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Sparrowhawk tactics

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Old Wednesday 11th March 2009, 16:10   #26
lockbreeze926
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In north America the pics on this thread would not be a sparrow hawk. and what ticks me off is they changed our"sparrow Hawk" to American kestrel" i guess i am getting old. Dave
Well, this is a regular topic and some of it is just down to the old tomato/tomayto type of distinction, and neither side of the Atlantic has a monopoly on accuracy.

For instance, I think the North American "loon" is far more evocative and satisfactory than "diver", likewise calling Scoters black or white-winged, as Americans do, is far more logical than common or velvet; however, I do prefer the term "skua" to "jaeger", so there is something to gain by moving in both directions.

However, there are some cases where the original north American names are simply, er, wrong, and were awarded by early settlers based on superficial resemblances to things they knew from Europe - most obviously, the American Robin. The Am Kestrel is one such case where the name did need to be changed - it is just not any sort of a hawk, either a true hawk such as accipiter or even a N American hawk of the buteo type. The same applied to the Northern Harrier, that was likewise never a hawk, and also to the vultures, which were never any kind of "buzzard", although this term is still in use.
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Old Wednesday 11th March 2009, 17:22   #27
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Originally Posted by lockbreeze926 View Post
, and also to the (New World) vultures, which were never any kind of "buzzard", although this term is still in use.
Actually, they're not any kind of "vulture" either, but belong to a New World family unrelated to the Old World vultures. If we want to be "accurate" we have to adopt or invent a new name for them--"condors" maybe?. As far as I can tell there's no end to the kind of pedantry you seem to espouse. New World "blackbirds" aren't "really" blackbirds (they're not related to the birds Europeans call "blackbirds"); ditto for New World "sparrows" ( = Old World "buntings" ) & New World warblers (not related to Old World "warblers"). And, of course, that old favorite, "hawks" not "buzzards" for NW buteos.

Names are just labels, you know, mutually agreed upon by the speakers of a language or dialect. They don't really "mean" anything. They also change all the time. Most of the characteristically American bird names weren't invented there but were introduced by the early settlers at a time before there was anything like a standardized list in the old country.

Well this has sure drifting off topic isn't it, as always seems to happen to threads when trans-Atlantic differences in bird names are introduced?
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Old Thursday 12th March 2009, 00:17   #28
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As far as I can tell there's no end to the kind of pedantry you seem to espouse.

Names are just labels, you know,
Hi fugl, that stuff is just mean.

(and manners cost nothing, you know.)
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Old Thursday 12th March 2009, 02:47   #29
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Hi fugl, that stuff is just mean
I think you need to lighten up. What's so "mean" about "pedant"? In another thread I apply the word to myself. And the label remark? What's offensive about that? You're the one, after all, who described the OP as "simply, er, wrong", & I was just setting you straight.
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 09:20   #30
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Sparrowhawk tactics

Pictures of Sparrowhawk eating Pigeon on 5th March, Chester.
Taken with Canon G9 handheld at extreme telephoto range.
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 09:51   #31
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"Now wheres my napkin"

Thats what you call a mess!!
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 11:24   #32
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Arrow Gutted

In my old garden i had this Robin that i feed mealworm for a year, in the end he/she came to my hand to feed, then one day (you know what im going to say now dont you) looking out of my window a female Sparrowhawk was munching on my Robin i was to late i was devastated

But one thing is when you feed the birds you feed the birds
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 11:27   #33
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Anyway James ain't that a feral pigeon ? one less ay ?
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Old Friday 13th March 2009, 12:48   #34
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Anyway James ain't that a feral pigeon ? one less ay ?
I actually quite like Pigeons, even feral ones.

If you observe them you'll find that they are highly intelligent. I spent 2 years trying to stop them getting at the seed and nuts. I hung small trays in the trees, put trays of monkey nuts in the trees for Squirrels, Tits, and Jays. Whatever I tried, they found a way to get at the food; they even dig up the garden to find nuts the Squirrels bury (I mentioned this behaviour in another thread). They have also trained the Squirrels (by bullying them) to leave them one nut from each of the nuts in shells.

I have seen them with one leg, half a leg, no toes, hobbled by string that was left lying around. They get shot at by bored teenagers, poisoned by people that believe they are flying rats.

If you measure intelligence by the ability to survive extreme hardship they are one of the most intelligent birds I've seen.

