#StayWild Tip: Picnic with the birds. Prepare a bird feast with fruit, seeds and cheese.
I really enjoy feeding garden birds, and have been doing so for quite some time. We are lucky to receive a wide range of visitors, mostly fairly common finches, tits, sparrows and starlings, but every so often a very special visitor turns up. Rarely I have also seen great-spotted woodpecker, a treecreeper, waxwing, brambling and redpoll.
Only once have I spotted a sparrowhawk – I happened to look outside and it was on the lawn, mantling – wings spread to conceal its kill – having just attacked a young collared dove.
Today I was standing in the garden watching the feeders for juvenile birds, and was pleased to see many young birds either on the line or hoovering up scraps from the ground – blue tit, great tit, greenfinch, siskin, goldfinch, sparrow, starling, chaffinch, robin and blackbird.
Especially adorable are the baby greenfinch, munching happily away on the sunflower hearts.
At one point there were over twenty little birds clusters around the feeders. Suddenly they burst into flight, scattering in all directions as a large gray blur shot across the fence. It was a sparrowhawk – the rust-coloured face and small white eye-stripe suggestive of a male – and it had grabbed one of the small birds. It was incredibly fast – I have no idea if it snatched the poor bird out of the air or had caught it on the ground.
It was an amazing experience being so close to the kill, but he was clearly not happy about being watched. It was hard to tear my haze away from that bigbig, golden, slightly mad eye. After struggling for a while, he finally took off, taking his meal with him. Only by examining the video and viewing it frame-by-frame did I figure that the victim was one of the greenfinches.
As much as I feel privileged by this visit, I hope he doesn’t make it too much of a regular thing. Less than an hour later he was back again – but too slow this time!