We live in the semi detached suburbia of South Manchester so I was quite suprised to witness a sparrow hawk take an adult pidgeon in the back garden this morning. I can only assume tha the sparrow hawk must have been quite hungry or upset by all the rainy and windy weather to come this far for breakfast.
Hi Lowey welcome to the community from Sheffield
It will have been a female Sparrowhawk they are larger than males.
Quite a few of us that feed the birds get them, as you say with the bad weather she could be hunting farther than normal.
This is a fairly common event in gardens all over the country where birds gather in numbers. Many of us on these forums see them, and some people see them regularly. It can be distressing, but brilliant to watch. Such magnificent birds!
Hi Lowey and welcome from me in Berkshire
As the others have said, Sparrowhawks are common visitors to gardens especially if you feed birds. You don't have to live in the country, they visit urban gardens as well.
Incidentally, I noticed you posted to Big Garden Birdwatch. There's a Community Forum which goes on all year round if you want to check it out.
Thanks TeeJay - nice site map there in Community Forum thanks
Glad you found the forum map useful, Lowey. Not too many people are aware of it.
The largest prey I've personally seen a Sparrowhawk take is a Starling as you can see below. But females, which this is, are easily capable of taking pigeons. The saying "the female of the species is more deadly than the male" is very true with this species.
Hi Lowey, a warm welcome to here from me in Staffordshire. I have a Sparrowhawk that visits, I think it's a male but I'm not sure as usually it flies through the garden so fast that I can't make it out. T'other day it stalled just for a few seconds and I could actually see it properly, it's very beautiful, a lot of us who feed the birds have them visit.
Thanks for a warm welcome from you all. I actually took some HD video after the hawk started breakfast I will post it if you like so that you can see / sex the sparrow hawk. It is not for the faint hearted !
Hi lowey you have to upload any videos to youtube first
Is that really what passes for entertainment around here? REALLY? The thought that someone would sit and video something like that absolutely sickens me to the soul.
Err not entertainment as such no. I don't know much about birds (yet) but to me this was a rare and unusual event (which by all accounts it is not). Video was an instant thought to actually identify the bird, age sex etc.
BTW I have not shared or posted the video.
Sorry lowey it was my fault for suggesting it i've got photos of males and females ( without a kill) that i can post when i get back so you can compare
This is a male which is smaller than a female.
and this the female, with it being larger is probably the bird you had.
That second bird's a juvenile... sexing juveniles is not easy but to me it looks dainty and small-billed enough to be a male. The pattern of vertical arrowheads rather than barring on the chest say juvenile, also the quite rich brown colour (adult females are greyer, not really far off the grey of adult males). I had a hard time finding a pic of an adult female that wasn't on prey, so this comes with a gore warning: http://www.mull-bed-and-breakfast.co.uk/im/sparrowHawk-01.jpg. And this is always useful: http://www.ibercajalav.net/img/118_SparrowhawkAnisus.pdf
Blimey don't go anywhere Aiki i'll post another then..i might not have any females lol.