They have something of a bad name, sparrowhawks. I blame Ian Botham. I know that may sound odd, but Google – Ian Botham sparrowhawk – and see what you find. He has been quite busy since his cricket days, chucking ideas about that are (and for legal reasons I would like to point out, in my opinion) not especially scientific. The Daily Mail (arguably) amplified his (and again, I would like to point out this is purely my opinion) weapons-grade bollocks on the subject of songbirds and birds of prey and the interactions between the two, by publishing stories about how he was threatening to sue the RSPB and stuff like that.
His (in my opinion) misguided You Forgot The Birds campaign with its (in my opinion) tragic website is mostly forgotten now but the simmering hatred for sparrowhawks he implanted in the national consciousness lives on. The sad irony of course is that if he hadn’t started a hate campaign against sparrowhawks they wouldn’t have ended up barred from McDonald’s and they could have just bought chicken nuggets like everyone else instead of catching and then tearing apart greenfinches in people’s gardens, which is what they have to do now.
But enough sparrowhawk politics. What do they actually look like…
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
- Did something just appear out of nowhere and wham into a greenfinch?
- Is that something now sitting on a fence eating that greenfinch?
- Is it a bit stripy on the front?
- Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
- Because I’m thinking sparrowhawk.
I know what else you are thinking. You are thinking, what about those goshawks I have been hearing so much about? Could it have been one of them?
No. No it couldn’t. I’m sorry, but just no.