help stopping a sparrow hawk killing feeding birds

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help stopping a sparrow hawk killing feeding birds

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We have between 20 and 50 birds coming to our various feeders every day- fantastic to watch, but this number has attracted a sparrow hawk, who now comes every day to grab its own meal.  This has included chaffinches, gold finches, three kinds of tit, doves.... Infact, basically anything except the wood pigeons I would be happy for it to kill and drag off.  We have now moved the feeders to different parts of the garden, under trees, etc.  The sparrowhawk now just makes a circuit of each area, flying right into the bushes and branches to grab its prey.  Please can anyone advise what we should do? 

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  • I know I'm not being much of a help but do remember sparrowhawks need to eat too. I'd be thrilled if I had one in my garden - they are such handsome birds. Yes, it can be a bit gruesome watching it hunt but that's how nature works.

    IF YOU REALLY don't want it, send it over here!! (no, not really!)

  • Hi gardener

    You seem to have done everything that you possibly can to help your birds, but the sparrowhawk is visiting because you have such a healthy bird population in your area.

    They aren't usually successful every day, and they also have to eat to survive just like all other birds.

    There have been many similar threads on this topic.

    On the main Browse Forums page click on the sparrowhawk Tag to see some of them for more information

  • Hi gardener,i have to agree with what has been said.

    The fact you have the Hawk visit  means you have a healthy supply of birds.They are a gorgeous bird and a compliment to your garden.A lot of us have it visit but not much you can do except enable your birds to get from the feeders into cover as quickly as possible.I watched the Hawk beating against the mature bushes back home but it didn't get anything and gave the birds a fighting chance .That is all you can do.If a bird is taken,do as i do, close your eyes and allow nature to take its course.I really understand how upsetting it is to watch.I would much rather have a bird taken by a Hawk because that is nature, than a domestic cat that doesn't need the food.

  • Hi Gardener, and welcome to the forum.

    What more can I say?  This is nature in the raw, and how things are meant to be. The hawk has to eat, and in spring will have babies to feed.

    Why would you be happy to see a pigeon dragged off and eaten and not a finch? It is also a bird. We can't just feed the pretty ones, and by attracting so many to your garden you are feeding the hawk, which is good.

    My advice is to sit back and try to enjoy seeing such a wonderful bird in action. You are lucky to have the chance. When my resident hawk pays a visit I am delighted. I must say though, mine is not successful that often. His misses far exceed his hits, so maybe you need more cover in your garden to give the little ones a fighting chance?

  • Welcome to the RSPB Community gardener

    What you should do?  Look the other way when the Sparrowhawk calls I guess. I regard Sparrowhawk visits as a bonus as my feeders are sustaining more than one link in the food chain.  When you encourage wildlife into the garden it is almost impossible to be selective about it. You get what nature cares to send you.

    Ask yourself why you are feeding birds in the first place. Are you trying to support wildlife or is it about having garden pets which need to conform to acceptable standards of behaviour to be welcome.

    Sorry - sounds like I'm lecturing. It's great that you're going to the trouble and expense of feeding garden birds.  Try not to worry about Sparrowhawk "shopping trips". Your garden bird community has lived alongside natural predators for millennia and will cope perfectly well with them.

    JBNTS    

  • Sparrow

    Hi Gardener, and welcome to the forum.

    What more can I say?  This is nature in the raw, and how things are meant to be. The hawk has to eat, and in spring will have babies to feed.

    Why would you be happy to see a pigeon dragged off and eaten and not a finch? It is also a bird. We can't just feed the pretty ones, and by attracting so many to your garden you are feeding the hawk, which is good.

    My advice is to sit back and try to enjoy seeing such a wonderful bird in action. You are lucky to have the chance. When my resident hawk pays a visit I am delighted. I must say though, mine is not successful that often. His misses far exceed his hits, so maybe you need more cover in your garden to give the little ones a fighting chance?

    Well said, Sparrow. Great bit of advice.

  • Thank you all for your replies.  Hmmm.   Have learned from this that a/ there is indeed a good reason for my sparrow hawk looking so particularly beautiful (ie it eats alot of these birds... )  and b/ perhaps I could get the bird to begin to like "cat" as part of its diet.  (We also have 8 of those hunters from our neighbours coming regularly....)  If any of you have an idea how to make a bird of prey think cat is actually just an overgrown sparrow, that would be really really helpful.

  • Hi gardner and welcome, one turned up in my garden on tuesday and killed a starling, i was scratching my head last sunday because i only got a few birds in my garden, and thought it was strange but now i know why, he's been about for a bit looking for food so the other birds are on guard.

    When the starlings come now some stay in my oak tree and keep watch and the rest feed. I dont know if my sparrow halk has killed before in my garden but can not wait for him to come back because its an awsome sight to see.

  • Hi gardner and welcome to the community, 

    I can't say much other than echo what the other members have said really.  Its a good sign to have a Sparrowhawk visiting - and if I'm right (sometimes I am) they don't always eat everyday nor are they terribly successful hunters at times.

    If you give your birds the advantage of cover by moving your feeders closer to cover that might hinder the sparrowhawk somewhat - but they will figure out a new route as they're clever birds.  Personally I think your cat problem is much worse than having a sparrowhawk, at least the sparrowhawk needs to kill the birds.  I recommend for the cats make your garden as inaccessible as possible for them - on the regular routes of nextdoor's cat we have plastic trellising on the fence at the top, it can't grip it or get over it so has given up on those routes.

  • Hi Gardener

    A big welcome to the site.

    May I say that I do think the others are right but this ddoes not help with your problem. The only idea I could come up with is to remove all your feeders for a few days. The lack of birds may encourage your Sparrowhawk to move on. Then replace the feeders the birds will soon return.

    Just an idea....

    Robert

  • gardener

    We have between 20 and 50 birds coming to our various feeders every day- fantastic to watch, but this number has attracted a sparrow hawk, who now comes every day to grab its own meal.  This has included chaffinches, gold finches, three kinds of tit, doves.... Infact, basically anything except the wood pigeons I would be happy for it to kill and drag off.  We have now moved the feeders to different parts of the garden, under trees, etc.  The sparrowhawk now just makes a circuit of each area, flying right into the bushes and branches to grab its prey.  Please can anyone advise what we should do? 

    I know exactly how you feel, gardener! I had a male Sparrowhawk appear for the first time in my garden yesterday (well, the first time I have seen him, anyway!) and it gave me the fright of my life because instead of appreciating what a wonderful BOP he is, my first thought went out to the little fellows I feed on a daily basis.

    With that in mind, I've moved my feeding station and put it right in a big bush, which is next to a tree. I have had to do some pruning in order for it to fit but have left plenty of shelter should he come back. As much as I appreciate the Sparrowhawk has to eat, I would prefer it if he didn't do it in my garden (we live in a heavily wooded area so he has plenty of other places to hunt! lol). Good luck with your Sparrowhawk, there seem to be an awful lot of sightings on here just lately.