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Sparrowhawk in garden

Hi all, bit of an open question here - over the past two days a sparrowhawk has taken at least two birds from my garden, should I be taking some action to deter it? It's taken a few birds from the feeders in the past year, but this seems like an escalation!
It's a bit gut-wrenching to see the birds we get so attached to being killed (so far it's taken starlings and house sparrows, and we also get blue and great tits, wood pigeons, collared doves, goldfinches, dunnocks, and robins), but then the sparrowhawks needs food too. Any advice or thoughts would be great :)
  • Hi,
    It almost certainly has escalated recently as young are getting bigger and needing more prey brought back to the nest. Breeding season makes a big difference in terms of predation. More prey usually about at the same time.
    As difficult as it is to see, it is better hawks catch common species you refer to than more rare ones. As an example, house sparrows given the right conditions, can multiply at quite a rate without any predation. Three broods of approx four young in one season, and that is just one adult pair. Not sustainable,
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks Robbo! Sounds like I might just need to suck it up - it is magnificent to see a hawk in the garden, and it does help to think that the prey is probably going to the chicks :)
  • Same story as mine ! But the sparrowhawk is coming everyday in my garden now ! Thankfully miss some prey sometimes... At first I agree it's a superb bird but in my case now, it becomes a bit hard to witness and trying to do something about it ! Someone on my post gave some ideas (maybe not great as in an other hand it can hurt bird?). But in my simple opinion I think that as human being we already modify everything so why not trying to protect a bit more some of the birds... Also I read just now that the sparrowhawk recovered where other small birds population are in decline so the ecosystem is already unbalanced then ?! Anyway I was going to try to put some fencing wiring on some spots to stop it from going through but let the smaller one...
  • Hi Ctatou. I do sympathise but, if it were me, I would be super pleased and honoured to have such a thriving avian community which is sufficiently healthy as to support a natural top predator. Always remember that the avian raptors provide the prey species with an indispensable service in honing their escape reflexes, and other behaviour, thus ensuring that only the healthiest (or 'fittest') individuals survive to breed. In each breeding year there is naturally a high surplus of prey species whose 'function' it is to support their predator populations and, in turn, hone the hunting skills of their next generation. If the former do decline, for whatever reason, then the predators will be the first to notice and will decline in tandem to balance the equation.
    There will always be people who, often for emotive reasons, will try to justify the persecution of avian raptors, and pigeon fanciers and racers, for example, often try to push these agendas for slightly different reasons. In so doing what the latter tend to forget, or ignore, is that - were there no avian raptors then there would be no pigeon racing as the pigeons speed and aerial skills are only the result of generations of natural selection under the watchful eye of the sparrow hawk and peregrine.
  • Hi Paulo, I can send it to you if you want ! I am not against nature at all. However we save our species as human being even the weakest one... I believe at that point the natural balance does not exist anymore. It is a beautiful bird indeed, I believe that ALL youngs are weak if not protected so it's not argument for me to say that the birds will take the weakest as all fledging are, it's a bit down to luck ! Anyway we are encourage to feed the birds because their habitats are destroyed and so on, the rsbp sells a ton of birds food and wildlife food! Is that natural to you?!
    I guess if you start taking care of a living creature anybody ,would get attached, you don't do that to see them killed or it's very insensitive!
  • I agree with nearly all of what Paulo typed. However, I have never been comfortable with either a) the sparrowhawk strike rate and b) survival of the fittest.
    a) sparrowhawk strike rate must include attempts by youngsters or casual pursuits. Not sure how they are measured, but a male hawk hunting for chicks has a far more impressive accuracy rate than is publicised. Nothing wrong with that, and Paulo didn't raise it, but I don't think quoting success rates unrealistically low will sway anyone.
    b) hawks and peregrines (and hobby for that matter) do not just catch sick and injured. It is often speculated that some prey is 'tired after a long migration'. As well as young, which clearly aren't sick or injured, feeding adults clearly aren't sick and injured but are caught. Nothing to do with survival of the fittest in terms of predation. Clearly an injured bird is less likely to survive, but I'd suggest it's more likely to fall foul in UK to a corvid or gull.
  • Re bird feeding, I am against 24x7x365 feeding as it is a) unnecessary in many cases and in most cases does nothing in terms of conservation unless it is species targetted. b) often causes more knock problems for more vulnerable species. e.g. booming great spotted woodpecker population predated willow tit nests, house martin nests etc. blue tits outcompete willow/marsh/coal tit c) provides easy prey and attracts sparrowhawks which then people complain about. Stop feeding birds if you don't want hawks. You are encouraging them. Garden birds will not starve in June unless they are at unsustainable levels. Many bird species do not use feeders and gardens to survive anyway.
  • This is from the rspb : Birds don’t need feeding in summer: False

    In winter, supplementary food is often the only option for birds as natural food sources like berries get buried under snow and ice and insects are few and far between. But in summer birds will still be grateful for extra treats, as many are busy raising their young. The RSPB recommends little and often, and says that birds probably won’t eat quite as much as during the colder months.

    I don't personally am for feeding the birds all the time as I say I planted few different natural food like sunflower, teasel, hawthorn, apple tree, cherry tree etc but why the rspb would encourage so if it's wrong ?
    Also we can read that the only reason why they are not in total decline is because people feed the birds !
    Otherwise sparrowhawk would also be extinct due to not enough little birds ! All of this because WE have destroy a lot of their natural food...
  • In reply to Ctatou:

    If you relied on bird food sales to raise funds, would you then use those funds to prove bird food for 6 months of the year achieves nothing in terms of conservation? No one will pay for research that shows supplementary bird feeding has directly caused greenfinch declines.

    Birds don't need feeding all year. True. As I said, most species don't come near gardens or feeders. Humans are mucking up biodiversity. RSPB needs to explain why they think birds do need feeding as most don't visit gardens or feeders.
  • It's all a question of perception perhaps. I see a lots of birds in my garden and they come even in winter enjoying the apples that I leave at the back of the garden, like a regular fieldfare that arrive early winter fighting then with the blackbirds ! If it is really snowy, I would give them a bit of food yes because I can and that they don't need to starve. But I don't know how we can say that they do better outside because I don't see them ! All what I can see is that since the Sparrowhawk the number decreased and not many young survive...