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Sparrowhawk decimates bird population

  • In reply to Robbo:

    I am grateful for all the replies.  Can I say from the outset, that I do understand nature, I have been feeding birds for 28 years and a former member of the RSPB. Leaving was purely for cost reasons,  I do, or did at the moment, spend about £400 a year on bird bird and so, as the RSPB said "you do your bit for the bird population".

    All, of the hints and suggestions made are already in place and I do still keep all the feeders topped up so "not feeding the birds" is not a reason for their absence.  We did get a very large number of large birds in our neighbourhood - up to 80 pigeons and collared doves when our neighbour put out bulk food. This number has declined since the foodvolume was reduced because of the nuisance being caused.  We also have a large colony (if that is the right word) of jackdaws.

    We had cats for 28 years until recently and they never gave much of a problem. 

    And so you see that nothing has changed in feeding habits and all possible precautions are being taken.

    Do not misunderstand me, I was not condeming the sparrowhak, just relaying the sadness of seeing so many little birds taken and eaten before your very eyes.  Yes, I know they have to eat, but can't they do it a little bit more privately!?

     

     

     

  • In reply to Jan:

    Hi Jan Welcome to the Forums,

    Some people are worried that sparrowhawks eat too many small birds and cause their population to fall or even become extinct. Emotions can cloud the fact that the scientific research points to the contrary. Long-term scientific studies have shown that sparrowhawks have no impact on overall songbird populations. A number of previous studies found that songbirds were no more common when sparrowhawks were absent than when they were numerous.  When pesticides entering the food chain decimated the sparrowhawk population in the 1960s and 70s, songbird numbers remained the same in the hawks' absence. It is also worth remembering that sparrowhawks and songbirds have existed side by side for thousands of years without any detrimental effect on the populations of the songbirds. Food availability and the number of suitable nesting sites naturally restrict the number of sparrowhawks in an area. If songbird numbers increase, sparrowhawk numbers increase. If songbird numbers go down, so do sparrowhawk numbers.

    This species is common in most woodland types in its range and also in more open country with scattered trees, British gardens being a perfect habitat for them. Sparrowhawks prefer to hunt woodland edges, but many birds can be seen in any habitat.

    Sparrowhawks don't specialise in particular species, but take whatever is available and easy to catch. As a result, the most frequently caught birds are numerous and conspicuous, or are sick, old, weak or injured.

    The female takes prey up to wood pigeon size, but the smaller male does not catch anything bigger than the mistle thrush. In summer, about 40% of a sparrowhawk's diet is fledglings.  

    Tom

    Why not check out the news from the wildlife enquiries team?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    In reply to Jan:

    Jan said:

    I am grateful for all the replies.  Can I say from the outset, that I do understand nature, I have been feeding birds for 28 years and a former member of the RSPB. Leaving was purely for cost reasons,  I do, or did at the moment, spend about £400 a year on bird bird and so, as the RSPB said "you do your bit for the bird population".

    All, of the hints and suggestions made are already in place and I do still keep all the feeders topped up so "not feeding the birds" is not a reason for their absence.  We did get a very large number of large birds in our neighbourhood - up to 80 pigeons and collared doves when our neighbour put out bulk food. This number has declined since the foodvolume was reduced because of the nuisance being caused.  We also have a large colony (if that is the right word) of jackdaws.

    We had cats for 28 years until recently and they never gave much of a problem. 

    And so you see that nothing has changed in feeding habits and all possible precautions are being taken.

    Do not misunderstand me, I was not condeming the sparrowhak, just relaying the sadness of seeing so many little birds taken and eaten before your very eyes.  Yes, I know they have to eat, but can't they do it a little bit more privately!?

     

    Hi Jan and everyone

    Just yesterday I witnessed a Sparrowhawk attack in the garden.

    With fewer leaves, it was easier to see what was going on.

     

    Male, I think cos quite small – it appeared over the hedge and scattered the birds into the holly tree. It perched in the maple tree then swooped at the holly tree scattering the birds again. Back onto the hedge then flew straight across the garden and over the other hedge. No victim this time.

     

    Very exciting to watch and no grizzly bits to witness.

     

    My view is that this is natural behaviour and although I am glad I did not witness a kill this time, all birds have to eat to live.

     

    Your situation sounds a puzzle indeed, Jan. I really hope they return as the weather gets colder and they need the food we put out even more.

     

    Best wishes and do let us know if they come back.

     

    Pipit

  • In reply to Jan:

    Jan said:

    I am grateful for all the replies.  Can I say from the outset, that I do understand nature, I have been feeding birds for 28 years and a former member of the RSPB. Leaving was purely for cost reasons,  I do, or did at the moment, spend about £400 a year on bird bird and so, as the RSPB said "you do your bit for the bird population".

    We had cats for 28 years until recently and they never gave much of a problem. 

    Hi Jan,

    RSPB won't make such comments, but the bird population would do better if a fraction of the £400 spent on food went to RSPB membership and the rest went on treating yourself! The 28 years of cat ownership v a few recent months of sparrowhawk related killings debate can be left for another time.

    Cheers.

    Rob

     

     

  • In reply to Robbo:

    It's just nature at work, I don't think it's fair for us to judge really. I took some footage of hunting sparrowhawks a few years back but I can't find it, here's something similar (warning it's a sparrowhawk eating a pigeon): www.youtube.com/watch

  • In reply to Merlin B:

    Hi Merlin,

    You might not have noticed you've replied to a very old post. I can't even remember writing what I wrote!

    Rob

  • In reply to Robbo:

    I'm sorry to report that sparrow hawks have gotten tht numerous there getting hit buy cars they have decimated all of bolsover which has a large nature reserve rspb say a sparrow will feed a femsle sparrow hawk for a day there wrong the RSPB spend to much time fighting game keepers pigeon racing ppl and grouse keepers the thread I read at the top of the page was 10 year ago since then I've seen a sparrow hawk eating a sparrow hawk on a video on social media it's time programs were put in place to give sparrow hawks there own predators eagle owls come to mind or just flying one because as soon as the ppl who breed the feed like game keepers and pigeon flyers stop fof a couple of years they isnt going to be any birds left in England 2 pair of sparrow hawks killed 700 to 1000 British finches in a year just because they were easy to catch were left with no birds in bolsover now time for a new organisation to take over rspb is not fit for purpose and dont deserve any support
  • In reply to Robbo:

    I disagree why do u think birds of prey were hunted for hundreds of years because of the damage they do u wouldn't let a ferret in a hen house anyway to late now giving money to the rspb ain't bringing any birds bk every garden I've been to I see feathers were a sparrow hawk as killed
  • In reply to Tom:

    Are your thoughts the same now or do u not get out and see
  • In reply to Jan:

    Have your birds come back