Daily Archives: February 9, 2009

Blood on bird tables

One of my birding pals told me of two families who, last year,  stopped putting bird food out for birds because it was distressing to see sparrowhawks attacking and killing sparrows every time bird food was put out in the garden.

The two families live in the city of York.

Susan lives in a house  with a large  back garden which is on a busy road.  It seems she has put bird food on the bird table for years and got a lot of sparrows feeding at the bird tables.  She saw sparrowhawks attacking sparrows but put it to the back of her mind.  She thought that was how nature operated.

The last straw was when she had to start cleaning and scrubbing the blood off bird table every day.  She said it was a sickening job.

As soon as she put bird food out the sparrows arrived.

As soon as the sparrows arrived the sparrowhawk arrived and the rest was carnage.

She has stopped feeding the birds.  She truly feels it is not worth it.  She feels the food she puts out is bait and she is luring sparrows to their death.

The second lady lives on the other side of the city and used to put cut apples on her lawn.  Again it is the sparrowhawks who visit.  She has watched sparrowhawks dive on birds eating the apple.

An apple a day does not keep the sparrowhawk away.

It does seem as though it has been a vicious circle.

  • Food is put out for the sparrows.
  • Sparrowkawk learns where the sparrows visit
  • The sparrowhawk watcher from cover for prey
  • The sparrowhawk flies soft, low and silently to catch, kill and eat it’s unsuspecting prey.

What would have been the answer?  Maybe there isn’t one.  Maybe they did the right thing when they stopped putting bird food out.

Here is a short video of a sparrowhawk in our garden.  It is eating a pigeon.

Birds Need Water

It’s been snowing again during the night.  The covering of snow looks lovely, but isn’t!  It’s cold, slippery and windy.

I brought some of the bird feeders in last night which is good as they are snow free and dry.

I’ve just realised how frozen the garden pond and the small water dish is.  I’d been so busy putting bird food out I’d forgotten they need water.

I’ve boiled the ketter and will de-ice the small water bowl I keep for the birds.

I sometimes put a few stones in the bottom of the dish, it gives birds something to grip on.

By chance I’ve seen some cat footprints in the snow.  So we must have a cat roaming about on an evening.  The footprints headed into our large laurel hedge, which is a pity because I know birds roost there.

I put some bird food out just as daylight was breaking.  The countryside really did look lovely.  I’ve already had blackbirds and thrushes at the feeders.

I’m starting to get starlings in largish numbers and I’ve this morning I’ve seen a rook hovering.

Will go and top the feeders and the water up now.

We all take water for granted, turn on a tap or buy some bottled water, but I’ve just seen blackbirds and other birds standing on the ice on the pond trying to get water.  There is one water dish near the pond and one near the feeders.

It will soon be my breakfast time!

Have a good day.