Sparrowhawk – Accipiter nisus

I photographed this magnificent bird through the glass of my bedroom window when I spotted it feeding on what appeared to be the remains of a Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). They sure do not waste anything.

The Sparrowhawk has bounced back in recent years after almost becoming extinct in some eastern counties of Britain. DDT in pesticides reduced their numbers by thinning their egg shells in the 1950s. It has now become one of the most abundant and widely distributed birds of prey. The male is smaller than the female. The male is a beautiful barred-orange below, with an orange face, and bluish-grey upperparts. The female is barred-grey below and has a pale line over the eyes.

They hunt small birds along hedges, woodland verges, or into gardens and finding birds at feeding stations. The males take tits and finches, where the females take thrushes, pigeons, and starlings. They nest on a small platform of thin twigs on a flat branch, and lay 4 or 5 eggs in 1 brood from March to June. They can live for up to 10 years.

Seen all year round, and found in woodland, hedgerows and gardens. Common and widespread, except for parts of the Scottish Highlands, the Western Isles and Shetland.