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Sparrowhawk deterrents

Sparrowhawk in flight

Image: Graham Catley

A sparrowhawk in the garden can be an exciting occurrence. To see one of these beautiful birds so close and witness its hunting prowess is a treat, but to see one taking one of the small birds you have attracted into your garden can understandably invoke mixed emotions. 

Many people enjoy being able to add the sparrowhawk to their list of garden visitors, but others are not so sure. Try to take the view that having a sparrowhawk visiting your garden is a good thing - the presence of such a top predator indicates that the bird population in your area is doing well. 

Even though sparrowhawks feed almost exclusively on small birds, they do not affect their overall numbers. Songbirds produce far more young every year than would be needed to maintain the population.

All these extra birds will die of starvation, disease or predation before the following breeding season and there would not be enough territories or food for so many. Sparrowhawks simply prey on those birds that would have died anyway.

Deterrents

If you feel you must deter the sparrowhawk, there are a few deterrents available, although their effectiveness is dependent on the availability of alternative feeding sites for the hawk. Rather than deter them, try to learn to admire the skill and beauty of this very specialised hunter.

  • Bamboo canes on lawn to turn fast approach route into an obstacle course
  • Half-full plastic bottles or CDs hung up in trees to scare the predators away.
  • If feeders are under an overhang (eg under tree branches) hang strings like bead curtain strands a few inches apart around the perimeter of the overhang to slow down the hawk
  • The GuardnEyes scarecrow balloon works by introducing, what the hawk believes to be, a higher level of predation, so that it in turn feels stalked. If alternative feeding areas exist, the hawk may be encouraged to move elsewhere