Ireland's Birds of Prey - The Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawks are small raptors with rather short blunt tipped wings and long tails. Sparrowhawks prey upon a wide range of other birds, females tending to take larger birds. Birds eaten include thrushes, tits, woodpigeons, finches and, as the name would suggest, sparrows. This is in addition to a number of small mammals. It is not uncommon for several Sparrowhawks to hunt over the same piece of ground. As a species they are on the increase throughout Ireland, to the extent that they are now the most common bird of prey on the island, with approximately 11,000 breeding pairs. The Sparrowhawk's colouring is bluish black for the male and a brownish colour for the female. They hunt primarily along hedgerows where they are exponents of flying fast and low, threading their way between saplings and hedgerow shrubs but garden bird tables are a common hunting ground also. Sparrowhawks build their nest close to the trunk in coniferous trees or in deciduous trees or uses old nests. The lays 4-6 eggs in May, which incubate for a period of 31-33 days with chicks fledging after 26-30 days.