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Bird of prey or cat?

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RogerS

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Something is decimating our much treasured slug-stormtroopers aka blackbirds. For many years now we have no slugs or snails as the blackbirds get the lot. In return, we feed 'em up well over winter. Maybe that's where we're going wrong..too fat and too tasty a morsel for something or other.

We've lost three in as many weeks and all that is left are feathers. No carcass..no bones...nothing...which tends to make me think it might be a bird of prey but it would have to be bloody agile as the killing takes place inside the (very small) walled garden and so the angle of attack to swoop down is almost vertical. If it is a bird of prey then nothing I can do about it.

But do cats eat the lot? Or the only other way in is over the wall and so a cat with a blackbird in its mouth jumping a 7ft wall? Is that possible? We are generally cat free, thank God, as they soon get the message that they are not welcome in our garden. But if it is a cat then that problem is resolvable.
 

Harbo

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Probably a SparrowHawk we get frequent attacks.
They often hide in trees before making an attack and I have even seen then chasing birds inside the branches.
Here's a photo of a Collard Dove being eaten - all it left was a few feathers and a pair of legs!
 

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RogerS

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Nice photo. I think you could well be right as I can't see the buzzards being agile enough to get in...there would also be telltale signs of broken plants!
 

nev

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+1 for sparrowhawk. we have one turns up at dusk (later in the year) that chases and catches the bats mid flight as they leave the roost in my cavity wall. and to catch a bat you need to be pretty nifty!


or a cat :wink:
 

RogerP

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One day last summer I was sitting on the patio quaffing tea. Along side is a pergola type structure coved with climbing plants and housing a couple of bird feeders. A sparrow hawk suddenly dived down through all this woodwork and vegetation at warp speed and plucked a great tit from a feeder.

On the subject of cats. They are extraordinarily strong. I once saw one of ours jump onto a five foot high stone wall with a rabbit in its mouth.
 

Jensmith

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Buzzards are lazy. Definitely a sparrowhawk if it's a bird of prey. Can't see a cat taking 3 though cats do get Blackbirds, especially at this time of year when they're sat on nests with their young. I've had several bad experiences with cats and Blackbirds and it's heartbreaking.
 

Lons

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We have a pair of sparrowhawks visit at least twice a day. Easy to tell when they are about as all the little birds suddenly disapear and the woodpecker just freezes on the nut feeder. Mainly they catch collared doves in my garden as they are too slow and thick to get out of the way, though I did see one catch a juvinile wren once.

If it's a cat which it could easily be then you're likey to find just a few feathers as the cat will carry off its prey. The hawk tends to do quite a bit of plucking first so there's usually a ring of feathers and often eats most of it as well so as said could be legs and bones left.

Interestingly, it can be difficult to chase a sparrowhawk off its prey and you can get close when it hisses at you and stares with an evil eye. Looking at the beak and tallons, it's better to back off imo :lol:

Bob
 

Mark A

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I don't know, but something decapitated my pet rabbit when I was 6 after it escaped from the hutch :(
 

woodbloke

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You'll know it's a cat if you find half of it's prey spread over your new green leather sofa :evil: - Rob
 

RogerS

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woodbloke":sy7qapuy said:
You'll know it's a cat if you find half of it's prey spread over your new green leather sofa :evil: - Rob
LOL..I can see where you are coming from but can assure you that that will never be the case here...pestilential creatures and the spawn of Satan!
 

Digit

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Unless they are feeding young, possible at this time Rog, Sprawks will eat at the kill site, cats normally carry them off to some where quiet.

Roy.
 

lincs1963

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Considered fox? They can jump higher and further than a cat, they make a mess where they kill the prey,ie feathers all over and then carry it off to eat. your 7 foot wall is no obstacle for a hungry fox.
 

RogerS

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lincs1963":bxo5bbg4 said:
Considered fox? They can jump higher and further than a cat, they make a mess where they kill the prey,ie feathers all over and then carry it off to eat. your 7 foot wall is no obstacle for a hungry fox.
I think that there would be a lot of plant damage, to be honest, so don't think it is a fox.
 

RogerS

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Damn sparrowhawk....that's four blackbirds we've lost now. I know it has to live and eat and all that....but couldn't it choose a big fat pigeon instead?
 

paulm

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Yep, we've lost a couple too, just a pile of feathers where they have plucked them.

Think the wood pigeons are a bit too big for them unfortunately, probably due to all the peas and other plants they keep eating in our veg garden !

Cheers, Paul
 

Paul Hannaby

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I saw a sparrowhawk eating a pidgeon in our garden a while back so they are obviously capable of catching birds that size.
 

Harbo

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Heard a loud racket this morning to see a Male Sparrowhawk clutching a squawking young Starling.
Tried to get a photo but when I moved in, he flew off with his prey.
Only seen one young Blackbird so far but lots of worm pulling up activity from males and females so maybe others.
So far seen several new Starlings (now one less!) Wrens, Dunnocks but this cold and very wet weather must be having a detrimental effect on their survival?
Lots of other birds at my feeders so probably many other youngsters keeping well hidden?

Rod
 

Lons

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As a twist to this thread:

I was working in the garden yesterday and I watched a kestrel hawking over my field where she stooped and caught a vole (I assume). To my shock I saw a large female sparrowhawk hit the kestrel just as she was lifting off. :shock: I've never heard of that but given that they take woodpigeons and a kestrel is smaller, why not I suppose.
There was no fight so I guess the impact of the strike killed or stunned the bird.
The sparrowhawk took about 20 minutes to eat the kestrel and left with the skeleton leaving just wings and tail feathers behind (which is how I identified it as a female).

Strange thing nature :?

Bob
 

Jacob

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Yesterday a sparrowhawk eating a pigeon just down the lane 20 yards from our door. I wouldn't have known it was there except for a great flock of crows circling and making a lot of noise, with several magpies in the hedge joining in shouting abuse. The hawk just kept pecking feathers off and occasionally staring up at the crows just make sure they weren't getting too close.
 
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