Sparrowhawk dilemma

We have a problem with a sparrowhawk, think it's a female and it's taking quite a few birds from our garden from the feeders and even the bird table , the latest being a blackbird which it grabbed from the birdtable. I went outside to try and chase it off and it just sat there covering the blackbird glowering at me !  It did eventually let it go with me hopping round the garden after it and the blackbird flew away hopefully not too badly hurt but the sparrowhawk hung around for ages. It's also snatched a starling from the bird table and is now weighing up the tits and finches that feed from the fatballs in our tree.

My options are :

A. Stop feeding the birds but we have been doing so for years so worried about upsetting balance of nature. or,

B. Let nature take it's course and let it have it's take away. Spoke to a guy from the r.s.p.b. who told me our garden will be in the sparrowhawk's flight path so think it's here to stay.

Any other ideas , please.

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  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I had this problem, too, so I do sympathise.

    I can't give you a solution, but I moved the feeders to a less open area so the sparrowhawk had to go crashing through bushes to get anything and decreased the amount of food being put out. I also chased the sparrowhawk whenever I saw it, spraying it from a hose whenever possible. It eventually stopped turning up, although whether that was because I'd chased it off or because it died I have no idea.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    It depends on exactly where the feeders are situated. I have mine beneath a pergola. At one point I laid mesh over the top, and down one side. It's relatively protected on the other side by bushes, that the birds use as a staging post before venturing onto the feeders. I haven't had any trouble for a long time, and have in fact removed most of the mesh.

    If it's an isolated bird table in the middle of a garden, and in an open postition, I'd consider moving it to a more sheltered location.

  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436
    jean riley wrote (see)

    A. Stop feeding the birds but we have been doing so for years so worried about upsetting balance of nature. or,

    B. Let nature take it's course and let it have it's take away. Spoke to a guy from the r.s.p.b. who told me our garden will be in the sparrowhawk's flight path so think it's here to stay.

    Any other ideas , please.

    There's no nice way to do this, you are upsetting the balance of nature by feeding the birds in the first place. I've swapped my bird tables for nesting boxes and organic gardening so I can still enjoy the wildlife without too much interfering. Perhaps, phase out the feeding after the breeding season?

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Any act of gardening 'disturbs' the balance of nature. Nature would like my garden to be entirely brambles and nettles, etc. Interference is 'necessary', I suppose.

  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    Don't really want to stop feeding them as the r.s.p.b. chap says it's a good help during the breeding season and in winter when food is scarce . No bread for them ! They get ''proper food'' i.e. seeds, fruit, mealworms e.t.c. I like to think I'm helping out but may take your advice and stop feeding end of July. The birdtable is quite sheltered and sitting on patio I think we have built up a trust with some of our feathered friends as they take food from it even when we are sitting out and all the feeders are in trees and shrubs so nothing is really in the open. To be honest , think my yellow legged friend couldn't give a monkeys where they are placed as long as he gets a meal.

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 855

    Just enjoy watching the sparrowhawk doing its thing. It no doubt has young chicks to feed so why interupt it. Its just natures feeding pyramid and should be celebrated.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    One thing - you may find that its activity drops off after its chicks are fledged, as it simply won't need that much food. As for not feeding after July - the RSPB recommends that you feed all year round. f you stop feeding at that time, young birds will be short of food, whilst others, such as the endangered sparrow, are still breeding.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    The act of gardening is a relationship between ourselves and nature. Gardening is not simply the passive observance of nature.

    In our gardens we make decisions. We decide to get rid of brambles and plant roses. We nurture certain plants and look after them.

    In just the same way as we select plants, we are entitled to have some say about which birds use our gardens.

    I want tits, finches and robins in my garden. I don't want sparrowhawks, pigeons, magpies and jays. I reserve the right to evict anyone from my garden at my discretion.

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 855
    Gary Hobson wrote (see)

    I want tits, finches and robins in my garden. I don't want sparrowhawks, pigeons, magpies and jays. I reserve the right to evict anyone from my garden at my discretion.

    You do inded have that right. But I dont think you should prevent any bird from entering your garden. But then who am I to talk, as I 'evict' grey squirrels from my garden whenever I see one.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256

    Good luck with the eviction programme.

    I have feeders all over my garden  and I get the occasionsal sparrwohawk visiting but they rarely catch anything because my main feeders are all grouped together near a contorted hazel and other shrubs which provide easy cover.  The fact that so many small birds visit means there are plenty waiting their turn and who raise the alarm.  Any bird that is caught is either old or sick or too stupid to be passing o genes to a next generation and psarrowhawks and other raptors are beautiful and need to eat too..

    Recently we've had magpies, crows and jackdaws visiting too but they stick mostly to the ground food and don't disturb the smaller ones on the feeders or faze the chaffinches, robins and blackbirds.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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