Sparrow Hawk problem

I live in the countryside in Devon and for the past few years have been feeding birds year round. I have until a few weeks ago had a constant procession of visitors to the feeding station (RSPB Feeder Mix and Nijer Seed). Now there are virtually none, the Greenfinches - gone, Goldfinches - gone, Nut Hatch - gone, Chaffinches from dozens to none, Blue, Coal and Great Tits - virtually gone. There was even a small flock of House Sparrows who have disappeared. Even the Blackbirds and Robins are gone. I now have got a virtually bird free garden. The only regular visitors are Sparrow Hawks. I saw one snatch a tit out of the Squirrel proof feeder. These 2 (a pair?) seem to visit the feeders on a regular schedule and have either scarred away the small birds or have simply eaten the local population.

My question is how do I deter the Predators with out harming them?

It is nice to see Sparrow hawks doing well but I don't want it to be at the expense of the entire local population of small birds and certainly not because of something I have done. My bird feeders are not intended to be a feeding station for Predators.

I have considered moving the feeders to a more sheltered location and/or putting a 2 inch mesh screen around the feeders so birds inside would be safe from predation. As a last resort I could stop feeding until the Sparrow Hawks get the message, but that may mean a winter without food for the few remaining birds, at least until the Sparrow hawk gets them.

Has any one had a similar problem and managed to solve it humanely? Sparrow Hawks are protected birds.

Sensible suggestions please.

Thanks

Derek

 

 

  • Hi Alan,

    My birds did a few months ago also go into hiding when the Sparrow Hawk visited but then it only visited infrequently. Now I can see it up to twice a day and it sits on the feeders waiting. I can't remember having had so few birds around.

    We don't get Starlings here but do on the coast a few miles away huge flock roosts in the reed beds an awesome sight at dusk, but I do see Ravens flying over but the never come down.

    Regards

    Derek

     

  • Hi Derek, I also have sparrowhawks visiting the garden on a daily basis. One is a juvenile and the other an adult. The adult is there four or five times a day. I don't think it takes too many birds because I have constructed a trellis shelter for them and the sprawks cannot get in. As far as trying to deter them goes, I throw large lumps of cheese on to the garage roof and that attracts the crows in fairly large numbers. The crows have no time for the sprawks and see them off as soon as they spot them. I now have quite a few regular corvids and that certainly helps. The only thing is that I have to be home to top up their cheese supply!

    Junior on top of the SBS (Small Bird Sanctuary). He's looking intently but cannot get in.

    This adult sprawk caught an unlucky sparrow as it took a bath.

    Not quite how I envisaged this ground feeder being used, but there you go. Good table manners I suppose!

  • Hi monkeycheese,

    Thanks the mesh cage is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about putting around my feeder. It is good to know that it works. Is the base also covered in mesh or don't sparhawks fly up from below?

    I will now have to get constructing a framework to attach the mesh to and hope that the local population builds up again. I took me two years of regular feeding to build up the number of birds I was getting this last spring/summer. At times I was filling the 2 seed feeders twice a day, now its only about every 10 days which gives some indication of the drop in population.

    I have a huge Rookery about 1/2 a mile away and think that I would be overwhelmed if I started getting them in the garden. I do have Crows in a pair of very tall pines across the field who do visit and eat the discarded/dropped seed on the ground so they may keep the Rooks at bay, but would have to keep feeding them. I frequently see the Crows mobbing Buzzards and so possibly also other raptors.

    Thanks again

    Derek

  • Hi Derek. For the main part of the framework I attached galvanised metal mesh. Homebase sell them in their garden centres they are sturdy and provide protection from cats etc. The largest birds that can get through are starlings.

  • Hi monkeycheese,

    I will have a go at it. I have plenty of low green plastic coated garden fence and some similar mesh that keep rabbits away from the vegies.

    Thanks

    Derek

  • Here's what it looks like from the house. The gate was left open for the purposes of the photo, but you get the idea. The sparrows can feed in total safety.

    Here's someone who is NOT on the guest list. Beautiful bird though.

  • Hi monkeycheese,

    I see a floor to ceiling caged dining room.

    My feeders are on a pole in the garden so will have to devise something slightly different including a more substantial pole to take the weight of the cage around the 4 feeders. I'm on the side of a hill and get some very strong winds.

    Unless I move the feeders up to the house, I need to think this through.

    Wish I had that many sparrows.

    Regards

    Derek

  • Hi Derek, I've stopped using the feeder pole and now I hang all the feeders from the trees or the frame of the SBS. Here's another snap of my spadgers on the lookout for sprawks.

  • I have sparrowhawks around quite regularly unfortunately .However it is nice to get a good photo of such a striking looking bird .I've had then attack birds in my very small garden as I sat outside reading . Twice they have swooped near me to intimidate me !!  I use bamboo as suggested and also the garden eye balloon .I can't say either have worked but they may have helped .I did nylon net off one large hedge with feeders in it .This is a great help to the sparrows .Lately I've lost possible 3 Goldfinches in my garden .I have their feeders of nyger seed on a very large climbing rose .I may use the tip mentioned here about plastic mesh wire to surround these feeders .However I think the presence of the hawk would cause the birds to fly in panic but I may be wrong .I will give it a go .Last resort I have is a catapult but I would only fire a grape of something to scare off the hawk !!

  • Hi Derek my name Peter iv just witnessed a sparrow hawk attack and it killed one of the goldfinch that have been feasting on the sunflower hearts i provided, i was wondering have you had any decent responses from your post i wish to prevent further attacks thinks its been 3 times in this last week took a bird out the cherry tree the other day, don't want it to become regular spot for the  hawk. i was thinking removing feeders altogether for a few week might need be longer. i also believe Buzzards are taking the cats from my area have herd of cats going missing by you