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.


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  2. andrew kennedy

    All advice on how to keep the sparrow hawk entering our garden and attacking my fantail doves welcolm!!!! Andrew

  3. K Tyson

    I came in last night to find a juvenile sparrowhawk finishing off a collared dove in my back garden. Five minutes later, an adult sparrowhawk had reduced my regular tree sparrows to hiding in a thorny bush in the front garden. I have to say that I knocked on the window to scare it away as I felt responsible for the dove’s demise.

    Unfortunately, again tonight I saw the feathers remnant of a kill at the front of my house and I discovered another, barely alive pigeon on the ground outside my front gate. Obviously the subject of another attack. When I went back out again to see if the pigeon was still there 5 minutes later, it had gone. So in two days, one dove and two pigeons have been killed.

    I think I shall have to feed my birds in the morning only as I tend to feed about 7.30am and 4.30 – 5pm every night at the front and back of my garden. There is an abundance of wood pigeons, collared doves, tree and house sparrows and other varieties of birds. I am realising that this is really like the ‘serengeti’ for the sparrowhawks as I have encouraged the birds to come at this time to eat the seeds. I also read that if you put the seed in various feeding places rather then in one area at the front/back garden, this might help and also break the ‘hawks line of sight with bamboo canes etc. whilst allowing the feeding birds a clear line of sight.

    I also read on the RSPB that the ‘hawks tend to be later risers so I am just going to feed them in the morning now and discourage them in the late afternoon when they are so preoccupied with feeding and easy targets for the ‘hawks. I think it must be mother and daughter sparrowhawks as they are taking the larger birds (could be wrong?) and it looked like the mother was teaching the juvenile how to find food, which is why I might have had the two pigeons go simultaneously tonight.

    It was a bit eerie though that they have ‘cottoned’ on to the time that I feed the birds. Probably more that there are just so many birds coming (at least 40 sparrows. 10 pigeons and 8 collared doves).

    I will let you know how it goes!

  4. sharon

    I hope you get some good suggestions, as I am having exactly the same problem, and having seen these doves grow from young (even tell them apart thanks to various markings etc) I would really prefer that they did not get eaten, especially where we can see it happening. I know it’s nature but it is very disturbing! Thanks.

  5. carmel

    We have a sparrowhawk at the moment. he feeds at anytime of day from dawn till dusk. I am trying canes at the moment, there are all around the feed stations and crossing the garden in what i have observe to be his flight paths. One site suggested guard n eye balloons tinfoil cd or noisey beads I have not tried these as they will probably keep all the birds away.

  6. George Turner

    I have to contradict the suggestion that they will not fly into prickly hedges.
    I have just witnessed a further strike in our sparrow “sanctuary” cottoneaster type prickly tree.
    That is the second in a week. Goodness knows how many happen unwitnessed.
    Last year there were upwards of 30 sparrows, young and adult, at any time. Now, we are lucky to see more than 6 or 7.
    How to stop attacks in roost areas is my main concern.
    The hawk just blasts in unnerved by any deterrent I have tried, even us sitting within 8 feet of attacks.
    He/she was harassed by a wood pigeon just now, but too late to save the female sparrow. She screamed a bit but to no avail.
    We are devastated, having built up the population over the last 16 years.
    There are often no signs of sparrows at all, hardly suprising, but we miss them so much.

  7. Trish Post author

    That is interesting. I’ve always thought (and been told) that they do not fly into prickly hedges as they dare not – in case they catch any feathers. Which would make it impossible for them to fly and catch prey.
    It must be devastating for you.

    Songbird Survival are researching and trying to save songbirds with science. http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/

    Take a look as you may want to join them. I think there are more sparrowhawks than there used to be.

  8. Ashley

    I’m hunting for ways to stop these attacks also. I’ve read all your posts here and I’m feeling a bit deflated, but will not rest until I find the right solution!

    I’ll try not to bore you all – Yesterday I opened my patio door for the cat to go out and straight away a greenfinch landed on the ground, fluffed it’s feathers-up and went to sleep. Needless to say I shut the door and kept the cat in. I watched the bird a while and it was very happy. A young one. It woke up a little bit later and had a swim, a drink and some food and then left. Today it came back. It was happily drinking from the bird bath. A big bird swooped in. Immediately I thought it was a clumsy wood pigeon. Of course it turned out to be a sparrowhawk and as far as I can tell it got the young bird. The young one was so dopey it would be very unlikely to have got away. Such a waste of a happy little soul.

