Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sparrowhawk preys on feral pigeon at the Park - caught on camera

Out in the Park yesterday late afternoon, two birds shot past me - one in hot pursuit of the other, just a flash of movement, swooping through narrow spaces like two miniature fighter pilots engaged in combat .... moments later I witnessed this Sparrowhawk, bright eyed and alert, on top of her pigeon prey. She was surrounded by a group of Peafowl who had gathered to watch and perhaps even to participate in the event - the Sparrowhawk had to raise her wings intermittently at the Peafowl to keep them at bay. I've included some key facts about the Sparrowhawk:

This is a Eurasian (or Northern) Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus); a small bird of prey. Adult males have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below - we think that the visitor to our Park was probably a female. The females are up to 25% larger than the males – one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species.
The Sparrowhawk is a predator that specialises in catching woodland birds. There are an estimated 40 000 resident throughout the UK. Sparrowhawks seem to thrive in a variety of habitats and are often seen hunting for garden birds in urban and suburban areas. The smaller male Sparrowhawk tends to hunt for smaller birds such as tits, finches, and sparrows; whereas the larger female is more likely to take thrushes and starlings - however, as can be seen in my photo, female Sparrowhawks are capable of killing larger birds such as pigeons (sometimes weighing more than 500grams).

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