Stop the pigeon

Dead pigeon killed by Sparrowhawk

Dastardly deeds have been happening in the garden…

I’ve genuinely struggled to get a photo of the villain that’s been reeking havoc in the garden. I’m sorry, but this best I can do for you.

I’d like to get a photo of our Sparrowhawk – because I suspect she’s a beautiful bird in really great condition. She’s definitely well fed. But then she would be. There’s plenty of fat Wood Pigeons at this time of the year. They’re sitting ducks for our Sprawk.

Poor old Woody

It’s estimated there are around 2.5 million Wood Pigeons in the UK, with numbers increasing in the autumn. Numbers shoot up with passage birds from northern Europe stopping off on their way south to the Med. Strangely, British Woodies don’t travel. They’re home birds, preferring an easy life chomping through arable crops reeking havoc for farmers and gardeners alike.

A Wood Pigeon’s crop is enormous. I’ve read that an adult Wood Pigeon can hold upwards of 150 acorns or 1,000 grains of wheat in its stomach, no wonder they poo so much on my car! Sometimes they get so stuffed they can’t even take off like this one that my son found a few years ago lying on its back under an oak tree.

Back to the Sprawk.

A bit like the Wood Pigeons, British Sparrowhawks don’t travel far but we do get some migrant birds in the autumn from Europe.

And here’s a fact. It’s a popular misconception that Sparrowhawks control the population of local birds. It’s actually the other way around, the distribution of Sparrowhawks is actually regulated by the availability of prey. In the 1960s when Sparrowhawks were nearly wiped out in eastern England by DDT, the population of songbirds showed little or no change.

Right then. I’d better go and clear up some feathers from the lawn…

An update…

A couple of weeks later we had a Peregrine over the house and we saw a Peregrine plucking another poor Wood Pigeon only half a mile from the house. It’s quite possible this isn’t the work of a Sparrowhawk, maybe this is the leftovers from a Peregrine’s lunch. Who knows…

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