    Like a previous said about the number of birds they used to have – we used to have 50+ tree sparrows every day, feeding, bathing and drinking. Amongst others like the tits and finches. Now we’re lucky to 10 of any variety.

    I’m wondering if I just stop encouraging the birds to come to our garden for a while and stop feeding them …

  9. Bill Martindale

    Hi, I also have the sparrowhawk problem in a medium sized garden in chorley lancs. I was congratulating myself that we had only lost one bird(sparrow) this year until we lost three more in the last week or so. My problem is that I have a flock of 40 odd sparrows and another of 20 odd goldfinches. Along with a few tits that makes for a noisy garden and inevitably attracts the sparrowhawk. For a number of years I have used plastic garden mesh, 50mm hole size, on trellis’ around the feeders. Have seen the hawks splat themselves a couple of times on this. I also use a circle of the mesh around the feeder, hung from an inverted metal hanging basket.Until now this has worked a treat and I have witnessed numerous unsucessful attacks, in one case four in a couple of hours. My feeders are near to thorny cover. However I am considering building a large cage of plastic mesh in the bushes at the back of the border and putting the feeders inside it. At least then the birds wont be caught napping. I havnt tried canes but it seems a good idea. As does spreading the feeders out. Any good ideas anybody esle has I would love to know. Regards billm

  10. Bev

    Just witnessed a young sparrow hawk yet again attacking our birds on the feeders on a pole. He wasn’t successful this time he does always fly in screeching his head off and that seems to alert the birds before he can get them, but I don’t know how long this will last. The parent female sparrow hawk is close by too so its like a double problem. So far we have canes around the feeder pole, a balloon with eyes on, and my husband as even increased the over hang on the bird table to make life even more difficult for the hawks. We also have a kestrel in the wooded area behind our garden but he doesn’t seem to bother with the garden so far! At dusk out comes the tawny owl and he’s a joy to watch after the voles etc. I can so sympathise with everyone on this sight who has written about the same problem. We live in a wooded area of yorkshire and always have a huge amount of different birds, but am also concerned they will stop coming in the usual way. Have put food also under cover of shrubs too. I must say the hawk deterrent balloons did seem to help up to today! The ones we have are three different colours-black ,yellow and a white one all with eyes on.It suggests they are alternated every three weeks but today was only 14 days with the black one hung on a pole so have now put the white one up and in 14 days will try the yellow one. We bought them of ebay as they seemed a good idea to try. Will let you know how effective they are….

  11. Ashley

    I would be interested to know if people that read this thread are suffering more than usual with hawks. It seems mine have driven away the large majority of my birds … or eaten them. We’re now lucky to see up to 5. Mostly just 1 or 2 if they are feeling brave. Yesterday, I happened to look out the window from upstairs while getting ready for the day and witnessed another attack. Then I always wonder how many attacks I am not seeing …

    If people are reading this for information, please take 2 minutes to add your view.

  12. Bev

    Hi, yes I am sure there are more sparrow hawk attacks than a few years ago. The husband of a friend of ours works on a country estate and says they have a large problem with sparrow hawks due to the fact (he thinks)that they are now protected by law. He says the sparrow hawk population is getting out of hand as there are far too many pairs with offspring killing garden birds and even young pheasants and ducks. He also has a problem in his own garden with hawks and says he feels that if they carry on breeding at this rate ,many garden birds such as thrushes and bullfinches will be wiped out in many areas. I know that sparrow hawks have to live too but its heartbreaking for many us who love garden birds, to witness such attacks. Also it does make me wonder how many more times attacks happen un witnessed by us! I have not seen it come on the garden today and hope the white balloon will deter it for a while. The birds seem ok with it , a bit wary at first as the colour of the balloon had dramatically changed from black to white, but happily eating today! The wood pigeon is a bit cautious but did eventually decide to come for food earlier this evening! Sorry to waffle on a bit but I like many people on this sight are deeply concerned in the dramatic rise of the sparrow hawk population and the sad decline of the song and garden bird population compared to a few years ago!Just a final word my uncle kept racing pigeons for many years but lost quite a few to hawk attacks in the air he says having witnessed at least three over his garden. So it seems even racing birds aren’t immune from attacks. He eventually stopped breeding them as it seemed the sparrow hawk had an eye for the most expensive ones! Any how I will let anybody interested know how effective the three different colour hawk eye balloons actually are in the next few weeks …