All I'm saying is, a Bird is a Bird, I'm never happy seeing a Bird, or any animal, suffer.
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Old Sunday 15th March 2009, 14:12   #35
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I do like all birds ! i always feed the pigeons when i go to town and have chips and gravy ? YUM it is very funny watching them throwing them all over the place !
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Old Sunday 15th March 2009, 14:33   #36
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I do like all birds ! i always feed the pigeons when i go to town and have chips and gravy ? YUM it is very funny watching them throwing them all over the place !
The thing that makes me LOL is after they've mated. The male follows the female everywhere, and at speed. When they are running around it's like they are joined by invisible string. The male also frequently pecks the female to keep her away from other males.
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 07:57   #37
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Sparrowhawk tactics

Another picture of the Sparrowhawk: after killing and eating a Pigeon, on 5th March in Chester, it then flew to a tree in my garden where it 'skulked' for a few minutes before flying off. I was very lucky to get this picture because the Sparrowhawk was only in full view for a matter of seconds; note it still has the Pigeon's blood on its talons.
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 08:16   #38
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Another picture of the Sparrowhawk: after killing and eating a Pigeon, on 5th March in Chester, it then flew to a tree in my garden where it 'skulked' for a few minutes before flying off. I was very lucky to get this picture because the Sparrowhawk was only in full view for a matter of seconds; note it still has the Pigeon's blood on its talons.
Was you lucky enough to see the attack? Did you see where the attack came from? Was the Pigeon ill, isolated, or amongst other Pigeons?

Just curious, as it might help to compare with the experiences I've posted here.
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 11:48   #39
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I didn't see the initial attack. My attention was drawn by the 'kerfuffle' outside. I looked out my kitchen window to see what all the fuss was about and there were no birds at all in my back garden, which was unusual, just sounds of agitation from hidden birds. I first thought it was maybe a cat, so I looked out my side window onto my long drive (typical escape route for local cats) but saw nothing, so I went upstairs for a better view. Still nothing, but then I noticed movement on next-door's drive, so leaned out of the window and saw the Sparrowhawk dragging the Pigeon, which may still have been alive, behind a bin in the corner. I grabbed my binoculars from another room and by the time I could get a good view the Pigeon was probably deceased, since the only movement was the Sparrowhawk ripping feathers off it. So I raced downstairs for my camera, then spent a half-hour or more trying to obtain shots of the carnage at extreme telephoto range, not easy because I didn't want to disturb the Sparrowhawk and I was half-hanging out of a window, sideways on! Some time later, a Blackbird alighted on my fence, oblivious to the goings-on below, but then it turned its head and I wish I'd had time to picture the look of dismay on its face! When the Sparrowhawk had eventually eaten enough, and leaving a mess of feathers on the path, it swooped over my fence and darted into a dense tree in my back garden. I could just make out its shadowy movements, then all went quiet. I was about to give up, when suddenly it came into full view for a few seconds, just time sufficient for one click of the shutter, showing some blood on its claws, then it flew off. My guess is that, at the outset, the Sparrowhawk probably sat patiently in that tree, in wait for its next meal, and one of the usual Pigeon visitors to my garden obliged, falling prey to this watchful predator, whereupon it carried its kill to a secluded corner where it could feed undisturbed, if not unobserved. The only other incident I've seen of this kind was a couple of years ago when a Sparrowhawk caught another Pigeon and devoured it at the bottom of my back garden, under the bird table, in the corner of the wall, a safe place to keep a good lookout. It calmly took half an hour to eat its fill but, because I'd not got a charged battery in my digital camera, and no film for my 35mm SLR, I had to be content with viewing the scene with my binoculars, so the event went unrecorded, except in my memory. I have regular wildlife visits to my garden, including two or three Grey Squirrels daily, one of which comes begging at the backdoor; if I don't respond with alacrity, it climbs the pebbledash and looks in through the window, as if to say "nuts!".
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 10:34   #40
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it would seem to me that sprawks adopt hunting tactics to suit thier surroundings and available prey.I have around 5 that visit my garden, 2 juvs(1M+1F), 1 of last years offspring(F), and mum+dad.
the mother often works with last years female to attack larger prey, they often take jackdaw, magpie and even the odd carrion crow, the male and the juvs sticking to finches mainly. some pics on :-
www.flickr.com/photos/mosesdavies
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 15:34   #41
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the mother often works with last years female to attack larger prey, they often take jackdaw, magpie and even the odd carrion crow
Heard of female s'hawks taking jackdaw and magpie (and commonly woodpigeon) but have never heard of them taking carrion crows or hunting co-operatively- very interesting! Any more details? Just looked at photos there too- excellent.

Great original observations from ChrisKten, the sort of birding I like best.
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 12:17   #42
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have never heard of them taking carrion crows
Our bird group, many years ago, had a presentation one night which included an action sequence of a female Sprawk taking an adult Crow (Hooded, actually, was in N Scotland) .

The photographer was startled to witness the event but reported that the crow seemed healthy, etc. I was particularly surprised because the Sprawk lacks a kill-shot and would therefore be likely to have great difficulty in subduing the crow, but it happens.......
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 14:16   #43
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Our bird group, many years ago, had a presentation one night which included an action sequence of a female Sprawk taking an adult Crow (Hooded, actually, was in N Scotland) .

