Sparrowhawks continued

Getting different views through  comments like the one below is oneof the reasons I keep birdtablenews going. 
In reply to an article  I wrote about sparrowhawks Thomas replied –
(If you want to read the article CLICK HERE)
I don’t think you can ever blame natural predators for doing what they do naturally. Songbird numbers have declined because of changes in our farming and living practices (lack of food and nest sites) and probably due to ever increasing numbers of cat ownership (there is stong evidence cat predation takes millions of songbirds each year), none of these are natural controls in this country.

Its always a very easy route to blame a natural predator, because then we don’t have to make changes to our lives. Many natural wild predators do not have predators themselves, but the fact of the matter is that what keeps them in check is numbers of its prey items. If a predator out eats its food source, it will then either starve or just breed less and then its food source should recover.

Don’t forget that sparrowhawks and song thrushes have been continually existing alongside each other far longer than we have been around and should we disappear they would continue to do so


I replied

Thank you getting in touch and writing this.  In a lot of ways I do agree with you.  Yet I still think that the RSPB are too much ‘on the side of’ birds of prey.  Not necessarily sparrowhawks, but birds of prey in general. 

I agree with you about the lack of food and nest sites. That is why I am putting together a bird friendly plant list.

I have  a category about cats – cats kill birds.  I don’t understand how cat owners can let this happen.

Yes sparrowhawks and thrushes may have existed alongside each other before we were around, BUT the thrushes would not have had to put up with domestic cats, lack of food and nest sites that are making reducing their numbers today.

Thanks once again.  As I said at the beginning getting different views and getting comments like this is one reason I keep birdtablenews going.  Cheers.  Trisha

4 thoughts on “Sparrowhawks continued

  1. Shell

    This is very interesting. All I know is that from first hand experience I have watched a Sparrowhawk hunt birds aggressively. By that I mean I have seen a SH stay in the trees for most part of the day, day after day. It had got so used to us going in the garden that it didn’t deter it and it would perch and watch near by.

    We don’t have cats around here so usually the garden is a safe haven for the birds, apart from the SH.

    Due to the decline in certain species, I think it is important for the household to provide garden birds with an appropriate diet, especially in the winter time. I am certain the majority of birds would have died this winter if we had not put out a lot of nourishing food because the snow was so deep they had no where to search for a natural resource, plus there was not many insects around, if any.

    I think the songbird has a hard enough time nesting and upbringing that they need all the help they can get to carry on their existence.

  2. Trish Post author

    Hi Shell, I know a lot of people who have seen sparrowhawks hunt birds aggressively. I have never been as near a sparrowhawk as you have. I have caught sight of them in my garden and I know there are more around.

    I also think it’s important to feed garden birds. I also feel that a lot of birds that came to my garden this winter would have died if I hadn’t put food out for them. I’m not sure it is the best way for birds to survive – having to depend on us humans, but it is working at the moment.

    I know someone who has a large hedge in his garden with many birds nesting. A sparrowhawk came and decimated the birdlife in the hedge. A group called Songbird Survival are looking into how to help songbirds and to try and research the reasons for their decline. For they some are declining.
    Interesting to read your ideas and hear what you have seen and done.

    I think the songbird has a hard enough time nesting and upbringing that they need all the help they can get to carry on their existence.

  3. Shell

    Hi Trish,

    I think the birds mainly depend on the food we put out in the winter, as you well know when it gets warmer they try to catch more insects if they can.

    After this year’s really harsh weather when the days have been a little warmer and insects have been around, I have found the birds not eating as much as they did but I also noticed that many Starlings have flown with just a small group left, so this could be a reason too for not having to put out as much as I did.

    Yes, the Sparrowhawk is very clever. We have been very close with it perched on the wall. They have very sharp features and eyes.

    I usually know if there is a predator about as the birds start a warning call. Swallows are good at warning too.


  4. Trish Post author

    Hi Shell, you certainly know a lot about birds.

    There have been a few insectcs in our garden over the last few days – the starlings in our garden haven’t flown. they are still taking over things.

    It’s funny how some birds are agressive and some are not. I can’t see a thrush being agressive yet the starlings certainly have agression in their nature. they both seem to survive though don’t they.

    The other week The Husband told me that there was a sparrowhawk in the garden on a fence. He said the garden was as silent as the grave. Usually we have some bird movement or birdsong nearby. So this time a ‘communal’ warning must have been sent and every bird flew away. This must prove that birds have some senses we don’t understand. The sense that a preditor is about, the ability to let other birds know and the sense to fly away! thanks for getting in touch again.

    You can learn a lot by watching birds about can’t you.

    May I ask if you live in England, Scotland or Wales

    Best Trisha

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