally drag a bird out of a feeder that had a squirrel guard cage over it. He had quite a struggle but succeeded in the end.


  4. They’re not daft are they. I came home from work once, just in time for tea. Outside it was about half an hour until dusk. Roz noticed our resident house sparrows were on the back lawn, with the young fledglings trying to fly for the very first time.
    They would flutter away and rise about 6 inches of the lawn lkooking rather pathetic. Moments later I saw a petrified (living) bird in the talons of a Sparrowhawk. What amazed me about the whole thging was A) The parents took great care to let the young out at the end of the day when the threat levels would usually be low.
    B) The sparrowhawk was back at exactly the same time the next day! Usually we only saw one every few weeks.


    1. Thanks Stephen 🙂 I have stopped worrying about the Sparrowhawk now. He didn’t come back. I thought that he would stick around and cause chaos but no. The occasional visit is okay by me, I know that there are birds of prey in the wild and I like to see them. I am just a bit surprised that the easy prey didn’t keep him here.


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