Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sparrowhawk kill at the Park

Sparrowhawk being watched by Guinea Fowl flock Sparrowhawk & kill surrounded by Guinea Fowl

These are images captured this morning of a Sparrowhawk at Seaview Wildlife Encounter outside one of our enclosures – having just brought down a Pigeon. As I approached, so did a flock of inquisitive Helmeted Guinea Fowl, but the Sparrowhawk held his ground and continued plucking at his Pigeon prey, occasionally opening up his wings to ward off the nosy intruders.

Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) are most often found in woodlands, along hedgerows and in parks and gardens across the UK (except parts of Scotland). In winter they’re seen in more open areas such as salt marshes adjacent to woodland. The ones we see around the Park are often flying fast and low in pursuit of prey (usually Pigeons) , or soaring high on rounded wings.

Sparrowhawk kill Feb 11 Sparrowhawk with kill Feb 11

We’re not entirely sure but think this may be a male bird? Adult males have a slate grey back and white under-parts, closely barred with orange. Their grey tail has 4-5 dark bars. Females are larger, with brown upperparts, a white stripe over the eye and dark barring underneath. They look heavier than the males. Their broad, rounded wings and long tail are adapted for flying between trunks and branches enabling them to weave in and out of trees at high speed. They apparently never hover like kestrels.Sparrowhawk on pigeon kill Sparrowhawk head

Photos by Jules Brittan – General Manager, Seaview Wildlife Encounter

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