Sparrowhawks seem significantly fewer in number this year

It’s been a year of mixed fortunes for Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), with the highest recorded average counts in gardens in January 2016 followed by the lowest-ever numbers for December, as reported by the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch survey. Sparrowhawks are not always popular in gardens as they feed on other more popular garden birds. The species' population crashed in the 1950s and 1960s due to pesticide poisoning, but numbers have since recovered and they are the bird of prey most commonly seen in gardens. BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer Claire Boothby said: “The surprise appearance of a Sparrowhawk is always a dramatic garden event and one that has been witnessed by fewer people than usual this winter. Sparrowhawks rely on the availability of prey, particularly birds, to survive. We know that numbers of Great Tits and Blue Tits are down in gardens this year following a poor breeding season, and this may have had an effect on the number of Sparrowhawks seen in gardens.”

Source: Birdwatch, 28 Feb 2017