Predators, Furred And Feathered
Our Mrs. Blackbird has so far escaped the clutches of the sparrow hawk, but a couple of plump pigeons that I had my eye on have found their way on to the hawk’s menu and not mine. They are just about the biggest thing he could manage to catch. Once he has hit them they are too heavy to carry away so he has to pluck them where they land. He only bothers with the breast, which he picks completely clean. Nothing is wasted in nature though, and the fox then comes along and makes off with the rest. It’s always interesting to look at piles of loose feathers. If the fox was the perpetrator of crime the ends of the feathers are always slightly chewed and often some are still attached to bits of skin, but the sparrow hawk is very careful and never seems to damage the feathers, always pulling them away from the skin. Small birds, such as blue tits and great tits will be carried to a favourite perch, a tree stump or a fence post, and quite a few feathers can build up around these. I haven’t managed to find our hawk’s favourite spot yet, but he must have one somewhere.
This whole area seems to be full of foxes. We were woken at 4.30am yesterday by one screaming and panting right under our bedroom window. It used to be thought that they only made this terrible piercing noise in the breeding season when calling for a mate, but now we hear it at all times of the year. It certainly wakes one up with a start and makes the hairs on the back of ones neck stand on end! The vixens (female foxes) will be giving birth around the end of March, swelling the population still more. Watch out all those who keep poultry or rabbits!
Wendy BathurstTags: Wendy Bathurst