If you operate a winter bird feeder, you can easily make beautiful and interesting nature observations from the window. For this reason I also feed, and not because I expect it to have a nature conservation effect. Many of our endangered birds aren’t there in winter anyway. They are in the warm south and would not come to the bird feeder in the garden even if they were fed in summer.
However, there are species that come to the feeding ground not because of the sunflower seeds, but because of the small birds that want to eat them. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) should be mentioned here, which regularly appears in villages and at farms in winter and prey on them. So also at my feeding place.
This feeding place consists of a small house that I place on a crossbeam on a fruit tree and provide this with sunflower seeds. The birds can simply drop from the lowest branch of a tree nearby onto the table in front of the house. Most frequent guests are Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris), Great Tit (Parus major), Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris), Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), many House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) and one or the other Coal Tit (Periparus ater). I enjoy sitting at the window with the last cup of coffee from breakfast and looking out at the newspaper again and again and enjoying the hustle and bustle at the feeding place. The binoculars are always close at hand anyway.
One day last winter, I was once again sitting at my window and now and then watching the Sparrows that were sitting by the dozen in the bird feeder and cracking seeds. Suddenly a brown shadow whizzes along the lilac in front of the kitchen window. At first I think of an optical illusion. Then something brownish comes flying out from behind the box tree hedges (Buxus sp.), circles around a bush and the bird feeder a few times, and finally lands on a tripod that is supposed to help anchor a young apple tree. It is a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk sitting on the crossbar. Although the kitchen window is only 4 meters away, the Eurasian Sparrowhawk allows itself a rest first. It scared away the songbirds. But the Eurasian Sparrowhawk probably wasn’t really interested in chasing them either.
One day I’m sitting at my window again. Suddenly the songbirds scattered again. All but one disappear. It’s a House Sparrow. The victim lies with his back on the tripod and fights for his life. Another male Eurasian Sparrowhawk. It stands on the small bird with both fangs and presses his dagger-like claws into his chest with kneading movements. A remarkable contrast: to look at the small bird of prey with the sulfur-yellow eyes and the reddish-tinged chest during this massacre. After a few seconds the House Sparrow is dead. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk flies away with its prey over the box hedge and sits on a thick branch in the first orchard, an old plum tree. Now it starts to feed. I can see all the details through the binoculars. The male Sparrowhawk begins, he plucks the large plumage and the small plumage without haze and then eats the prey in bits and pieces. It backs up again and again in between. Food intake takes a good quarter of an hour. Finally the male Eurasian Sparrowhawk flies away with a bulging goiter.
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