BLACKBIRD SCREAMING FOR ITS LIFE

Bev has been having a problem with sparrow hawks in her garden.  She is trying her best to get rid of them and has never experienced such a bold sparrow hawk in all her years of feeding.  Any new ideas for getting rid of sparrow hawks are welcome.

Hi Trish, here’s an update on our sparrow hawk problem!

Well whats happening is unbelievable to us! Yes, the hawk is staying away most of the time from the top of our garden and we have encouraged a lot of jackdaws and jays up there by placing food for them up there.

Also 8 pheasants have appeared too along with three song thrushes !!

On tuesday I heard an awful sound of a bird in distress. It was ‘our’ blackbird screaming for his life as the sparrow hawk pinned him down on the floor. I went almost right up to the hawk but he wouldn’t let go as he must have only just caught the poor blackbird.I shouted and he couldn’t lift very high off the grass with the blackbird [its a small male hawk]so managed of get only a little further up our steep garden.

Again I went up to it shouting loudly {explained to the neighbours later what was happening!!!}and this time it released the blackbird and he flew over my shoulder tweeting loudly but no worse for wear only an odd feather sticking up but was back on the bird table next morning eating!!

The sparrow hawk flew over the fence but came back 10mins later to look for the bird where he dropped it!Only to see me again!! Now he has moved down the garden is appearing in wait under the shrubs where the birds eat and dive in from him. I have discovered he is patiently waiting for the birds to go in there.

I first saw him wednesday face to face under there and he shows no fear of me just sits there until I shout etc and he moves but comes back later.

We have today put yet more netting, trellis garden canes etc round but need to make sure blackbirds etc are able to feed. He sits right next to the french door area of shrubs so I can see him easily but again and again he appears to mock me!!!!

After we put more barracades up he found a space and again he sat inside waiting. The robin froze on the bird table late this afternoon so again I went out this time he was the other side of the trellis so at least the birds saw him and he couldn’t get them. I am not convinced he will not be back tomorrow so had better check!! My poor husband has spent most of the day clambering around the steep garden making some of it safer for the birds to eat away from the hawk.

He couldn’t believe it when he saw the sparrow hawk land and sit about 3 feet from my head!I am wondering if it has been reared by a human? It seems every time I go outside its there! I have never known anything like it. I won’t give in and am hoping by the jays etc coming down the garden more often it will move on.

The balloon we put up isn’t working any more which is a shame but then this sparrow hawk doesn’t seem to have any fear. Sorry to go on a bit but I’ve never had an experience like this in all the years of bird feeding. I wonder if anyone else has? I will let you know of any future developments

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Bev, you aren’t going on about it and I understand how important it is to stop this sparrow hawk.

I’ve never had really bad trouble with a sparrow hawk in the garden, but I know they are about nearby.  My problem was with a cat, or cats.  Cats can cause such carnage in a garden.  Their owners feed them and keep them fit and strong and then let them roam and stalk wild birds.   Wild birds need a safe haven on a night as they need their energy for the day.  When birds are stalked all night  by cats and then have to spend all day searching for food they will either die of exhaustion or be too tired to escape from well fed cats that have not had their sleep disturbed.

Fancy the sparrowhawk being so close to you and also showing no fear of you.  The sparrowhawks I see flying in the countryside would not come near any human.  This is very strange isn’t it

I’m sorry the balloon isn’t working now, but I suppose it has got used to it and the balloon is now part of the garden.

You deserve a medal for all you are doing, but I know that feeding birds is important.  We have two or three blackbirds come very early every morning for food and they flit backwards and forwards through the day. The other wild birds move freely from hedge to cane feeder to cage feeder.  I am so sorry you are having this problem .  It must be spoiling your garden and your day.

Here is a link to SONGBIRD SURVIVAL

http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/

It may interest you.  Please let us know what happens

Trisha

 

 

