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Sparrowhawk killing Kestrel (1 Viewer)

Little Man

New member
United Kingdom
Where I live, in South-East Essex, we frequently see Sparrowhawks, but rarely see Kestrels in suburbia. Recently my neighbour contacted me saying that they had found some remains on their front drive, were they Kestrel, and what did I think made the kill? They sent me some photos, and I am pretty sure that the remains were that of a Kestrel. More recently another neighbour reported Kestrel remains in their back garden. Agin, from their photographs, I am agin convinced that they were of a Kestrel.
There was a thread on this about nine years ago on this forum. but nothing since, so I would guess that this in not a common phenomenon.
My guess is that the kestrels were young birds seeking new territories and probably unfamiliar with the local area, and also unfamiliar with the local Sparrowhawks!

John
Kestrel01.jpg
 

Cettia

Well-known member
United States
Where I live, in South-East Essex, we frequently see Sparrowhawks, but rarely see Kestrels in suburbia. Recently my neighbour contacted me saying that they had found some remains on their front drive, were they Kestrel, and what did I think made the kill? They sent me some photos, and I am pretty sure that the remains were that of a Kestrel. More recently another neighbour reported Kestrel remains in their back garden. Agin, from their photographs, I am agin convinced that they were of a Kestrel.
There was a thread on this about nine years ago on this forum. but nothing since, so I would guess that this in not a common phenomenon.
My guess is that the kestrels were young birds seeking new territories and probably unfamiliar with the local area, and also unfamiliar with the local Sparrowhawks!

John
View attachment 1428864
I would say that's some short oh hen/pheasant, but not a kestrel
 

Little Man

New member
United Kingdom
I would say that's some short oh hen/pheasant, but not a kestrel
My identification was based on a comparison with feathers at FeatherBase. As far as I am aware, no-one keeps poultry nearby, certainly not pheasants.
Foxes are certainly common round here, but so are Sparrowhawks. Their usual prey in gardens seems to be Woodpigeons or Collared Doves.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
My identification was based on a comparison with feathers at FeatherBase. As far as I am aware, no-one keeps poultry nearby, certainly not pheasants.
Foxes are certainly common round here, but so are Sparrowhawks. Their usual prey in gardens seems to be Woodpigeons or Collared Doves.
Agree with Pheasant feathers, not Kestrel. (eg shape of and counting the number of 'black bars' 14+ excludes Kestrel). And typical of a Fox kill (chewed ends as mentioned). Pheasants are pretty ubiquitous - and lost birds turn up anywhere potentially. A bird lost in semi-suburbia (you don't mention what type of habitat you are in) would be vulnerable to predation.

It's still interesting to find out what happened.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
My identification was based on a comparison with feathers at FeatherBase. As far as I am aware, no-one keeps poultry nearby, certainly not pheasants.
Foxes are certainly common round here, but so are Sparrowhawks. Their usual prey in gardens seems to be Woodpigeons or Collared Doves.
That's observer bias, the issue being that they eat pigeons where they kill them (because they can't carry them easily) but take smaller birds away to a favoured eating post. So pigeon carcasses and feathers are at the site of the kill whereas tits, sparrows and thrushes most often aren't (as with all Nature it's not a hard and fast rule.)

However the bitten feathers show this is a Fox kill and I concur Pheasant.

John
 

Kits

Picture Picker
Welcome to Birdforum.

They are female pheasant feathers. Nobody keeps poultry round here, but we get a lot of pheasant in the garden.
 

Little Man

New member
United Kingdom
Welcome to Birdforum.

They are female pheasant feathers. Nobody keeps poultry round here, but we get a lot of pheasant in the garden.
OK, so Pheasant, and killed by a Fox, is is! I have looked at Pheasant on FeatherBase. I am still intreagued as to where they might have come from. They both occurred within a week or so of each other (in January). We are suburban, with most houses having reasonable-sized gardens. The nearest what I would call Pheasant habitat is probably at least a mile away.

Thanks for all your comments.

John
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
Germany
I agree, they're definitely from a pheasant. The feathers in the top of the pictures look like primaries, which are strongly bent and quite thick in pheasants (to enable such a heavy bird to take off as quickly as possible). Given that a fox is the likely culprit, it's also quite possible that it killed (or found, as roadkill) the pheasant in some other place and brought to a "safe spot" in order to eat in peace and quiet. FWIW, I've seen a fox carrying around half a Brown Hare. That would explain why it ended up there despite the apparent lack of pheasants locally.
Regarding Sparrowhawk predation on Kestrels, the only item of evidence I've heard of for that is the one picture I've seen shared on BF, so IMO it's a very rare phenomenon. Goshawks and Eagle Owls (where they occur) are the main predators of small raptors, and even in urban regions of the UK, if you were to find the remains of a Kestrel, the culprit would far more likely turn out to be a Peregrine or a house cat than a Sparrowhawk.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
I've seen a (male) kestrel trying to rob a sparrowhawk of prey before, so I've always thought any predation would be the other way round. Think the sparrowhawk was an immature (seen one August), obviously an adult female ambushing a male kestrel is a different matter...
 

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