  13. Ashley

    Now you mention it – as well as the 60+ small birds feeding, we had 3 wood pigeons, 4 collared doves, 2 black birds, 4+ magpies, 2 wood peckers … all gone.

    It’s like a ghost town out there.

  14. Bev

    Hope some of your birds do return as its such a shame. There doesn’t appear to be many woodpeckers etc around at the moment or thrushes and less bullfinches etc around ,only a few juveniles with almost all their adult plumage. There is quite a lot of food available in the woods, hedges etc for them at the moment so hopefully numbers will increase for you in the later part of this month. Of course then comes the problem of increased sparrow hawk attacks so we can’t win. So far not seen either hawk this morning it does usually appear around 10o’clock and 3o’clock in the afternoon when I am around to see it. Goodness knows how many other times in the day it attacks. All we can do is carry on trying to deter it in the various ways we are all trying at the moment. My neighbour came round with 4, ten foot garden canes for me earlier, so will go and strategically place them with everything else later on. Theres not much more I can do other than stop bird feeding which I don’t want to as the birds need food to keep healthy in the winter months and have come to rely on us.Hopefully the hawk might get the message after it has so many obstacles to avoid and go else where – It has stared visiting a neighbour further along the lane !!!

  15. Trish Post author

    Hi Ashley, I think a lot of people are suffering from Hawks.

    I know what you mean when you say there must be attacks that we cannot see. I agree when you say if people are reading this for information, please take 2 minutes to add your view.

    Song Bird Survival is a group of people who are researching and looking into song bird numbers and how much damage predators do. Why not take a look at their website.

    The problem is that so much is out of our control when it comes to wild life


  16. Lizzy

    I had my first encounter with a SH this morning. I looked out the window and saw a blackbird on my childrens trampoline which has a net. I thought it strange that it didnt fly up and out but then noticed a SH flying at the net and then going under the trampoline and flying up at the blackbird. I ran outside as fast as I could. The blackbird looked stressed and tired and the SH didn’t seem bothered that I was there at all. I tried to shu away the SH and help the blackbird escape but sadly knew the chance of him escaping was slim. The SH continued to dive at the bird on the trampoline inches from my head and he was not concerned about me being there at all. Eveltually the black bird escaped the trampoline only to be pusued by the SH. They were both out of sight in our neighbours garden but I’m sure the blackbird didn’t stand a chance! The smaller birds around us have enough problems with m.pies let alone adding a SH to their troubles. I felt totally helpless and am worried this may only be the beginning of our new visiter who has no fear of us humans!

  17. Ena.

    I live in urban area of a town in Ireland. Have gloried in all the different variety of birds that have been coming to my small garden – plenty of shrubs and thorny trees – and a bank of trees in the garden backing on to mine. Bird song has been wonderful until about three days ago – the birds including two doves did not come for their food either evening or morning. My garden is silent – I saw a sparrow hawk on at least three occasions and I now think the little birds and doves are gone into hiding. I miss them – they were such a joy – including the blackbird and the robin. I hope the hawk goes away again.

  18. jo

    Have just been searching the internet to find what to do about sparrowhawks in the garden and found your site. I have again witnessed a sparrowhawk kill a dunnock on the patio outside the window. I am in a town, and yet have lost 3 collared doves, two dunnocks and one blue tit to my certain knowledge. How many are killed when we don’t see them? We had lots of birds throughout the spring and summer, but my garden is now silent. For years we have built up our sparrow flock, but now we have about 5. The situation is so distressing, but I will try some of the valuable hints that people have posted.

