Death in the garden: when sparrowhawks attack

Bird of prey drops into north Dublin back garden for an al fresco lunch

Nature in all its glory and gory detail was in evidence as a sparrowhawk dropped into a north Dublin back garden for an al fresco lunch.

"I was working in the office upstairs last Friday and came down to the kitchen to make lunch," says Mark Roantree, the owner of the house in the Kempton estate, Navan Road. "Through the French windows, I saw a bird of prey - I later found out to be a sparrowhawk - capture a smaller bird, probably a thrush. I grabbed my camera (Canon EOS 650D Digital SLR) to take some photos. The sparrowhawk was right outside and as a result, I was able to get very close. It did not appear to be able to see me.

“As I was taking the pictures, it began to pluck the bird’s feathers before I presume it would proceed to eat the bird. As I didn’t want the carcass in my back garden, I opened the door. I had expected the sparrowhawk to fly off without the bird, but it effortlessly held on to the thrush as it left.”

The sparrowhawk is common in Ireland, and is widespread in woodland, farmland with woods, larger parks and gardens. They venture into urban gardens, where small birds attracted to bird feeders are taken, much to some peoples distress.