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!
Thanks K for getting in touch. What a problem you have.
It shows how useful thorny bushes are for birds. Planting a hawthorn bush, say , really can save birds lives.
It sounds like is is a parent teaching a child to hunt. I see sparrows teaching young sparrows to feed and come to the feeders. This is how birds survive.
Birds do get used to food being put out at the same time. I have a blackbird that chirps loudly in a morning when I appear. They know seasons,so I suppose they are bound to know time of day.
You could also camouflaged the feeding area with various plants and shrubbery so that it would have a hard job getting to the birds. Or feed birds under bushes
Covered ground feeders are a good way to feed smaller birds. The one I have is really useful and it’s great seeing sparrows and other smaller birds feeding safely inside the mesh covered feeder.
You could also enclose a birdtable – this may help the smaller birds
The trouble is – how to stop hawks getting the larger birds. This is more difficult. Maybe the only way is to hide the food or put canes up. But you can’t put canes up all over the garden!
This begs another question – are there more hawks than there used to be!
Take a look at this website called SONGBIRD SURVIVAL
Let me know how you get on