Unwelcome visitor to my garden.

We have a pair of blackbirds that regularly feed in our garden.

This morning I was awoken by the blackbirds alarm cry. Looking out  of the window, I saw him sitting on the fence, screeching. Then I looked down into the garden.

There was a fairly large hawk, surrounded by a mass of black feathers.  The hawk stood over a foot high. It had a light coloured head, brownish back, very bright yellow beak surround and legs and feet. It eventually took off with a small blackbird in its claws.

I would guess the wing span to be about 1.5 metres.

  • Definitely a Sparrowhawk, typical behaviour!


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  • Sounds like typical Sparrowhawk behaviour but at 1.5 metres wing span that is a fairly large hawk. It is quite natural for a Sparrowhawk to hunt garden birds it is just one of those things we have to accept in nature.


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  • Have seen many birds of prey around the fields and woods here, but none as big as this one. When I googled pictures of hawks and falcons, it was identical to a picture of a Red Kite.
  • Most surprised to hear it was a Red Kiite, magnificent bird! ... a regular poster on here gets them in his garden but only feeding on chicken scraps



     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Don't think I am allowed to post a link to a third party site here, but you can look up this site ...lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/british-birds-prey-red-kite.jpg.
    The head colour, beak and feet were the most distinguishing features. This bird took off and headed straight back over the fields towards the trees.
    The blackbird must have been a fledgling chick, as all the mess that I had to clear up was small, fluffy black feathers, along with a few small wing or tail feathers.
  • I too am surprised it was a Red Kite. Even if they could catch a Blackbird on the ground they are normally snatch and go merchants. To hang around plucking a bird is not typical behaviour in my experience.



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  • In reply to ajmitch51:

    If this is a clever way to advertise lovethegarden.com I have to say I had to stop reading that site as it was littered with inaccuracies and errors. The photo of the red kite is labelled correctly, but some of the size comparisons (which I'll refer to shortly) are nonsense, and to sum the site up, it states regarding marsh harriers, "you will probably only spot them in regions in the east like Lancashire". Claptrap both in bird terms and geography.

    Re the prey, only adult male blackbirds are black (unless you have visits from coots or moorhens). The prey is therefore an adult male, and possibly the mate of the bird that woke you up.

    Size is notorously difficult to gauge. It is especially so after the event, and also if you'd just been woken up.

    Re i.d. you clearly stated in your original post about "bright yellow......legs and feet". Red kite legs......show me which photos are showing you obvious bright yellow legs.

    IMO, the others are right with sparrowhawk i.d.
  • Sorry, no advertising intended. I had googled for haw and harrier photos to try and identify the bird. The one that quoted on that site, was the closest match to what I saw. I'm no birder, so I may well be mistaken, but this bird was far bigger than a kestrel that I see regularly.
  • Female Sparrowhawks can be pretty big, very unlikely to be a Red Kite.
  • Having thought a bit more, starling feathers may appear black, and sparrowhawks catch plenty of them. Could be the victim if you are lucky enough to get starlings there.....