Dunnocks feasting on soggy bread

Have a pair of Dunnock’s visiting my garden on a regular basis.

They seem quite happy feeding on soggy wholemeal bread
which I place on the bird-table.  Annette


Hi Annette,

The Dunnocks I get in my garden always seem to be hidden in the hedgerow.  You’re lucky that these Dunocks feel at home in your garden.

Thanks for telling us.  I can picture them happily tucking into their meal



A Hare in my garden








Where's our mum?

Where’s our mum?

It’s nice to share my garden with wildlife. Especially the Hare, because  I usually see hares in the distance a few fields away.  It has been into the garden a few times and lays down on the grass just outside our  window.   It obviously does not know the difference between garden and countryside.  Hopefully there isn’t one.


From Tracy in Lincolnshire

I have just been horrified to see a sparrow, dragging another sparrow savagely by the neck around the ground while a team of 5 other sparrows took turns to peck and attack it.

The bird was struggling and terrified.

I went to intervene but as they flew the injured bird couldn’t fly very well and they attached it mid-air, smashing it into a tree and as it fell to the ground they were on top of it ripping at it.

I couldn’t watch any longer and I couldn’t rescue the bird as they were very quick. Nasty little thugs! 


From Jane in Norfolk

Today I heard tweeting from my neighbour’s garden.

2 female house sparrows were fighting. Other sparrows were looking on and cheeping.

On the ground I could see what looked like dead babies. It really looked like one of the females was definitely killed as she stopped flapping. The other female carried on attacking the dead body. This was in Norfolk,


This must happen a lot.  I hear about sightings because readers get in touch with me.  Think about how many more such attacks must take place out of sight of human sight.

Very strange and very interesting

Thank you to you both for getting in touch


I have recently received comments about sparrowhawks killing our garden birds.  I have been looking through  comments that  other readers have suggested. Below are two recent comments about sparrowhawks and a list of 14 comments / ideas that other readers have sent in over the years.  As sparrowhawks do not like rooks one idea was to put a recording of a rook in the garden.  Please read through the other ideas.


I can’t understand the mentality of the people who re-introduced and encouraged the growth of the hawk population in this country. They have no predators and are just emptying our gardens of song birds. Perhaps if we stop buying commercial bird food something might be done. I spend £s on raisins for the blackbirds and a sparrow hawk took another black bird this afternoon.

This comment was in reply to this article on Bird Table News



And this from 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!

This comment was in reply to this article on Bird Table News –





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


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.


I  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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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 !


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!!


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!!


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


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.


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.


Has anyone else any opinions / ideas?

How can I attract Blue Tits into my garden?

Hi Trisha, I don’t seem to be able to attract blue tits into my garden, despite best efforts. I have a variety of foods and different nest boxes, which although I don’t have much cover, I have located behind some tree branches. I also have a bird table and bird bath.

As per previous post, I dont get a lot of birds because of the location of our garden, but do currently have a faithful dunnock and also a collared dove, and think there is a robin nesting nearby as that comes in and out occasionally. Although they move so quickly I hardly ever catch them! Any recommendations to help would be appreciated.. Thanks


Thanks for getting in touch with me. Firstly,  It’s brilliant that you are trying to attract Blue Tits into your garden.  Here is a link that shows one reason why BLUE TITS SPEND 85% OF EVERY WINTER’S DAY LOOKING FOR FOOD –

Click this link below –



  I don’t know what bird food you are putting out but Peanut Granules are brilliant bird food  they are power packed with proteins and oil which makes them a nourising nibble for our garden birds including Blue Tits.

Peanut granules  give birds  energy for the day and night ahead.  This is important at any time of the year,  but more so when it is winter  because in winter birds need high protein to survive the dark, cold nights.  So peanut granules are a good all round bird food

Peanut Granules - Energy Food for Birds

Peanut Granules – Energy Food for Birds


  • Bite sized pieces of peanut heart
  • Easier for bird to eat and digest than whole peanuts
  • Packed with protein and oils
  • Appeal to all garden birds not just birds that can feed from peanut feeders.
  • Can be fed from bird tables, the ground, ground feeders and also tube feeders – which is why peanut granules attract more garden birds.
  • An energy food that helps birds survive the winter nights


  • Robins
  • Dunnocks,
  • Chaffinches
  • Blackbirds
  • Blue Tits
  • Coal Tits
  • Great Tits
  • Greenfinches
  • Sparrows


Haith's - Trusted Bird Food Since 1937


Sunflower hearts are eaten by a lot of birds including –

  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • Chaffinch
  • Coal tit
  • Dunnock
  • Goldfinch
  • GreatTit
  • Greenfinch
  • House sparrow
  • Robin
  • Starling
  • Woodpecker

Sunflower hearts are not eaten by

  • Song thrush
  • collared dove

So feeding sunflower hearts and peanut granules helps a lot of birds including blue tits



I  use a  ground feeder with a wire mesh cover.  I get a lot of blue tits popping in and and out all day.  I put the food on a meshed bird food tray and they feed off that.  I don’t put whole peanuts out at the moment because the young could choke on them.
Hope this helps.  Keep in touch and let me know how you get on


This first appeared in on Bird Table News in 2009 but Kate’s 2007 findings could be  relevant today  –


Everyone knows the house sparrow but not many give it a second glance.  A detailed survey into sparrow breeding showed some reasons why urban sparrow numbers may be dropping.

I admire the sparrow.  I think, without realising it, I’ve seen at least one a day for the past 20 years.  I’ve taken this little sparrow for granted.

Yet it’s success is closely tied to our own.

Sparrows are thought to have spread across Europe from Africa at the time of Neolichic man!  So they have been connected to us through history.  What a story they would tell if they could speak.

Colonies of house sparrows that live near an isolated farm or on an island only seem to survive as long as man is there.  This ability they have to use what man provides enables them to have up to 3 broods a year.

Yet in some areas house sparrows are declining.  Farming methods have sometimes been blamed but this is not the complete picture.

Kate Vincent a student from Leicester’s University collected data about urban sparrows.

Kate is very dedicated.  In 2007 she studied 619 nest boxes in Leicester which she put up over the previous three years.

She found that in urban areas the second or third broods of chicks are dying  in the nest.    The reason for this is unknown but starvation or infection could be a cause.

In some places the number of deaths is so big that the population of the house sparrow is dropping.

One of the reasons could be that early and late broods do have different diets.  Spring chicks are fed on beetles and daddy longlegs.  The midsummer birds are fed on smaller insects like aphids.  Aphids are plant eating insects – so lets get planting!

When the chicks are born, when they are at their most vulnerable, they eat only insects   and if there are not enough insects they will die of starvation.

Kate’s research and survey is really  valuable. It is relevant today and does provides questions as well as answers.