The following are feathers collected from around the sparrowhawk nest site at Craighouse.  Anyone like to suggest the original owners?  My guesses (based on the pictures on the Hunting page) below.

13th June

1 - black - blackbird

2-3 grey with a hint of blue - blue tit?

4-10 grey - great tit?

11-12 grey-brown with brown edge - house sparrow or dunnock


26th June

1 black - ?blackbird

2-11 grey - ?great tit

12-23 grey-brown plain - ?robin or dunnock

24-26 black with brown tips - ? quite distinctive, but no idea what they were

27-31 grey with pale trailing edge - ?great tit

32 grey with white spot - goldfinch tail feather

33 grey with white wedge - chaffinch tail feather

34 yellow-edged - goldfinch

35-40 brown - dunnock or robin


29th June

1-3 black - blackbird

4-14 grey - great tit and/or blue tit

15-25 grey-brown to brown - robin or dunnock

26-28 black with brown tip - ?

29-31 black with white at base or white wedge - chaffinch

32 yellow edge - goldfinch


3rd July

1-2 black with white base or wedge - chaffinch

3-4 black with white rectangle - goldfinch tail feathers

5 grey-brown with brown edge at tip - house sparrow or dunnock

6-10 grey - ? great tit/blue tit

11-16 brown - robin/dunnock

17-20 yellow-edged - goldfinch

21 light brown banded - sparrowhawk

and is this from the sparrowhawk?


prey feathers

a very good book is available which gives measurements of most sparrowhawk prey items.
(ISBN: 0713635231 / 0-7136-3523-1 )

i particuarly liked comparing prey items from nest to nest.
in one area we had prey items such as wheatear, meadow pipit, swallow, and lark. birds of open country. in another area we had blue tit, great tit, robin, woodpecker, etc, birds associated with woodland. brilliant find.

plucked feathers.

there is a very good book available which has most prey items one would expect to find at a sparrowhawk plucking post.
Tracks & Signs of the Birds of Britain and Europe
(ISBN: 0747002010 / 0-7470-0201-0 )
Brown, Roy.

in my experience each nest site has differing prey items in relation to the habitat surrounding the nesting area.
at one area we found feathrs from prey such as wheatear, meadow pipiit, swallow and lark. all open ground birds. at another we found mainly, blue tit, great tit, sparrow, and woodpecker.
birds associated with woodland.
it really is a fascinating thing to study the prey of these amazing birds.


I think you have most of these feathers correctly identified! There seems to be uncertainty with dunock and robin feathers. So far I have not identified dunnock in my sample so im unsure myself. It would be good to get a carcass of dunnock so that we can prepare a ref. collection. Have you had any interest from your students in carrying out a SH diet analysis. We have lots of pluckings labelled and dated to sites?
I think this is a Sparrowhawk pellet.  They are smaller than an owl pellet ( 25 to 35mm long x 10 to 18mm diameter), grey in colour with no bones obvious. SHs can digest bones not like owls.
Visited craighouse today and did not pick up any fresh signs of occupation. It was wet and windy though.