Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust

Promoting the British Countryside


About us Conservation Education Wildlife Habitats Maps Search Resources Sponsors


Sparrowhawk Watch
Summer 2002

05julye.jpg (48392 bytes)

Four of the five young sparrowhawks waiting for their mother to return with food.
The plumage is just beginning to appear through their downy coat



The Sparrowhawk Webcam for summer 2002 was a great success.   The webcam was set up just a few metres from a sparrowhawk nest, situated 16 metres up a Douglas fir tree at the Woodland Education Centre in East Devon, England.  Visitors to the Trust's webcam page followed the action in the nest live starting in late June. 

At this time,  the five young sparrowhawks were covered in down and sat close to each other in the centre of the nest.  The female was seen to return frequently with food for the rapidly growing youngsters.  She would break off small pieces of meat from the dead song birds she and her mate had caught and feed the morsels to each eager youngster with an open beak.   During a spell of very wet weather, the adult female was seen to sit over her chicks in an effort to keep them dry and warm.


08julyc.jpg (41676 bytes)
The adult female attempts to shelter some of her youngsters during a spell of very heavy rain


With an apparently plentiful food supply, the chicks developed rapidly and were soon competing for space in the nest.  Each bird grew at a similar rate and soon developed feathers starting with those on the wings and tail. 

The adult female continued to bring food to the nest, but it was left for the young birds to pick over for  themselves. By the end of the second week in July, the young birds were almost fully grown and moving out from the nest onto adjacent branches.  They were flapping their wings to exercise their flight muscles.   A rapidly growing pile of dead song bird remains attracted many flies to the nest, to the obvious annoyance of the sparrowhawks!


21julyh.jpg (58692 bytes)
The young birds spread out from the nest on to the adjacent branches,
giving them more space to exercise their wings

The female continued to bring food to the nest, but webcam views of the young birds became less frequent as they spent more time on adjacent branches. 


25julya.jpg (56648 bytes)

This image taken from the Trust's webcam shows a young sparrowhawk
almost fully grown with the remains of a dead song bird in its talons.  
The adult female was still returning to the nest with food for its
five young and they would pick over the carcasses with their sharp beaks


By late July the young birds had left the nest and could be seen flying around the nest site whilst uttering sharp screaming calls. 

Some of the best images from the webcam were captured and are displayed in chronological order in an image library.


The Trust acknowledges the support of Offwell Environment Link for donating additional equipment for the 2002 Sparrowhawk Webcam.