The bird feeders in the garden at New House are very busy. I call it the Great Tit Kingdom. The Great Tits are the majority party, and seem to rule the feeders. Then there’s the Blue Tits and Coal Tits who compete for space on a daily basis. The Nuthatches and Woodpeckers are more sporadic visitors, as are the Long Tailed Tits. And then, at least once a day, appears the Slightly Dim Sparrowhawk.
The Slightly Dim Sparrowhawk is a male. He swoops in, with no great subtlety, and sits on top of the trellis where the feeders are. He then seems to wait for the Great Tits and their gang to return to their feeding. Obviously, the birds do not return to feed while there’s a great big lump of hungry hawk sitting there. He waits for quite a while, looking down hopefully at the peanut feeders, and then eventually flies away.
He’s not a Completely Dim Sparrowhawk, though, because we did see him take a Great Tit one day. On this particular day he’d gone for the element of surprise and it had worked for him. I was worried he might employ this technique every day after that but he seems to have returned to the sitting-and-waiting approach.
It’s not that I want Mr Sparrowhawk to go hungry. I just feel responsible for the garden birds because it’s me who puts the peanuts and the sunflower seeds and the fat balls out to tempt them with. If the Slightly Dim Sparrowhawk became a Very Bright Sparrowhawk then I would feel like I was tricking the garden birds into a deathtrap.
Sparrowhawks nest between May and July. During this time the male does all of the hunting to feed his mate and offspring. I think our Sparrowhawk will have to up his game a little over this period of time otherwise he’ll have a very angry partner. [Females are about twice the weight of the males. It’s one of the biggest differences in size in the bird of prey world. She could definitely give him a biff on the nose for being terrible at hunting.]