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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 15:13   #1
wolfbirder
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Do Sparrowhawks ever hunt in pairs?

Thinking about my twenty years of twitching and birding, I don't think I've ever seen two Sparrowhawks together.

Except the 2 I saw hunting together over Holland Park in Eilat, Israel in late March, which is a bit too early for Levant Sparrowhawks.

Has anyone else seen Eurasian Sparrowhawks hunting in pairs?
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 16:59   #2
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I have seen two sparrowhawks together, but I didn't see them hunting, just sort of chilling next to each other on the same branch.
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 17:41   #3
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I have seen two hunting together. One went through a copse and the other came over the top for any birds flushed...
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Old Wednesday 5th July 2017, 15:44   #4
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As some will know, I've seen 100s of attacks in my garden at close range over the years, but I've never seen more than one bird at a time. However, years ago, I did see two swooping into a tree at my local reservoirs. One swooped from one side, the other slightly later from the top. (I think I posted it here at the time, but I can't find it. I bet I've not accurately remembered what happened )
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 05:39   #5
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Its evidently quite a rare occurrence, thanks for your replies.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 11:38   #6
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Never seen this with Sparrowhawks, but I once watched two Peregrine Falcons chasing Rooks, they seemed to be working together with one bird dispersing the flock and the other attacking...very spectacular !

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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 11:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markspirito View Post
Never seen this with Sparrowhawks, but I once watched two Peregrine Falcons chasing Rooks, they seemed to be working together with one bird dispersing the flock and the other attacking...very spectacular !

Mark
Yep, Peregrine Falcons are well-known for coordinated hunting; so are a number of other raptors, including e.g. Golden Eagle, Harris's Hawk, etc. But Accipiter species seem to be more just individual hunters. This thread is to seek any instances of Sparrowhawks in particular.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 13:06   #8
King Edward
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosbifs View Post
I have seen two hunting together. One went through a copse and the other came over the top for any birds flushed...
Not doubting your observation, but in cases like this I don't know how you'd distinguish actual coordinated hunting from a mere coincidence of two birds hunting in close proximity. It stands to reason that if enough people watch Sparrowhawks hunting enough times, you're going to observe some cases like this purely through chance.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 13:07   #9
ChrisKten
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Just a few thoughts to expand on my original reply:

I don't think Sparrowhawks ever actually hunt in pairs - more that one might take advantage of the distraction caused by another Sparrowhawk. Territories do overlap, so I guess it could happen that two birds were hunting in the same area at the same time. They could be 100m+ from one another, but watching the same trees/bushes... one swoops in, the other bird reacts to the birds trying to escape the other Sparrowhawk.

I often see them take advantage of distractions - neighbours opening windows that spooked the Starlings, a dustcart noisily collecting rubbish, myself feeding the Pigeons (all the other birds keeping their eye on me while I'm in the garden) a gust of wind moving a bush or tree branches - and also a cloud moving to cover or show the Sun thereby suddenly changing the lighting.

Some in this forum observe nest sites, yet I've never heard of a parent and a youngster hunting together, or siblings hunting together. Although I know there's some training involved (passing dead prey to youngsters in-flight etc)

Dave Culley (Sparrowhawk Island) doesn't post here much anymore, but if anyone has seen cooperative hunting in Sparrowhawks, it will be him. But I've never seen him mention it anywhere.
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 14:17   #10
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Do Sparrowhawks not teach their young to hunt when recently fledged? Came across a bird feeding in a woods once with 3 others in the adjacent branches.

Assume that there must be a short period when the young are hunting with the adults?
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 14:36   #11
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Do Sparrowhawks not teach their young to hunt when recently fledged? Came across a bird feeding in a woods once with 3 others in the adjacent branches.

Assume that there must be a short period when the young are hunting with the adults?
There's an interesting article/study here, Dan; not Sparrowhawk specific, but it should apply. Scroll down to HUNTING DURING THE POST-FLEDGING DEPENDENCE PERIOD if the rest of it isn't of interest
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Old Saturday 8th July 2017, 14:29   #12
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
Thinking about my twenty years of twitching and birding, I don't think I've ever seen two Sparrowhawks together.
While it seems to be about territorial behaviour rather than about hunting, this observation I (coincedentally) found at ornitho.de might be of interest anyhow:

http://www.ornitho.de/index.php?m_id=54&id=26950266

Two sparrowhawks taking flight to attack a soaring red kite, first the male, 10 s later the female. About one minute spent fighting the red kite, which then left, and the sparrowhawks return to their perches "together".

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Old Sunday 9th July 2017, 08:24   #13
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Link no longer exists, but the point is explained anyway.

Thanks Henning.
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Old Sunday 9th July 2017, 08:50   #14
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
Link no longer exists
Oh, sorry for that - it seems one has to be logged in to view the observation. I'll keep that in mind for future ornitho referrals :-/

Date and place of the above record, for the sake of completeness:

24. June 2017 - Aggertalsperre - Gummersbach (NW, GM) / Oberbergischer Kreis

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Henning
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Old Saturday 15th July 2017, 12:09   #15
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While I have never seen them hunting in pairs I have seen them working in a pair to chase off bigger raptors such as Red Kite or Common Buzzard Sometimes this has been Sprawks of the same sex working together rather than a male /female partnership.
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Old Saturday 15th July 2017, 12:16   #16
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Last year I saw two Sparrowhawk flying across the River Kent estuary,hunting, and one of them caught a passage Northern Wheatear.
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Old Saturday 15th July 2017, 14:21   #17
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Wolfbirder,

I once saw a documentary, Attenborough? "The Hunt" I think? showing hunting and breeding behaviour of Eurasian Sparrowhawks. Of necessity this hunting was at different times. The male and female of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk exhibit some of the largest extremes of sexual dimorphism of all raptors. As I understood it, this was an evolved evolutionary response to enhance hunting and breeding success.

Specifically in the deciduous forests of the northern hemisphere, at breeding times of year, the smaller male is adapted to hunt smaller prey in high availability at that time of year, more successfully amongst the denser foliage of that season, while the female sits on the nest, and then raises the young. When the leaves fall in the autumn, and the vegetation cover opens up over winter, is when the larger female comes into her own, able to fly through the larger gaps and hunt different, larger prey species more effectively that don't dwell in such dense cover. This adaption and behaviour is apparently a key survival mechanism.

Based on this I would think it unusual to see the two sexes hunting together, although I have no direct observational history of your northern species, so it may be possible at some times of year. Certainly I've never seen our own Collared Sparrowhawks (which are similarly dimorphic) in evergreen Australia hunting together, (nor Brown Goshawks either) though I spend far more time observing Eagles and Falcons ...... which I have seen hunting co-operatively as male-female pairs many times, even in groups of 3 for Wedge-tailed Eagles ....


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Old Saturday 15th July 2017, 18:41   #18
wolfbirder
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Very interesting views
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