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Old 12-03-2017, 07:58 PM
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BradazTheFalconer BradazTheFalconer is online now
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Default Sparrowhawk Investigation

Hi Everyone,

I had a visit from a Male Sparrowhawk (Musket) this afternoon. My parents called me from my room saying it was on the fence. I went out to find a beautiful peachy-coloured Spar sitting on the fence about four metres away from the house. It was feather-perfect, a really lovely bird. I've attached a photo, of many others, that I managed to get(image 1). It must have been in the garden for about an hour.

He was really alert and definitely in hunting mode, both feet on the fence with feathers pulled in and leaning forward looking around (image 2). After a while, it turned around and dashed off into the neighbour's garden after something, I thought it would be gone for good as it sent up most of the birds on the estate! It soon returned to the fence empty-taloned however so had missed whatever it went after.

He pulled his leg up and fluffed himself out, clearly not in the mood for hunting any more. He started lurching his head back and I knew he was about to cast a pellet and then did. I was moving about quite a lot and this didn't seem to bother him at all. As he seemed pretty content and calm, I decided to do a little investigation. I grabbed my phone and speaker and went outside. I wasn't expecting to be able to get far before he flew off however he allowed me to get to get opposite him so I was about four metres in front. I then played the Sparrowhawk calling for the RSPB website through my speaker, this didn't seem to phase him at all and I got no reaction which I was surprised about. I then went on YouTube and found a different clip of a Sparrowhawk calling, this time, a different call altogether. Upon hearing this, the bird instantly turned to look at me and fixated on me for a few seconds before flying off down our garden and out of sight. I thought this was quite interesting and I'm going to work out what type of calls I played to see if it makes sense at the opposite reactions I received from the bird.

I went back inside to grab a container to see if I could find the pellet the bird dropped. After about five minutes of looking around the area the bird was perched, I found the pellet fully intact which I put in the container(image 3). I'm going to leave the pellet to fully dry in the container. I'll then add warm water to the container and stir it up so the bones and remains separate from the other material. I'll sieve out the water and then pick through the material to find the remains which I can then lay out and attempt to see what the Spar had for lunch.

I know for a fact that we have a local pair of Sparrowhawks and we often get visits from them. One was on Christmas Day last year, we were eating our bird roast when we noticed a bunch of feather in the air. I then used my scope to find the Female perched a tree at the bottom of our garden with a Starling. It was nice to see the the Sparrowhawk had her Christmas dinner as well! I have a hunch that the remains in the pellet I have now may be from a Starling but will soon see. I also spotted the Female flying whilst the Male was in the garden so they're obviously getting closer together for breeding soon. This was a nice end to the weekend and I thought I may as well utilise the fact he dropped a pellet and his surprisingly laid-back temperament for a wild bird. I shall update this thread once I've found out what the types of call I played and also the result from the pellet dissection. I hope everyone whose birds are down have a good moult!

Kind Regards,

Bradley
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg IMG_4575.jpg (95.1 KB, 316 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4625.jpg (83.8 KB, 314 views)
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2017, 09:05 PM
PaulUsHilarius PaulUsHilarius is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Nice one Bradley! Great to come across such a tame musket. He is a looker! I believe urban sparrowhawks are now not that bothered by close proximity of people.

I think you will find there is not much bone in the pellet.... hawks seem to digest it, unlike owls. Also I wonder why you want to dry the casting out before you make it wet again?

I listened to the spar call on the RSPB website and it is a recording of juvenile sparrowhawks calling after they have left the nest. Could the second call you played have been an alarm call I wonder?
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:07 PM
Billy Mazella Billy Mazella is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Good write up Brad and a fine little musket to see! I had an encounter with one today too! Only he almost flew in to my windscreen but pulled up at the last minute. Hope you're well!

Any Bill
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:45 PM
Stockley Birds Of Prey Stockley Birds Of Prey is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Lovely pic thanks
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:42 PM
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Beautiful musket, well done Bradley. Regards Chris
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Old 13-03-2017, 02:02 PM
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BradazTheFalconer BradazTheFalconer is online now
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulUsHilarius View Post
Nice one Bradley! Great to come across such a tame musket. He is a looker! I believe urban sparrowhawks are now not that bothered by close proximity of people.

I think you will find there is not much bone in the pellet.... hawks seem to digest it, unlike owls. Also I wonder why you want to dry the casting out before you make it wet again?

I listened to the spar call on the RSPB website and it is a recording of juvenile sparrowhawks calling after they have left the nest. Could the second call you played have been an alarm call I wonder?
Thanks Paul, it was a nice treat to have it in the garden. The Sparrowhawks are usually quite skittish but this one was different. I will have to see the result of the pellet, I dried it up with the thinking that it may allow the pellet to settle a little more so it'll be easier to separate it. I may be wrong as I didn't look up how to do it properly. It makes sense that the bird didn't react to a Juvenile call, too early for youngsters and the fact that it wouldn't see a Juvenile as much of a threat. I will link the YouTube video I used tonight and see if you'll be able to determine what the call was. I recognised the call as being a common one that Sparrowhawks use however I'm not very good at interpreting the meanings of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Mazella View Post
Good write up Brad and a fine little musket to see! I had an encounter with one today too! Only he almost flew in to my windscreen but pulled up at the last minute. Hope you're well!

Any Bill
Bit more of a dramatic encounter to mine, he just sat there and watched the world go by. I'm very well thanks, I got accepted into college the other day to study my Animal Management Diploma so that was some good news & a bit of a boost. How are you doing, have you put your birds down to moult?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stockley Birds Of Prey View Post
Lovely pic thanks
You're welcome, I'll put a few more on tonight. I managed to get one of it preening which was good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisSquance View Post
Beautiful musket, well done Bradley. Regards Chris
He was, I'm looking forward to seeing what results the pellet gives. Hopefully it'll be worth it.

Thanks,

Bradley
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Old 14-03-2017, 12:00 AM
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RamishHawk RamishHawk is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Nice pictures Brad.
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Old 14-03-2017, 02:09 PM
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Chance Chance is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Great pic Brad. John
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  #9  
Old 14-03-2017, 05:57 PM
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BradazTheFalconer BradazTheFalconer is online now
Bradley Church
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Quote:
Originally Posted by RamishHawk View Post
Nice pictures Brad.
Thanks Steve!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Great pic Brad. John

Cheers John. As you all seem to like them, here's some more! Paul, I've added the link of the YouTube video I used as the second call which made the bird leave. Would you be able to tell me what type of call it is?

YouTube Sparrowhawk Call:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xU8tO1TQ2Q

Regards,

Bradley

And another:
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  #10  
Old 14-03-2017, 06:46 PM
PaulUsHilarius PaulUsHilarius is offline
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Default Re: Sparrowhawk Investigation

Hi Bradley,
I'm no great expert, but yes the YouTube clip sounds like an alarm call. The adults also make a similar call when food passing, which I think is a bit softer and less urgent.
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