The diet of sparrowhawks

Robin.  Photo Colin LeggWood pigeon.  Photo Colin Legg

The largest bird a Sparrowhawk can catch is a Wood pigeon, and only the female can catch prey that is this big as she is bigger and stronger than the male. Sparrowhawks specialise in catching small birds, such as the songbirds you see in your garden. Sparrowhawks aren’t fussy and will hunt birds that are available and easy to catch. This usually means birds that are old, poorly or injured get caught before others. This is a good thing as these birds would have died anyway and the birds that survive are strong and healthy so they will be more likely to have chicks to keep their population going. In the summer Sparrowhawks eat a lot of young songbirds as there are lots of fledglings about which are easy to catch.

Sparrowhawk pellets.  Photo Mike Thornton.

Indigestible material like feathers and some bones are coughed up as a pellet like the ones above.