I’ve received such good ideas from two readers  – and here they are

From Garth –  

If there are too many attacks try –

  • moving the feeders around, regularly
  • if possible, don’t concentrate the feeders,
  • note the general line of attack and break up the line of flight. I have put in vertical bamboo canes a few inches apart and
  • also have individual feeding spots so that an early warning can be given by a solitary feeding bird.

The worst time of the year is when all the young tits are feeding and the hawks have young too, so this is when tactics are important to reduce carnage before your eyes.

I love to see a hawk and it is also a good sign things are right in the bird world as a lack of them means there are problems.


From Shell –

We stopped using our bird table because of sparrowhawks. We placed some feeders in thick bushes but the birds prefer to eat from the ground now. I had not option because the hawk kept lingering around ready to swoop. I was going to use the birdtable  again but I thought it may attract the hawk again.

I think they can snatch birds off the ground and that’s why I’ve

  • camouflaged the area with various plants and shrubbery so that it would have a hard job getting to the birds. The hawk seems to have gone now that I have done that, I am still wary though.
  • I’ve fed birds under the bushes too, especially when it’s really windy which they seem to appreciate.
  • There are no cats around so we place the food on ground feeders surrounded by large plants. This has helped a lot.

I would love to put the table back up but the hawk used to wait in the trees and if it happens to fly over it will see them hanging around the table.

From  Arlene –  April 2010

My bird table has a roof and has been enclosed by my husband on three sides by the largest plastic mesh I  could find~ the open side nearest the lounge window.

It took  awhile for them to get used to it but they hop through as though it wasn’t there now.
All the little birds hop through the mesh or through the side bits under the roof and the bigger birds such as Blackbirds come round the back.

This is from Mehr in Sweden and her views are the exact opposite – but things must be different in different countries.  In some ways what she says is true – but I think sparrowhawks do get an unfair advantage when they visit bird tables and gardens.  They can cause so much carnage and a lot of our bird numbers are declining.  You just have to visit the RSPB site to see that. 
From Mehr
  • if you want to worry about something, dont worry about how life and nature does, it has always done it long before we were here, worry about what your living is doing to the environment and extinction of species allover the planet, SH for exemple 30 years ago……….in nature animals only kill for living, we are killing, to extinction, just for lyxius living. let natur be alone if you can not love all of it….
Please let me know if you try any of these ideas, if you have problems with birds of prey in your garden or if you have any advice, thoughts or opinions.  Thanks.


  1. Susan

    Having just posted a comment about our Sparrowhawk problem,i have just been down into the garden,telling my husband about the mesh idea,and what just lands on the shed roof not 4 feet away from us but the Sparrowhawk!!!!
    The problem that we have though is its a communal garden directly outside,but then we have a gate in the hedge into our allotment. So no matter how we try to protect the birds that we feed, it will no doubt still come to another feeder thats further down from ours.It seems a no win situation,but one that is also getting out of hand! I am sick of going to sit in our garden/allotment and seeing the remnants of another bird on the grass.Please can someone give us some advice on keeping it away from our poor birds.?

  2. g powell

    the only way to stop sparrow hawk predation , is shoot them,too many of them and too many guttless law abiding people. Screw the law!! Wake up before it”s too late, and shoot them!! End of problem !! Just don”t get caught by the airy fairy no nothing greeny do gooders!!

  3. Terry

    In the shortspace of a fortnight, I have gone down from 16 fantail doves to 5 (two more were eaten by a hawk(s) again this afternoon) and although this is an annual battle, I find the past 2 yrs have been more intense for attacks than ever before! We were only saying this morning that every year we get a visit from two racing pigeons that stop over and stay with our doves for a couple days before going on their merry way, we havent seen them for a year now either! I have tried everything, but Im going to take my 5 remaining doves and take them out of their dovecote, and Im going to place them in large cages in the stable for safe keeping (until I can figure what to do next for them) there are two females that have laid eggs now and their male partners have since been picked off by the hawk(s) so they are going to have to raise their young alone! I watched a tv programme a few weeks back with Lord Bath (the owner of Longleat house), and he quipped that his gamekeepers routinely shot hawks on sight.. I bet that didnt go down well with the do gooders! I know that shooting them is not the answer (I have a gun and have been tempted myself), but Im afraid if DEFRA or the other organisations dont do something (like they have with foxes and badgers) then I should think we are going to find people taking drastic action against what I consider these pests!…

