- Sparrowhawks hunt by surprise-attack - deftly gliding over hedgerows and between trees to almost appear out of nowhere, snatch their prey, and often leave again in a hurry. They were traditionally a woodland bird, so they're well adapt to very accurate flight between trees in heavily wooded areas.
- Female sparrowhawks are around a third bigger than the males. As a result, the females hunt larger prey like Starlings, Thrushes, Blackbirds and Pigeons, whereas the males will go for smaller birds such as Tits, Finches and Sparrows.
- Despite their hunting expertise, Sparrowhawks are only successful in around 10% of hunting attempts!
- Cuckoos have evolved to look like Sparrowhawks from a distance - with similar colours, similar barring on the chest, and an in-flight appearance that can appear like a Sparrowhawk at a glance. This helps the Cuckoo to scare away the nesting songbirds so they can lay their eggs in their nest. In different parts of the world, the local cuckoo species usually bears a resemblance to the local small hawk species.
- In medieval falconry, the sparrowhawk was deemed to be a bird for a priest.. In falconry the male spar has long been known as the musket. The name was later used for the small handgun used by soldiers (hence musketeers).
|Male Sparrowhawk with Blackbird prey. Photo by Kurt Kullmann|
|Female Sparrowhawk with Pigeon Prey. Photo by Sean O'Rourke|
|Sparrowhawk. Photo by John Fox|
|Sparrowhawks from Britain and Ireland caught elsewhere in Europe. See https://blx1.bto.org/ring/countyrec/resultsall/rec2690all.htm for more details|
I hope you've learned something new about Sparrowhawks through this species profile - if there's a species you'd like us to cover later in the winter please let us know on facebook or twitter, and let us know if you've been lucky enough to spot this fantastic predator in your survey yet this winter!