6 thoughts on “BLACKBIRD SCREAMING FOR ITS LIFE

  1. Bev

    Hi Trish ,thanks for info on songbird survival website its excellent . We have moved the feeders yet again slightly higher up the garden near a berberis bush and so far seem ok. Sparrowhawk just got mobbed again by jackdaws-2, blackbirds -4 , and 1 jay!!!This is the young male sparrow hawk and he flew off towards the open field, Hope he finds a few mice !! Went climbing up the garden this morning and its freezing. Put loads of birdcake seeds etc out on flat topped bird table for jays etc not to mention 13 pheasants that all strut about up there. Looked out of the bedroom window and saw the large female sparrow hawk eating something on the bird table. I looked through binoculars and feared the worst until i focused them and could see the hawk was eating brioche bread and raisins that i had soaked in water before putting outside as the robins love it!!I thought wow thats saved a garden birds life!!!! Nature never ceases to amaze us does it? Well the sparrow hawks in this part of yorkshire don’t seem to conform with the usual behaviour shown by other hawks!! These two are mother and son all last summer she was showing him feeding tactics-maybe he will also eat brioche bread next and leave the birds alone for a bit!!!Makes me want to go to morrisons and buy more !!!!We still have canes caged feeders etc so will see how things are when the snow covers the ground this weekend maybe. Kin regards , Bev.

  2. Shell

    Hi,

    We had some trouble with SHs here a couple of years ago and the one or two that were visiting seemed very persistent and would come back 5 mins later. Sometimes would even sit in the trees whilst we were out there.

    We had to remove the bird feeders for a week or two as the SH would see them eating at the feeders. Luckily this was in warmer weather so it worked very well and the SH went away.

    It’s must be more difficult in cold weather because you don’t really want to stop feeding the garden birds. All I can suggest is keep a close eye on things and be there when you can.

    It sounds like the ones in your garden definitely know where the food is at and if they can’t catch the birds they eat what is put out.

    I do hope your canes work well and that the SHs will get fed up and go away. I know they need to eat too but it’s not pleasant hearing the garden birds screech. We heard a poor Starling screech so loud once that we thought it was a Pheasant outside but the SH had caught the poor bird. Starlings also usually arrive in large numbers so would be more easier to catch.

    Luckily the SHs haven’t come back and I hope it stays that way.

    Shell

  3. Trish Post author

    Hi again Shell, I know it’s a balance isn’t it? If you just stop putting bird food out then the birds could starve – especially in the dead of winter. If you put food out a sparrowhawk can catch some of the birds as it hovers round the bird feeding area.

    Keep on feeding seems to be the answer – I think.

  4. Bev

    Hi again, thanks for info and comments on SH problem. This hawk and mother are so persistant its almost unbelievable! I started writing this 4 hours ago but have ended up all afternoon outside keeping the sparrow hawk off the garden. In the end i have taken down the bird table at the top of the garden as the crows , jackdaws etc aren’t around lately when the hawk strikes. It has even dived in after birds on the ground who are eating with all the pheasants we have daily!anyhow I will see how things are for the rest of the week as its so difficult to protect the birds. We have a mistle thrush who lets out a loud call when the SH is approaching and it doesn’t seem to bother with the thrush. As I was at the top of the garden taking table etc down and hosing everything the hawk was above me circling watching !!!Well now we only have feeders and tables closer to the house and I will have to keep an eye out again under the shrubs where he hides.Im hoping the crows, jays, jackdaws etc come down the garden as they used to a few years ago. I really don’t want to stop feeding in winter. We have two caged feeders but the blackbirds won’t go in them unless the door is open which defeats the object somewhat. I have put up a cane wigwam with food in and I’ve made it slightly wider gaps so I hope they will use it tomorrow onwards. we have blocked yet another lot of shrubs with canes net etc as the hawk continues to hide under them which is ironic as the little birds dive in there thinking they are safe and thats not the case. Well here goes,I will try anything to keep the birds safe as I’m sure we all do who write to bird table news with our comments etc. Kind regards Bev.

  5. Trish Post author

    Bev, Sorry for the delay in replying.

    I have been reading back over some other comments.

    Here are one or two notes for you to think about

    1. Only feed in a morning as sparrowhawks are late risers.
    2. Crows do deter sparrowhawks – keep attracting them
    3 Put a plastic Eagleowl in the garden. Eagleowls eat sparrowhawks.
    4. From Shell – •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.
    5. I know you do this but am putting it in again. This is from K – 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
    6. This is from Bill. It was written in 2011. . 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.
    7. And a note from Bev who is also concerned about the problems that sparrowhawks cause – 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.

    There is a lot of info here and I will read through them all again
    http://birdtablenews.com/2010/03/ways-to-stop-sparrowhawk-attacks-in-gardens/

    PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT SONGBIRD SURVIVAL WEBSITE

  6. Bev

    Thanks Trish for all your help and info on our sparrow hawk problem I have posted a reply on the thread from ‘Julie’s sparrow hawk problem and Gary’s tips.’ Seems many people have similar problems and helpful ideas so its good we can exchange info etc on this excellent forum. Kind regards, Bev.

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