Okay we are waiting for the Sparrowhawk.
On Saturday morning I saw a Sparrowhawk make a kill in the back garden, I am pretty sure that it was a successful kill. I have seen this hawk here twice before and so far he has visited the garden got his dinner and then disappeared for a couple of months, he has not been a problem or made any impact on the bird population. I have come to look forward to his visits.
This is the bird on an earlier visit (previously unpublished photographs)
The pictures may seem cruel but predators exist in the world as part of the balance of nature and they have to eat. Predators kill and eat other animals. Starvation is the main cause of death for these birds.
A lot of people don’t have much sympathy for the Sparrowhawk because it is cruel. A small bird like this will die quickly as the hawk’s talons pierce it’s body but the hawk will eat larger prey alive. So do a lot of our birds, Blackbirds don’t strangle worms before they eat them but it is a lot easier to feel sorry for a bird than it is a worm. The hawk isn’t being cruel, this is just how it is.
This is a juvenile bird and I believe that it is most probably a male. The bird that I saw on Saturday was a male in it’s adult plumage, possibly the same bird. An adult male is a beautiful and striking bird, It’s back and wings are steel blue and it has orange cheeks, that orange colour sometimes extends down it’s breast. I really wanted to photograph it.
The other thing is…
My bird feeders have remained almost untouched now for five days and I want to know if the hawk that I saw on Saturday has anything to do with that.
At this time of year it is normal for bird feeders to be quiet in the UK, there is an abundance of natural food about but the last time I filled these feeders they were emptied in three days and the change has been sudden.
I decided to watch for the hawk’s return. He can come and go in the space of a minute so to know if he is staying here I have to watch constantly, if I take a half hour break I will learn nothing.
He ate on Saturday morning and so I decided to watch from Saturday afternoon until the same time on Sunday. Twenty four hours in a hawks life.
It was a no show. when he didn’t show up again on Saturday I felt certain that he would be hungry in the morning but… no Sparrowhawk, so we don’t have a problem. That’s a pity…or is it.
Instead of a post about a beautiful bird here is a post about me getting annoyed and getting a bad back.
Play with me.
You don’t look very busy.
This is the garden layout. Take note of the Honeysuckle bush beside the feeder, that is a problem.
I think that the open aspect of the garden has saved us from having any real problems with Sparrowhawks. They are a woodland bird and they like tight spaces where the prey bird will find it’s exit blocked. They also like small town gardens with high fences and lots of shrubbery for the same reason. They are also an ambush predator.
Whine, whine whine.
The first time that I saw the hawk it hid in the bush beside the feeder and it sat there for about twenty minutes before giving up. Every bird in the garden saw it go in and knew it was there. It didn’t get a kill on that visit but next time it changed it’s tactics.
Excuse me there is something outside of my back door.
The next time that the hawk visited it flew openly into the garden, all of the little birds dashed into the honeysuckle bush and the bird perched on top of the feeder.
If an old fellow with misty bifocals can see them from his kitchen then the hawk can see them from half a mile away. It plucked a Sparrow from the bush as easily as you or I would take an apple from a tree (a small tree that we could reach).
The second kill that I saw followed exactly the same pattern. It is so easy for this Hawk that I do not really understand why it has not taken up residence here but it hasn’t.
Don’t scratch my door! Excuse me, I have got to deal with this.
Can’t you do nothing and throw a ball at the same time, or is that what men call multitasking?
Luckily for her I have a soft spot for little animals. 🙂
What a waste of a Sunday…… or was it?