  4. Trish Post author

    I do understand your anguish and anger. We were just talking about sparrowhawks last night . Sparrowhaws are killing so many birds here as well. I don’t know if it’s because more people used to shoot them and keep them under control. A friend said she saw a sparrowhawk swoop onto her birdtable and take a black bird. It’s the nesting season now so it will hit the wild birds hard if one is killed.
    I wish you luck with your plan but you shouldn’t have to do this sort of thing. There are too many sparrowhaws. It’s good that you are wanting to take time to move them, and at least they will be safe. It’s lucky you have a way to save your birds, so many people can’t do anything.
    Let us know how you come on and if the doves manage to raise their young
    There is a website called SONGBIRD SURVIVAL if you want to take a look

  5. morag

    We had surrounded our bird table with netting wire which did work very well. Then I saw my bluetits being decimated so I shortened the odds and moved my bird table closer to the rhododendron bushes where the wee birds live. The sparrow hawk has further to fly and they have much less distance to fly to safety.Hawk has moved on. If you can see where it sits before pouncing it helps a bit.:)

  6. kathy kirkman

    Been chasing off a sparrowhawk for the past couple of weeks. I have stopped feeding my little flock of sparrows, they have been decimated. I have also lost two beautiful collared doves who have visited my garden for a few years. The SH swooped over a visiting small shitzu dog yesterday. I was shocked to see that.

  7. Kevin

    I was prompted to see what I can do about hawk attacks on my doves and saw this site. I am feeling quite upset right now having seen the 10th of my Doves (one with a name and charachter) killed. I reall do not know what to do. At this rate I will have none left within the next month. It is so sad “crash helmet” he had a black head ! had just built a nest for the first time and had paired up. I feel like getting a gun…..

  8. Kevin

    I was prompted to see what I can do about hawk attacks on my doves and saw this site. I am feeling quite upset right now having seen the 10th of my Doves (one with a name and charachter) killed. I really do not know what to do. At this rate I will have none left within the next month. It is so sad “crash helmet” he had a black head ! had just built a nest for the first time and had paired up. I feel like getting a gun…..

  9. Gary Fletcher

    Been a while since I first posted anything about BOP’s(birds of prey). And like me this problem hasn’t gone away. I don’t want to use this site as a soapbox, to bemoan the bop issues. There is a website you might like to look at and get involved? It’s called raptor alliance, they are trying to get some sort of legislation bought in. I must stress this is a racing pigeon based site. They have online petition and a section telling where perregrins are known to be nesting. I’m constantly trying to upgrade the defences against attacks! My latest gimmick is using a wireless Bluetooth speaker and sending crow calls through it, from my smart phone. This is fine if your in the vicinity. Another, is sending an European eagle owl call through it. We don’t have this owl in the country generally, but these wonderful birds will feed on sparrow hawks! My friend has found this system semi efficient. A wooden cross, that is free spinning and at the end of each arm, he’s placed some cheap blank cd’s from local pound shop. His is about 2ft across and 4ft across! The smaller is on top a shed, the other in middle of his lawn. He’s quite happy with the results. Hope this has been helpful? This is my favorite subject. Our garden birds and much loved pets are in danger from these ariel pests. I could go on forever about this subject, but I’ll not bore you all. My old dad, believes that the widespread use of genetically modified crops are to blame. With no pest feeding on the wheat and barley, birds have migrated to the cities looking for food, thus having their hunters follow them! Bye for now and good luck with stopping the bop.

  10. Lee Brindley

    I find it very sad reading most of the comments above. Sparrowhawks are a natural part of our ecosystem and have every right to hunt and feed themselves. They have lived in a natural balance with their prey for thousands of years without wiping them out. We should look to other (modern) causes for the decline in songbird populations such as pesticides, cats, habitat destruction.

    Do not forget that the birds visiting your feeders are wild – they are not your pets or property. They are part of a natural foodchain and part of their role in life is to provide a food source for other life forms (predators). By attemping to save the lives of birds by preventing raptor predation we may in fact be responsible for the death of other birds (hawks) by stopping them from feeding. Now there’s a conundrum!

  11. kathy kirkman

    I bought a plastic owl & place it near the feeder & hedges where the birds congregate. It has worked. I stopped feeding the birds for about two weeks put the owl in place & I have now seen lots of sparrows & young back in the garden.

