Sparrowhawk Breakfast and the End of a Starling

Sunday morning, 7.30am and the rooks are circling like thugs at the start of a fight.  A high-pitched shrieking seems odd, but the local birds have been vying for the ladies attention for the last few days so it was nothing unusual.  Being the nerd that I am I decided to grab my camera.  

The jackdaws were also circling, sitting on the telegraph wires they were well away from their usual haunt in the eucalyptus nearby.  

As I stepped out a sparrowhawk was brawling on the driveway with a starling.  Like two males on a Saturday night they were rolling and shouting.  All the while the jackdaws were jeering and egging the battle on.  

My surprise at seeing them gave the starling a moment's reprieve. The sparrowhawk sat on the fence, eying me up.  I know he was miffed at my interference and the potential loss of his breakfast.

Sparrowhawk 1 - Starling 0

However, after a few moments he was back to his mission and this time taking breakfast down to the brook at the end of the garden.  This is where I began to wonder what would happen next. Hidden behind the bin in my dressing gown I watched the slow demise of the starling.  Goodness knows what the neighbours where thinking I was up to.  

The sparrowhawk sat on him.  The starling was totally submerged in the freezing water of the brook.  Every so often with the skill of a pro, he released the pressure, quickly reapplying the pressure  as the starling started to struggle for his last breath each time.  Eventually the sparrowhawk won the battle and after ensuring the starling was no more, he sauntered away with his breakfast.

Once he had gone, I realised how silent the small birds had been, the usual chatter at this time of the morning had been missing and it wasn't until they started to emerge from their safe watch that I noticed their absence.  


This series was taken with my Canon 70D and Canon 70-300mm lens handheld.  I didn't have time to think about a tripod and so ISO was high to give a fast shutter speed in the low morning light.

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