  19. Gary Fletcher

    Hi all.
    I’ve just started to be harassed by sparrowhawks! Well my pigeons have, luckily i’ve not lost any. My birds which are only this years, climbed high above the hawk,who craftily tried to circle above them. On two occasions, i’ve witnessed either seagulls or crows harass the hawk! And on one occasion a hawk chased a pigeon `out of sight, luckily it returned sometime later. Here’s some ideas on how to keep hawks away from your birdtables. Encourage crows to your garden or house roof, these birds will take on both male and females. Another way which a fellow pigeon keeper uses, is to position a large plastic eagle owl on a fence or another suitable place overlooking the birdtable. These birds feed on hawks! At first the others that use the garden will be wary, they soon get use to their plastic guardian. This guy also has a large mirror appro 14×24 inches, which he uses to dazzle the hawks as they harass his birds while they’re flying. Hope these tips have been helpful. One more thing, check the RPRA website, I believe there’s a petition about hawks, these birds are destroying hundreds of racing pigeons worth a small fortune, while leaving feral ones alone!

  20. Julie

    I’ve tried the plastic Eagleowl and it seemed to work but only for a week or two. The Sparrowhawk came back again. Will try the mirror.

  21. Trish Post author

    Gary, Thank you for your tips. It’s so good that readers can help each other.
    Julie, where did you get the plastic Eagleowl from.
    Let us know how you get on with the mirror

    How annoying that the plastic Eagleowl didn’t last longer.

  22. Trish Post author

    Here are Gary’s tips
    From Gary –
    Here’s some ideas on how to keep hawks away from your birdtables.
    Encourage crows to your garden or house roof, these birds will take on both male and females.
    Another way which a fellow pigeon keeper uses, is to position a large plastic eagle owl on a fence or another suitable place overlooking the birdtable. These birds feed on hawks! At first the others that use the garden will be wary, they soon get use to their plastic guardian.

    This guy also has a large mirror appro 14×24 inches, which he uses to dazzle the hawks as they harass his birds while they’re flying.

    Hope these tips have been helpful. One more thing, check the RPRA website, I believe there’s a petition about hawks, these birds are destroying hundreds of racing pigeons worth a small fortune, while leaving feral ones alone!

  23. Trish Post author

    I’m so pleased we can help each other in this way.

    Gary, I have just realised that maybe the reason I don’t get many sparrowharks in the garden is because we have crows nearby and also a rookery – a very noisy rookery

    I know sparrowhawks are in the countryside around us but very rarely see them at the bird table.

    I often see crows and rooks circling overhead – never thought until now that they were keeping sparrowhawks away. Thank you


  24. jayne

    i.ve seen my first sparrow hawk in my garden today ,as i ,ve had the same small birds coming to feed for quite a while i,ve got to recognise them individually ,and i was distresed to see the hawk hunt and take my smallest blue tit ,i am thinking of removing all my bird feeders from my garden as i am scared to look out of my window incase i see it again as i,ve some one legged and injured birds that come , i even ran out to frighten it off and i could,nt believe that it just looked at me and carried on ,does this mean that it will keep coming back because i would,nt like to be responsible for these beautiful little creatures deaths,does anyone know,thank you

  25. chuckymamma

    I’m having a bit of a problem with the SH, we have a large for tree in the garden that a pair of collared doves have successfully nested in for the past few years. Their chicks hatched last week and they were promptly attacked by a SH. My dog scared the hawk away but it was too late for the young. Later the same day the sh came back and took the dead young bird. Now every evening the SH comes back to the doves nest to ambush the adults. Is there any way that I can protect the doves and the other little birds from this monster. It no longer seems scared by the dig or us.

  26. Peter Simmons

    If you have a hawk in your garden, be grateful and privileged! They are in decline largely due to gamekeepers on shooting estates killing them, despite it being illegal. The other day I watched a Marsh Harrier eating a wood pigeon and was both fascinated and pleased. I hope it comes back regularly as the pigeon problem here [North Norfolk] is horrendous, and everyone growing vegetables has to erect cages to protect their crops or the pigeons destroy them. Too few are being killed these days – partly due to raptor numbers falling and partly to too many townies moving to the country and only eating from the supermarket. Country folk shoot them whenever possible, and the breasts are much the same as chicker – the rest can be disposed of for foxes to find. If you are seeking a solution to garden bird decline, look no further than the domestic cat, responsible for tens of millions of deaths of wild birds every year, and eating not one of them. If you have a cat, put a bell on it so the birds get some warning. It’s nature, if you don’t like it, live in a box.

