View Full Version : Do sparrowhawks hover?

Wednesday 3rd December 2003, 14:07
My neighbour said she saw what she thought was Mrs Spawk hovering. I always thought they flew rather low in a fast "surprise attack" mode - at least she does so in my garden.

Michael Frankis
Wednesday 3rd December 2003, 14:23
I've seen the occasional short hover over the top of dense bushes to try to flush out small birds that they know are hiding in there, but it is not normal Sprawk behaviour. If it was persistent, and high up, I'd be thinking mis-identified Kestrel.


Thursday 4th December 2003, 18:39
Thanks Michael.

Thursday 4th December 2003, 20:01
or Rough legged Buzzard.

Mike D
Thursday 4th December 2003, 20:19
Agree with Michael - They will 'screech to a halt; and hover for a short time over some unsuspecting meal before dropping closer, hoping to frighten it into flight. If the meal does, then quite often the meal is!
But a Kes-like hover - never seen it myself. As you said it's usually a pounce, using their favourite metod of moving from one side of a hedge to the other.

Friday 5th December 2003, 08:32

Friday 5th December 2003, 23:01
I agree with Spar all birds of prey can hover to some extent, some are obviously better at it than others, but Kestrels, Buzzards and yes Sparrowhawks are fairly good at it when they want to be.


Thursday 18th December 2003, 15:11
As it has been said sparrowhawks do hover, but not for any lenght of time and not as easily as a kestrel. If this bird you have seen hovers for more than 5 seconds I would imagine it's a kestrel. If you are able to see the bird in normal flight the wing shape and flight pattern should give you a clue

Thursday 18th December 2003, 15:40
Hi bukem

Sparrowhawks and various other raptors such as Buzzard, Peregrine, Golden Eagle etc are more than capable of hovering for periods well in excess of 5 seconds.


Thursday 18th December 2003, 17:25
Hi Nirofo

I am aware all these birds hover but not for as long as you suggest i stand corrected thankyou.
I think this is quite uncommon behavior for them though isn't it ?.

Mike D
Thursday 18th December 2003, 17:43
As I said in my thread:
"They will 'screech to a halt; and hover for a short time over some unsuspecting meal before dropping closer, hoping to frighten it into flight."

I was perhaps wrong to use the word 'hovering'. Perhaps I should clarify what I have seen:

I have seen a Spar quartering a hedge here in Norfolk when it has suddenly stopped it's forward motion (application of air-brakes) looked below, into the hedge and then swooped, almost 'stooped' down to the hedge.

I have never seen a Spar maintain a hover as do Kes. But I would like to hear if anyone out there has.

The two species have such different methods of catching prey that hovering in the true sense of the word does not easily lend itself to the ambush tactic used by the Spar.

Thursday 18th December 2003, 18:38
I say again and emphasise the point, Sparrowhawks, Buzzards, Peregrines, Golden Eagles and others do hover for well in excess of 5 seconds !! I have observed this behaviour on several occasions. Sparrowhawks and Buzzards do it routinely, others less frequently.


Edward woodwood
Thursday 18th December 2003, 21:30
words such as 'hover' may not be enough to convey the difference of meaning intended by all participants in this thread

I have never seen a Sprawk hover over a field as Kestrel does for any length of time

Edward woodwood
Thursday 18th December 2003, 22:07
Hi Spar

have you seen a Sprawk hover apart from stall-hovering?

Thursday 18th December 2003, 23:27
So as not to confuse, hover as in remaining hovering in one place for a length of time, using wing movements and thermals to stay in one place, usually during hunting. Not just a brief hover but for considerably longer than 5 seconds. Anyone who is familiar with the hunting methods of the various birds of prey will have observed Sparrowhawks hovering over a hedgerow, Buzzards hanging in the air over the side of a hill while watching a rabbit, or a golden Eagle hovering in the thermals while looking for Ptarmigan. Hovering, among the many other hunting techniques are what make these birds so successfull.


Friday 19th December 2003, 11:55
I think it is agreed spars do hover , as do wood pigeons.
now you think I'm daft right but it's true. I saw a wood pigoen despiratly flying into strong wind to reach a wooded area in front of it. As the bird flapped vigarously it remained stationary in the sky then as the pigoen began to move in reverse it realised it's piontless quest and flow to saftey.
I know it's not technicaly hovering because it was involentry but nether the less the wood pigeon did hover!