Daily Archives: January 28, 2009

Sparrowhawk with its talons round a blackbird

A few minutes ago I was just going to walk through the gate when I heard a ‘squealing’, a rush of wings and also branches moving

Then, actually at my feet, landed a sparrowhawk with its talons round a blackbird.   I was so shocked to see the death throes of a blackbird just where I was standing.

I had never been so close to a sparrowhawk.  I was looking down on it and at the blackbird that was caught up in the Sparrowhawk’s  talons.

The blackbird was ‘squealing, struggling’ and trying to get away but there was no chance. 

The sparrowhawk  did not have it’s  it’s wings outstretched and had the blackbird  ‘pinned’ to the ground with it’s talons round the blackbird. 


Sparrowhawk - a bird of prey

Sparrowhawk - a bird of prey

I did not take the photograph of the sparrowhawk 

Blackbird – a garden bird


I moved slightly and  the sparrowhawk suddenly let go of the blackbird.  It flew upwards and into the hedge – it must just have seen me.  

I think up until then the sparrowhawk was oblivious to me.

The blackbird, leaving behind a lot of feathers, ran and hopped into the base of the hedge and disappeared.

I shouted and shook the hedge, trying to frighten the sparrowhawk away. Then I realised I might frighten the blackbird out into the open, making it easy prey for the sparrowhawk.

The hedge was a laurel hedge.  A laurel hedge will not keep out  sparrowhawks because it does not have thorns to keep the sparrowhawk out.  Sparrowhawks cannot take the chance of damaging their feathers on thorns so they never go into bramble bushes etc .

There was nothing I could do.  For a moment I became involved with  nature and wildlife which we don’t seem to have any control over. 

What else goes on in my garden that I’m not aware of.  Who does the garden belong to – me or the birds.

Bird Friendly Garden Corner

I’m putting together a Bird Friendly Plant list – with help from other people.

I’ve found some  plants that can be planted now if the ground is not frozen solid.  Here is some information about two of the plants.

A Blackberry or bramble bush
If you plant a bramble bush some of the bird that will eat the fruit are

  • Starlings,
  • bullfinches,
  • great tits and
  • blue tits. 

Some of the birds that will nest safely in the prickly branches are

  • Blackbirds
  • warblers
  • thrushes
  • long tailed tits
  • finches
  • dunnocks

FIRETHORN – evergreen shrub

If you plant a Firethorn shrub some of the birds that will eat the fruit are –

  • blackcap
  • waxwing

Some of the birds that will nest in the fire thorn are

  • blackbird
  • song thrush

Also, the flowers of the Firethorn attract insects, which in turn attract birds.

So this is the start of my Bird Friendly Plant list!

I’m sure a lot of us will be planting something in 2009.  Whatever we plant be it  flowers, grasses, bushes, trees, plants, shrubs we could buy those that can provide food or shelter for our garden birds.

Any offers of knowledge or help welcome

Blackbird in USA with white tail feathers

In December I was lucky enough to get this comment from the USA about a  black bird that had some white tail feathers.  

We have a blackbird with several white tail feathers visiting our feeder here in NJ today.  Regards Nelson

I emailed Nelson back to make sure NJ stood for New Jersey.  The reply was

NJ does stand for New Jersey. Today’s sighting is ther first time we’ve seen this particular bird with the the white tail feathers.

I think it’s interesting that white feathered blackbirds span the globe.

I’m interested in the blackbird I see so I decided  to have a category for my white tailed blackbird so I can keep tabs on when I see him.

I have not seen either of our blackbirds that have some white tail feathers for a few weeks.

I get about ten blackbirds a day now!  I think it’s because I put cheese out.  They are sometimes like a small flock flitting round.

The thrushes are always in the background as well.