  27. Paula

    I’m being absolutely plagued by Sparrowhawks this year. I see a lot of remarks about “the hunting prowess” of these birds (on other websites), but as far as I’m concerned they’re very sly … mainly targetting the most vulnerable birds such as newly-fledged blackbirds and starlings. I’ve also noticed them described as “noisey” birds, but the ones carrying out attacks in my garden are best described as “silent but deadly”! I feed the birds on a regular basis and have been doing so for several years, but it’s only this year that I’ve seen Sparrowhawks repeatedly visiting the garden, so I would say that their population is definitely increasing. The situation now is so upsetting that I did reconsidered the idea of putting any food out at all … however, with our weather being particularly dreadful, and the resultant scarcity of ‘natural’ food for foraging birds, I feel compelled to continue to give them a helping hand. Like others here I’ve started putting the food under bushes etc where the feeding birds aren’t as visible from the air. I also intend to plant a hawthorn tree … whilst taking on board the debate about whether or not a S/H would fly into a thorned bush, I think perhaps the close setting of the branches/twigs of the hawthorn might allow small birds access to the ‘interior’ part of the tree whilst deterring the much larger S/Hs from entering(?) Anyway, I’m hoping it will offer them some sort of ‘safe haven’ where they can’t be pursued.

  28. Annie

    Please remember that even a Hawthorn tree has to be flown into and out of a waiting hungry SH sees everything.
    I too am devestated by them and apart from not feeding the wee birds and enjoying their antics I am at a total loss.

  29. graham

    Hi, Ive noticed that sparrow hawks now occupy much more closer bouderies now,a nest in close proximity to another nest, may be only half a mile in some locations.This is a clear example of over crowding in hot spots. Our regular passive birds will always suffer through raptor over kill. I think that its time for
    some new ledgistlation . Thanks.

  30. Irene

    Hi, I’ve had a sparrow hawk problem in my garden since last September. It used to come just occasionally to start with now it’s all day every day and there are now two of them. I have a large sparrow population plus several collared doves, some blackbirds, the occasional tit and robin. There is a rookery nearby and many jackdaws but these are no deterrant. My feeders are now placed by the hedge so the small birds can quickly dive for cover. I also have ground feeders under the hedge surrounded by netting. I’ve tried guard n eyes, they worked for a while but are no longer effective. I feed my birds all year round and know I’ve created the problem by attracting so many sparrows and their many broods stay near this reliable and expensive food source. Should I stop feeding them for a while, I don’t know. I have planted a hawthorn hedge but that will take a while to get established. I will try to spread the feeders about a bit . But there are not many suitable sites in my garden. I know I should accept the SHs as part of nature but feel that I am responsible for protecting the sparrows as I encouraged them in the first place. What a dilemma!!!

  31. graham

    There is excessive numbers of birds of prey now,in most areas of the British isles.Braught about by a conservation act in the early eighties,Unfotunatly Sparrow hawks are the biggest condenders,with excessive numbers of breeding pairs.Many town and urban gardens have been desimated of our common birds.I understand there is a growing interest in dropping the protection status on this group of birds of prey…DEFRA ,08459 33 55 77.

  32. Lainey Lou Lou

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve just moved into a new house (in Leyland, Lancs) with a large overgrown garden and have been really happy to see a good range of birds feeding including wood pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, blue tits and even a nut hatch. A rabbit comes and feeds in the garden most days, a joy to watch from the kitchen window. I’ve been observing with interest a baby wood pigeon learning to fly over the last few days and was shocked to see a hawk (I’m guessing it was a sparrowhawk, or possibly a kestrel) come down and sit in the garden while the adult wood pigeon had a go at it. It was only when the sparrowhawk flew off that I could see it had something in it’s talons – it looked like a blackbird, but would the wood pigeon have attacked it if it was a blackbird? I’m guessing it was trying to protect it’s baby. Oh, how awful!! The previous owner had loads of thorny bushes everywhere which we’ve cut down due to having a one year old son who’ll be grubbing about everywhere soon no doubt, and we just thought the old guy must have been a security freak, but maybe he was defending the place against sparrowhawks….

