In early March I wrote about Sparrowhawks and their prey.  I’ve had some interesting  ideas, discussions  from readers and have put all their comments below

Where there is a practical idea and problem solving note I’ve marked it with a tab.

Here they are.  Hope you enjoy reading.  I find it interesting and helpful to learn about other peoples problems and ideas.  It’s also great to know other people are interested and together we are helping (I hope!)  garden birds. 


TopVeg said, on March 10th 2010

I suppose Mehr has a point – but we so enjoy watching the small birds on the birdtable & miss them terribly when the sparrowhawk has visited & cleared them all up.

Perhaps we should do more to help protect the small birds – so that they have more of a chance to escape the hawk. They are just a sitting target when the bird table is in open ground.

  • We planted a willow next to the bird table & it has grown so that it covers one side of the table. So the hawk cannot just swoop down to get them. That has made a big difference. I wonder what else we can do.


Garth said on March 15th, 2010
Feeding garden birds definitely gives these birds an advantage so I feel we should shorten the odds.
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.


Trish said. on March 17th, 2010

Hi Garth, Thanks for joining in. Trying to shorten the odds is a good idea. In some ways I suppose seeing hawks may mean that all is well in nature – but if sparrowhawk numbers keep increasing maybe it could be likened to putting a shark in a garden pond. Or am I exagerrating?

Yes, lets shorten the odds.
Moving feeders around regularly
Dont concentrate the feeders,
note the general line of attack and break up the line of flight.

what a good idea to put vertical bamboo canes a few inches apart

But how do you have individual feeding spots so that an early warning can be given by a solitary feeding bird.

These ideas and conversations are too interesting to be hidden away in a comments area. I will change them into an article and use it a a post

Thank you. Trisha

If anyone would like to write a guest post then be my guest! I will help in any way I can


Shell said,  on March 18th, 2010

We stopped using our bird table because of this. We placed some feeders in thick bushes but the birds prefer to eat from the ground now.

  • There are no cats around so we place the food on ground feeders surrounded by large plants. This has helped a lot.


Trish said, on March 19th, 2010

You’ve stopped using your bird table! I knew two people who were so fed up of blood on their birdtables from sparrowhawks swooping down that they stopped feeding birds. One said itwas horrible trying to scrub off a bird table.

I never thought of the fact that sparrowhawks catch birds in flight. I wonder if they catch any on the ground.

Maybe that is why my garden bush that I put food near is so popular. I get a lot of birds hopping about in and out of this bush and getting the food I put near it. There is a lot of good information here. Trisha


Shell said, on March 19th, 2010

I had not option because the hawk kept lingering around ready to swoop. I was going to use it 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.

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.


Arlene said  on April 1st, 2010

I have large bird table and lots of feeders and have a large number of Goldfinches,Siskins,Bullfinches,Robins Bluetits CoalTits Blackbirds Nuthatch etc that have been feeding in my garden as safely as I can make it given the prevalance of killer cats in the neighbourhood and a sparrowhawk is definitely an unwanted guest in my garden and I chase it when I see it.It only turned up recently and I am hoping it will move on.

  • 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.
    I would buy and put food out for the hawk.mice chicks etc but I think that would not be useful as we started with one squirrel and now I have two of those!

I was torn when it first turned up but I have given it a lot of thought and there is no way I am providing a larder for a predator~ my visitors give myself and husband a lot of pleasure and we go to a lot of trouble and expense to get them through the winter.
This is my decision and I am sticking to it!


Shell said, on April 2nd, 2010,    Hi Arlene,

I understand. If you started feeding the Hawk it would very likely partner with another one and then nest close by and then the family will grow and your garden birds would gradually disappear. Even if they weren’t all caught I expect many would fly knowing there were predators in the area.

I watched on TV about a person who fed bird of preys and would go out on his tractor with a load of raw meat. It attracted many birds, could’ve been around 50 or something like that. One got to know about it, then another and before he knew it there was a large group of them there.


Arlene on April 3rd, 2010

Hi Shell ~
you have hit the nail on the head~ the guy in question feeds Red Kites baby chicks I think?and has been doing so for years~ whilst I applaud his dedication it has obviously skewed the local bird population as perhaps I am doing.