The photographer was startled to witness the event but reported that the crow seemed healthy, etc. I was particularly surprised because the Sprawk lacks a kill-shot and would therefore be likely to have great difficulty in subduing the crow, but it happens.......
I would imagine that would be one heck of a fight. Crows visit my garden daily for nuts in shells. They use their beak like a chisel to effortlessly take the nut from the shell. In fact they remove two nuts in less time than the Squirrels take to remove one. They also have enormous wings. I wouldn't fancy being stabbed or wing slapped by a Crow.
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2009, 15:58   #44
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Our bird group, many years ago, had a presentation one night which included an action sequence of a female Sprawk taking an adult Crow (Hooded, actually, was in N Scotland).
Very interesting. Have yet to see a sparrowhawk taking any prey to tell you the truth!

From BWP...

Larger bird species included many C. palumbus, Stock Dove C. oenas, Jay Garrulus glandarius, and Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, and also included Partridge Perdix perdix, ♀ Pheasant Phasianus colchicus, Red and Willow Grouse Lagopus lagopus, ♀ Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix , Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, and other A. nisus of both sexes (Tinbergen 1946; Uttendörfer 1952; I Newton and M Marquiss).

Female pheasant (750-1200g) and black grouse (750-1100g) are considerably heavier than a hooded/carrion crow (370-650g). Kestrels and other sparrowhawks would presumably be able to defend themselves as well as a crow too.

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I would imagine that would be one heck of a fight.
Me too, I would've thought a crow could defend itself alright but sparrowhawks must be pretty tough too!
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2009, 17:07   #45
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My guess is that many or most birds of prey--Kestrels, other birds of their own species--taken by Sparrowhawks are young inexperienced individuals. I actually witnessed a Cooper's Hawk snatch a young American Kestrel out of the air a few years ago. The victim was part of a group of 3-4 fledglings, strong on the wing but still being looked after by their parents. While I was watching the group (which was ineffectually harassing a Killdeer brood on the lawn of a big public park), I idly followed one of the fledglings through binoculars as it flew towards an isolated cottonwood about 50 yards away. When still about 10 ft. from its destination, the fledgling was attacked by a Cooper's Hawk coming out of the tree directly at it from the dense foliage where it had been concealed. The 2 birds met head-on, the hawk binding to the kestrel in midair, turning back along its course, and flapping heavily off with it in one continuous movement. I chased after the hawk & found it again a few minutes later on the lawn about 100 yds away, still with its prey. Cooper's Hawks, I believe, average a little larger than Sparrowhawks (but not by much) & the American Kestrel is a touch smaller than the European bird, but the mid-air collision between the 2 birds was still something to see & left a real impression.
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2009, 21:40   #46
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For s.james, "my" sprawks have hunted together for a few years. mum seems to teach the newest female for a whole year, and any previous female then leaves.
The males are left to learn by thier mistakes.
This morning I witnessed a new tactic by last years male, he sat on the ground behind some small bushes after I had filled the feeders.
Along comes a robin, grabs some suet pellets and on to the floor next to the sprawk, didnt even see what was coming
We live and learn and so do sprawks.
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2009, 21:47   #47
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Fugl, the UK female kestrel is only slightly smaller than the female sprawk, and if there is food about the kestrel will not leave without a fight, unless crows drive her off.
There are some pics of a female kestrel that has just taken up a sprawks favourite branch on my web site.

www.flickr.com/photos/mosesdavies

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Old Friday 10th April 2009, 09:39   #48
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I thought I'd post an update on what's been happening with the Sparrowhawks, nothing, nothing has been happening.

I've seen no sign of Sparrowhawks since I last posted in this thread (about 3 weeks). There's been no piles of feathers, no Starlings flying off screaming, no Sparrows' alarm calls (their alarm is quite distinctive when a Hawk has attacked), nothing. When the birds have been spooked they've returned almost instantly, which they don't do if a Hawk is about.

I know it sounds odd to most, but this is the longest period I've had over the last few years without evidence of Sparrowhawks.

I hope they are OK.
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Old Friday 10th April 2009, 09:56   #49
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Ken, One reason maybe that the warmer weather means less food intake, or the food is more widespread especially now with migrants coming in.
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Old Friday 10th April 2009, 10:23   #50
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Ken, One reason maybe that the warmer weather means less food intake, or the food is more widespread especially now with migrants coming in.
Yeah, I hope that's the reason. Although I've noticed a few sick Pigeons in the street displaying symptoms of PMV. I don't know how resistant Sparrowhawks are to PMV if they were to eat an infected Pigeon.

BTW, who's Ken.
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