  33. Paula

    What can I do to attract crows to the garden? This year (unlike previous years) I’ve had regular visits from several jackdaws who eat the seed from the woodpigeon’s/collared dove’s feeding station; but I haven’t seen any crows yet.

  34. Sally

    I heard a big bang on my glass front door and yet nothing was there. I ran upstairs, thinking maybe my cat had fallen out the window. He was standing on hind legs looking down at the quiet road and there I saw a bird, not much bigger than a pigeon, wings outstretched guarding the collared dove. I stayed inside, and realized it was a bird of prey..anyway, I went to get camera-never seen anything like this before-and she had gone when I came back, moments later-I looked out the window and he was flying down the road with the bird. I have worked out she is a sparrowhawk, and brown speckled so female? This is in the centre of town. We have a lot of collared doves, and they nest each spring behind my satellite dish. Am wondering now how long this sparrowhawk has been around. I live in the centre of town, so was flabbergasted!

  35. morag

    I live on a large country estate and have a large population of tits visiting my feeders.After 38 years here I now have a predatory hawk picking them off.Yesterday the cock pheasant who comes in the late afternoon to collect the spillage off the ground reared up at the hawk and scared it away.I have surrounded my feeder with a wire cage open at the top but saw the hawk swerving out of the top.not sure whether it went in or changed its mind half way. I am determined to protect my tits,finches blackbirds and robins, however woodpeckers have been known to drill into great tit nests and kill the babies. this behaviour can decimate the great tit populations too. we are in a no win situation and as humans we should be able to outwit the hawks without deciding life and death for species.It is too much meddling that has upset the balance of nature in the first place. Yours, sitting on the fence!

  36. Trish Post author

    Hello Morag

    You could close the top of the wire cage off a little – make the opening smaller.

    You could use a ground caged bird feeder and put the food inside there.

    It’s really difficult, because the garden birds could get picked off when they are flying towards the feeders.

    I know someone who bought a large balloon and put it in the garden (it was especially for frightening off sparrowhawks). I will put a picture on Bird Table News for you (next week)

    I don’t know if you’ve read all the other comments but Grahame said that this will always happen until there is more legislation (he means to control the sparrowhawk population)



    Also, one reader said if you put canes zigazzing in the garden it stops the hawk’s line of flight – but I’ve never tried that.

  37. morag

    My hawk has given up and gone for easier prey elsewhere.My husband surrounded the tall feeder with chicken wire in a circle.The small birds can get through the holes and eat in peace while the blackbirds etc go underneath or in from the top as it is wide enough. Now the hawk can`t get them unaware and they have a fighting chance while flying to and fro instead of being picked off the fat balls! Actually the hawk hasn`t been seen for a couple of weeks.success and thanks to my husband.

  38. Sara

    I have to admit … I detest sparrowhawks! The way they eat the poor prey while it is still alive, I see no beauty in these birds and I adore all nature! Humans are to blame for the huge increase in numbers, of course, but it is getting out of hand. They do not need to be on any ‘endangered’ lists as they are abundant everywhere these days … unlike songbirds. The population of songbirds around the area where we live, like most places in the U.K, has declined rapidly, yet the numbers of sparrowhawks is on the increase, we see/hear them daily. The ‘intelligent’ way of thinking, according to the rspb etc, is that prey/predator numbers are in synchronicity, and that as prey drops, so do the numbers of predators … except for the fact, with these particular raptors in our area, they have a fondness for rodents too. Many times I have watched them in the hedge, waiting, and there are so few birds now, that they very lazily catch mice and rats instead, carrying them to a nearby fence to eat. While some may think this is good news, the problem here is the SH will adapt its diet accordingly … so, when there are no longer any songbirds, the sparrowhawks will be fine, they will eat rodents instead! It will be too late for our songbirds, and those who seemingly feel the need to still protect SH will eventually see sense, but it will be way too late, as usual … It is incredibly sad. There needs to be a mass cull of sparrowhawks, or a reduction by removing some eggs (I realise Magpies and crows take young birds, but they do not prey on breeding adults) I have witnessed several breeding birds taken by them, Blackcaps, Blackbirds, Blue tits, Sparrows. The list goes on. As well as the daily onslaught at birds who used our feeders over the years. I moved the feeding zones regularly, but still was providing a daily smorgasbord for these raptors. I rarely feed songbirds now, as there are so few anyway. Yet, I still see/hear the SH every day in neighbours’ gardens, mainly eating rodents!

