We ring the Black Sparrowhawks in the hope that we will be able to follow their lives. Unfortunately, quite often it means following their deaths.
It is very important that we know what happens to the birds we have ringed. We have had birds hit by cars, killed in fights for territories and even ones that have been shot. Probably the most common is, however, to have them fly into windows or walls while chasing their prey.
Just such a case happened to a female Black Sparrowhawk that we had ringed in Cecilia Forest in 2008. In April 2012 someone in Bishops Court called to say that a Black Sparrowhawk had killed herself flying into a window. If you look at the left picture above you will notice that the bird has dark red eyes. That would make her about 4 years old, so at the time of hear death she was probable 8 years old.
Luckily I was phoned almost immediately that it had happened, and I was able to collect the body within an hour or two of the bird’s death. That meant that I could still collect a blood sample. At the time when we ringed her we were not collecting blood for DNA analysis, so this was a real bonus.
Being able to examine a bird as fresh of this, so soon after death, gave us a good idea how the bird was coping with life before the accident. In this case the bird was in peak condition. She had had a mass of 825 g when we trapped her in 2008, but now, with the build up to the breeding season, she weighed 1020 g. Her plumage was immaculate and even her talons looked in mint condition. It is really sad that she had died, but up until the point of impact this was a bird was as about perfect as any wild animal can be.