  12. kathy kirkman

    The sparrowhawk is back with a vengeance! I have a small 9wk old puppy & am too scared to leave it in the garden on it’s own. So I will stop feeding the birds until it goes again. A friend’s kitten was taken from her garden, not far from here recently. Also small chickens were nearly taken, the owner’s spaniel saw it off.

  13. Vic Weston

    Sparrowhawk visits to my small urban garden in the West Midlands used to be few and far between, but the sparrowhawk visits have now increased to such a huge extent that the usual amount of wild bird food I put out is not being eaten at the end of any particular day. Rats are on the increase (there are way more rats than people now) and these disease-riddled rodents are being attracted into gardens by night to feast on any leftover bird food.
    I keep decreasing the amount of food I put out for the birds but, thanks to sparrowhawk attacks, the little birds are visiting my garden less and less often for fear of being lanced by hawk talons and eaten alive.
    I used to be a member of the RSPB but unsubscribed when I realised that the preservation of hawks is more important to them than the livelihood of the beautiful little birds that frequent our gardens and give us all so much pleasure. I’m sick of seeing plucked feathers plastered all over my garden and have taken a dislike to all manner of hawks. OK, RSPB, sort this carnage out, NOW!

  14. Jules jones

    I agree with most said above, I too have cd,s hanging from every tree and mirrors around to deter these killers. Sick to back teeth of finding carcasses on the grass from theses pests. I do agree there is more in abundance than there is songbirds. Yet again the law is an ass. If there is any petitions I will sign them all to even out the population against the ones they are killing.

  15. Jules jones

    Please let me know if you know of any petitions to sign on the protection of these birds and to help the song birds getting slaughtered daily

  16. Ali

    I think I found a victim of a sparrow hawk today in my back garden. It was a black bird which had been decapitated (no sign of head) … I was distressed and went on line to investigate what could have done this (no feathers or mess nearby) and after one hour I looked out the back windows only to see that the remaining corpse of the bird had disappeared. It was a fresh kill and I understand sparrow hawks would come back for the rest if it is fresh … is that right? I do not put any bird feed out eg; to avoid vermin … but I do have a very bushy and verdant garden and I always have a lot of blue tits and blackbirds in particular. The do love the birdbath .. so they do come to wash/cool off … I hope I do not find any more of these poor victims!

  17. Trish Post author

    Hello Ali, thanks for getting in touch. You have seen what goes on in Wild Britain. You don’t put food out but the sparrowhawks are still coming to your garden. Sparrowhawks swoop and kill anywhere in the country side. I have put together some notes about sparrowhawks. A lot of the information will not be any good to you as you do not put bird food out. i thought i would let you know.

  18. Tracey

    I had a large Sparrowhawk in my garden last year and wondered if a baby is now visiting, I dont know too much about them so have come to this site to try and see what I can learn. I heard a bird screeching and when I looked out the window a bigger bird had a baby starling on its back, I tried to scare the bird away and it flew off, but with the baby starling in its feet. It flew to the end of my garden where a pigeon intervened, the bird then flew off and then thankfully so did the baby bird. Now Im not 100% sure that this was a sparrowhawk, but from my experience last year and the fact that it was able to grab this baby and fly off makes me think it was.
    I have quite a big square open garden, could this be why the sparrowhawks are coming in? If so then maybe I should try the balloons that people are talking about

  19. Michael Garfield

    It would help if people didn’t try to look on the Sparrow hawk as evil vs good. If songbirds are in decline and sparrow hawk numbers are increasing then the problem lies elsewhere. There was no problem in years gone by, and it’s about time people started looking to the detrimental effect that humans have on their habitat, population growth being just one of the problems. There was a balance struck between the various species – not just birds but all animals. If the scales have been tipped then look to human-kind’s intervention.

    P.S. And please stop being soppy about nature – i.e. that the Sparrow Hawk is a nasty, evil predator who mercilessly kills lovely tweeting songbirds. Remember, songbirds also prey on other living things. I think you’ll find it’s called nature – something on which I think you’ll find that we have had the most detrimental effect.

  20. Paula Greaves

    Michael Garfield – you can rest assured that we’re all very aware of the detrimental impact that humans are having/will continue to have, upon nature.

    Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal that the few of us who subscribe to this blog can do to halt the worldwide population explosion – but good luck to you, if it’s something that you’re working on!

    There’s really no need for you to be so patronising! Obviously we are aware that certain songbirds prey on invertebrates … however, some of us like to have songbirds visiting our gardens, and hence we are looking for ways to deter a particular bird that predates them.
    (Incidentally, I’ve used humane traps to prevent rats from raiding songbird nests in my garden … perhaps you regard that as too much human involvement in natural processes too?)