  39. Linda

    7.30am this morning screeching out side my backdoor and there is a sparrow hawl with a male blackbird, seconds earlier I think I could have saved the little might. I know that they have to eat and feed their young but when you have looked after these birds through the winter, it heartbreaking to lose one….this is the first time I have seen one in the garden, now I assume it will not be the last!

  40. Diana Thomas


  41. Trish Post author

    Linda, sorry you had this happen in your garden. I know what you mean when you say it’s sad when we have looked after these birds through the winter, and that is what we do – we look after garden birds and help them and, while we’re looking after them we do get fond of them. You could look at a website called Songbird Survival. It is trying to help songbirds

  42. Tara

    We live in open farmland hlaf a mile from any neighbours; plenty of hedges but few trees, and we feed a wide range of small birds plus collared doves, an occasional woodpecker and a couple of wood pigeons. The sparrowhawk takes some but the sparrows and dunnocks breed prolifically and the hawk has a huge hunting ground. Yesterday she took a swallow off the nest, which involved flying through the open top half of a stable door and then negotiating her way to the back of the adjoining store room where the swallows nest is built attached to a roof joist. She had already taken a swallow off the same nest two weeks ago; this new swallow had laid one egg so far, presumably the previous day, so the sparrowhawk had clearly been keeping her eye on the comings and goings and knew that there was a sitting bird. We have tried a ‘Hawkeyes’ scarer and have seen the hawk sitting virtually on top of it. At our last house we had success with the GuardnEyes balloon, keeping a sparrowhawk off our tippler doves, so will try this again. Was disappointed to hear that the eagle owl scarer only worked for a week or two, and will not bother, or maybe the owl scarer needs to be moved around every few days? And will maybe try, if we get another sitting swallow, hanging some horticultural fleece from the joists to hinder the hawk’s access.

  43. Joanne

    I’m really not a fan at the moment of the sparrow hawk 🙁 I live in a semi rural area and have an amazing amount of birds visit my garden . This year I have had a tame Black bird eating worms out of my hand and flying towards me when I step out into the back garden waiting for me to feed him raisins so he could then feed his babies back at the nest . To my delight a week ago my Blackbird bought his three babies to the garden and they would also come to me for raisins . The sad end to this is all because of the sparrow hawk. After feeding them for so long I got used to the call and sound of the blackbird and felt sick when I could hear them screaming as the hawk came to kill the babies 🙁 My faithful Blackbird and his babies have all gone thanks to the hawk . I wish I could of saved them . Everyday I am chasing away this hawk, but it still continues to come and i’ve witness many deaths because of it . So sad

  44. David

    I agree with many of the comments on here suggesting the huge rise in Sparrowhawk numbers needs to be controlled.
    A few years ago my local Sparrow population was very sparse. I was thrilled that especially at the beginning of this year my bird table was now very lively with them. Sadly the numbers are dropping again and I have not seen a single robin for over a week now.
    Of course the Sparrowhawk is back and today I witnessed it pursue a Sparrow into a dense hawthorn hedge that is only yards from my table. Sadly he emerged with his kill so another bird less for my garden.
    I too have read comments from groups like the RSPB saying how great it is to see a Sparrowhawk and its all about natures balance and man must not interfere.
    I take the opposite view. We/Man have directly influenced our wild life when we gave up being pure hunter gatherers and started reshaping the countryside. With this logic I see no harm in using humane methods in controlling Sparrowhawks.
    No doubt Sparrowhawk problems vary from area to area but they are devastating in ‘ my part ‘. Each to his own but the so called beauty of this bird of prey means nothing to me now. As far as I am concerned its my no1 pest bringing only death and silence to my garden.
    I think the law needs to be changed by removing the protection this bird enjoys. It is getting to the point where I may have to introduce my own’ garden law ‘ before its too late !

