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The Sparrow Hawk is probably the raptor that most people are likely to see close up. Although mainly birds of open countryside and woodland they often frequent gardens, especially if home to a bird feeding station which attracts potential prey - as one of the photos shows.

Some of the images were taken in my garden which is frequently visited by both male and female Sparrow Hawks. The male is a little smaller than the female but despite this can catch birds as large as a collared dove and even has a go at woodpigeons. The latter are more frequently taken by females in my experience.

Sparrow Hawks often appear out of nowhere, swooping down on their unsuspecting prey and carrying them off to pluck and consume them. Those that frequent my garden seem completely unafraid of humans! They will often start to pluck their meal despite my approaching quite close, e.g. to take photographs, and their first reaction is usually to defend their catch against my taking it rather than flying off in alarm.

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