  21. Tanya Hitchcock

    The sparrow hawk is the greatest threat to our flock of white garden doves. Since I first starting keeping doves in 2008 I have witnessed countless attacks on my birds by the ‘hawk and although some have survived with complete recovery or scars, the majority have been killed, and usually eaten alive. It is devastating to witness and there have been times when I have felt irresponsible for keeping the flock going, when most of them are destined to be predated soon after fledging, or of living in constant fear of attack. Occasionally the ‘hawk seems to be hunting elsewhere and the doves begin to enjoy life again, using their bath and sitting preening on the roof of their aviary. I know of no deterrent to the sparrow hawk, although have found the terror eyes balloons to be effective in keeping the buzzards away (another predator). If anyone reading this keeps garden doves in a dovecote and is having problems with predators, I would recommend keeping them in an aviary instead. This is how I reduced the attacks, although sadly have not eliminated them. The aviary has 2 flight holes that enable the birds to go in and out freely. It is also possible to close the flight holes during times of increased attacks. The protective environment also allows the squabs to leave the nest and be fed on the ground safely by their parents, without risk from cats or other predators.
    The prevalence of sparrow hawks, where I live anyway, (West Berkshire) is due to the purposeful breeding of pheasants for shooting and the abundance of food for birds of prey when the pheasant chicks hatch.
    I have seen no sparrows in this part of Berkshire, in fact I have read that they are in general decline throughout the UK, not only due to loss of habitat but because their numbers have been drastically reduced by the hunting sparrow hawk.

  22. Pingback: The sparrow hawk is the greatest threat to our flock of white garden doves | Bird Table News

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  24. Toby

    I have an old BSA air rifle which I load with BB shot, this knocks a sparrowhawk over but does not kill because it does not penetrate, they fly away looking very sorry for themselves and they don’t come back.

  25. keith

    I have a large sparrow population and a few blackbirds in my garden which i feed every day. it is a pleasure to see them feed their newly arrived young. when putting my daughters bike on the back of the car a blackbird landed on the tyre and wouldnt go till i fed it, so tame. another blackbird comes with out a tail every day (a lucky escape from a cat or an hawk) and a cock sparrow used to be very tame, unfortunately he was taken in a flash.
    i have a sparrow hawk that visits regularly
    i see from blogs that the hawks miss as much as they dont. I must have a special one because it never misses.
    have seen it take birds drinking from the bird bath in the centre of the tree, take them when feeding on the lawn at the back of the house and was watching the sparrows in the bush from my front window, 2 feet away when one effortessly flew down grabbed a sparrow and flew off withiout a pause.
    and they are just the ones i have seen which are frequent and effortless.
    I know they all have to live but is sole destroying seeing the birds you know get taking especially when they have young to feed.

  26. Pete

    These people who advocate leaving nature to take its course, and sparrow -hawks to go on slaughtering the song birds in their gardens, are nothing but armchair philosophers. They’ve never fed a garden bird in their lives. There is only one answer to a situation where birds of prey are out of control, and it’s to shoot them. There’s quite simply an imbalance. Yes, we need to know why, but that’s a long term investigation.
    But there’s another aspect to this . . . organisations like the RSPB, which wouldn’t countenance culling, get most of their income from the garden bird loving public. So until those donors raise their voices about the decimation by hawks, nothing will change. Also, what about cats, which are estimated to kill 50m garden birds a year? Cats need to be licensed, and the quicker the better. £25 a year fee, obligatory name collars, and destroy the ferals. That might make as much difference as culling a few thousand sparrow Hawks.

  27. Trish Post author

    Thank you for these in depth comments. I know a lot of people have this problem. I am trying to make my feeders so that only smaller birds can get in to feed and larger birds cannot enter. BUT this only keeps them safe while they are feeding. It does not stop the carnage.
    I will put them as posts on my blog within the next few weeks.

  28. laura

    I am seriously concerned regarding many of the comments regarding culling sparrow hawks, I have many feeders which are carefully placed to avoid red kites and sparrow hawks being able to land, birds of prey need to feed, its not just about pretty songbirds its about supporting all wild birds, I understand it can be upsetting perhaps look at how humans kill thousand of migrating songbirds each year in Cyprus and Malta instead if trying to change the natural order and more importantly you are committing a criminal offence if you kill birds of prey.

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