  • I have had to make a decision to try to keep a whole raft of small birds going in my small garden who are having a hard time because of the loss of habitat,food sources and an explosion in the feline population. 
  • The enclosing of the bird table works quitewell as it also limits the number of rooks who visit as there is an extremely large population on the fringe of the wood about 100 yards away, and is worth trying if your bird table is suitable.

I do belong to the RSPB~ Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust etc and hope that thay can promote the welfare of birds of prey in more suitable surroundings!


Trish said,on April 4th, 2010

Thanks for getting in touch. Goldfinches,Siskins,Bullfinches,Robins Bluetits CoalTits Blackbirds Nuthatch – you do get a lot of birds. And the money we spend feeding them is well spent I think.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say you made the garden as safe as you can can make it given the prevalance of killer cats in the neighbourhood and a sparrowhawk

What another brilliant idea about keeping large birds off bird table – mesh on 3 sides and an open side near a window.

When I talk of large birds as well as sparrowhawks I suppose we could include rooks, crows and pigeons, but definitely sparrowhawks. 

  • I have put canes round my bird table – they are stuck in the ground and are higher than the bird table so they make a ‘prison’ of the bird table. Only small birds and blackbirds and thrushes can get through.

If you click on the link below and scroll halfway down the writing you will see a photo of my birdtable. At the moment the canes have blown down – that is a job we have to do today – put them back up again.

I agree with you as well . I have also gone to a lot of trouble and expense to feed garden birds this frozen, cold winter. They were frantic at the feeders sometimes. Heaven knows how much I have spent on bird food. I’d like to buy a camera nest box but always spend any money I have saved on bird food!

Apologies for not replying sooner, but I’ve had a bit of internet connection trouble.

I started a forum but had to stop for a while because of unexpected problems. If anyone  would like to go  my birtablenews forum and then to the link WAYS TO STOP LARGE BIRDS EATING ALL THE BIRD FOOD’ you are welcome – as is anyone to add your point of view. Or start a new topic


PS – Your bird table idea to keep large birds off – I have added it to this article. Hopefully it may help someone in the future


Trish said, on April 4th, 2010

Hi Shell, I do agree. I’m pleased there are other people who agree with me.

Your understanding of the garden /wildlife situation is brill. Of course if a sparrowhawk saw a lot of birds about it would stay and build a nest and breed – and feed on the birds. I had never thought of how a sparrowhawk decides to nest – but of course food will be important.

It is interesting how birds get to know food is about.



Hope you’ve found this interesting and maybe some of the problem solving ideas have helped you.

5 thoughts on “SPARROWHAWKS

  1. Shell

    Thanks Trish,

    I guess I have learned a lot feeding the birds over the years.

    One time I was concerned we had a Sparrowhawk which may have paired off but I think it was just the one in the end which had got very clever.

    Like other birds they do breed, so yes if there are opportunities around for them I guess they would nest near by then eventually there would be a family of hungry birds.


  2. Trish Post author

    Hi Shell, nice to hear from you again.

    Yes, bird feeding is something you learn as you do it.

    At the moment I haven’t seen any sparrowhawks about, but you just never know do you.



  3. Deborah Green

    We have a pair of chaffinches that have started to come to the garden, they are really friendly to the point they tap on our patio windows for attention especially the male. They seem to be attrached to the mealworms we feed the robin. Yesterday the femail chaffinch squeezed her way through a gap in the door and came into the house, is this normal behaviour for chaffinches. They are a beautiful cheerful pair with a lot of character.

  4. Trish Post author

    I think you are really lucky and the chaffinches must really trust you.

    Tapping in your patio window really shows they are intelligent and can think doesn’t it?

    chaffinches squeezing their way into houses is NOT normal chaffinch behaviour. They really must think of your house as part of nature and not be at all afraid of you.

    You’re lucky to have this connection with a wild bird. I have been feeding chaffinches for years and Have never come close to them at all – but I do get loads at the feeders .

    I remember being told once of an old man years ago who lived on his own in a sort of shed in a wood somewhere. Many wild birds would fly into his home and treat it as part of the countryside, but he had lived there for years, but it is the same sort of connection that you have


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