  45. bev

    Hi Trish Sorry its been a while but at last ive managed to catch up with bird table news again. As you know we have too had a major problem with sparrowhawks for a few years now. in our rural garden and reading the latest readers comments and problems made me realise that the sparrow hawk population seems to be increasing still. From our point of view I would like to pass on the following info for any one interested; so far this year (the first time for 3 years)we have not had the same amount of visits and attacks from a number of hawks. I can honestly say its been wonderful to see the huge amount of fledglings successfully reared by the following, Bull finches 6, spotted woodpecker 5 sparrows 23 at least,Starlings 30+,blackbirds15+,goldfinches 8,siskins Song Thrush 2,great tits and blue tits too many to count plus dunnocks 4 robins and 4 coal tit fledglings. Why i am writing this is because last last year at this time it was a totally different story. Lots of our birds were picked off one by one by a sparrowhawk family of 4!!!I have mentioned the problems in my previous posts.What have we done? Well the following has happened
    1-we surrounded our feeder pole with 2″X4″ wire mesh.
    2-we also put it under and intertwined
    in a lot of shrubs as the hawks were powering in after the birds before. This size mesh means the blackbirds,thrushes and starling size birds can also escape into cover as well as the small ones . The hawks hate it and i have witness the female particularly flapping to try and get in to no avail.
    3-Ground feeder cages and feeder cages in general have helped a lot too and feeding the birds close to cover.
    4We tried the owl deterrent and balloon deterrents but to no avail.
    5Wellalso another the thing thats happened is really amazing. There are 2 buzzards that have taken up residence in our area close to where the hawks nested. Also would you believe we also have seen 1 red kite !!!My neighbours saw it a couple of times lately too as i thought i had imagined it!! Along with the jackdaws, crows and the swallows (they are back and mobbed the hawk last year) I hope the sparrowhawks have been driven away to a new area as we havent seen them or heard them calling at all for a few months now-touch wood! It really was very distressing Trish as you know from my comments in the past to see the garden birds being killed.I believe that the combination of the wire etc defences in our garden and the arrival of buzzards in the area is helping to keep the hawks away. The buzzards don’t appear to come after the garden birds hopefully voles etc but my friend is a vet and lives nearby. He says the sparrow hawk in his opinion looks upon the buzzards and kite as a predator to them so has either moved on or been predidated on by them.Whatever way we are so happy to see life in the garden in great numbers again.
    What I would say is the wire mesh 2″x4″ (sorry I still work in inches) has literally in our opinion been a life saver for our birds so if people with the same problems as we had want to try it I suggest they look on ebay as its so much cheaper a roll than from
    garden centres and DIY outlets. Our hawks had no fear of me at all and it really was distressing to loose our birds daily! One time last year we had 4 adult song thrushes each one picked off by the hawks.As song thrushes are on the red list I find the RSBP attitude to hawks being protected shocking!
    Anyway I hope this helps some of the people with the same problems we had because it really is so sad to see the birds killed off in our own gardens.
    Only time will tell how long it lasts but for now we are making the most of the abundance of bird life once again in the garden and I hope other readers are finding the same. Of course we cant invite certain species to take up residence when we want them to but for all the people that agree with the life style of the sparrow hawk I am sure there are many like myself that say about the jackdaws swallows, buzzards etc mobbing the hawks. Thats nature too!!!
    Good luck and we will keep you posted and look forward to seeing other people ideas on dealing with this problem.
    kind regards Bev.

  46. Trish Post author


    Really pleased you’ve been in touch with this information. It’s good to hear from you and hear about your brilliant idea of the wire mesh ‘fencing’

    I’ve put an article on Birt Table News about it and, as you say, I hope it will help other people. You’ve had a terrible time in your garden, and I’m really pleased you didn’t give up feeding the birds, but you found a solution where garden birds can ‘hide in safety’ from sparrowhawks.

    It’s bird eating bird again isn’t it? The sparrowhawks eats the garden birds and then perhaps the sparrowhawk has been eaten by another bird. Our garden birds have a lot of problems don’t they – finding enough to eat, predators, and in winter they have sub zero temperatures, short daylight hours, snow, – I could go on!

    Good to hear from you. I’ve put some bird food out already and the feeders are alive with birds. Time for a cup of tea now.

    Best wishes

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