Carnage in Northiam, East Sussex.

Sparrow hawk sex to be decided.

The most incredible, bloody, frenzied ,aerial attack took place in my garden yesterday 13/4/2023. As a birder this was a fantastic experience from just 8 metres away .I watched the aftermath of this attack for an hour ,wishing I had seen the initial hit .Failing this I decided to forensically take the kill apart.

This first picture is below the hitting zone ,the sparrow hawk attacked with so much force the collared dove didn’t know what hit it ,the evidence is the scattering of feathers on the ground below.

With the dove in its claws the sparrow hawk negotiated the tree at around 50 klm an hour until it reached the killing zone. You can make out the feathers on the ground by the fence. Amazing precision and agility for a fast killing machine.

Scene of the killing .Below is the wall where the dove was hit, silently and deadly.

Tired, with the kill having just taken place ,the life and death struggle came to an end quickly . With all the commotion the sparrow hawk is a little disorientated and looks around for dangers. At this point if I was to show myself ,I think it would have tried to fly off.

Once the sparrow hawk had calmed down he was happy, to feed. At this point due to its size and colouring I think it is a male .The female is bigger and browner. The jury is out. The amount of food it eats varies .It rips into the chest and devours big chunks of flesh ,when that has gone it slowly picks at the rest. The crop in the throat gets bigger and bigger. Once the bird starts to eat it would take a lot to scare it off. This maybe its only kill for two days. Gradually, I can get a little closer, but if looks could kill I would be dead.

Blood ,bone, feathers muscle and guts nothing gets wasted. Once finished, I left the feathers for nesting material.

As the feast comes to an end with all the larger bones amputated, all that’s left are the slim pickings of the lighter rib cage and wings ,which the sparrow hawk flies away with. While another collared dove (maybe its mate) looks on, perplexed.

You can just make out its enlarged crop. Look at the ripping tool of its beak.

Collared dove and a woodpigeon.

BTO facts:31,000 pairs in 2016 ,

Found widespread in England and Ireland.

Present year-round.

4-5 eggs laid.

Survival 4 years .A ringed bird was recorded at17 years.

2 thoughts on “Carnage in Northiam, East Sussex.

  1. A sparrowhawk patrols our row of back gardens every day. You can tell by the flurry of all the little birds in every direction. I often catch the perpetrator gorging itself on the lawn. Collared doves seem to be the commonest prey. There is not much left at the end of the feast. Somewhere I posted close up pictures.


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