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Pluvialis on Sparrowhawks

For me, the highlight of today was coming across this:

Wild sparrowhawks kill birds in gardens.  My garden.  Out on the flagstones, occasionally, I find tiny fragments: a little, insect-like passerine leg, with a foot clenched tight where the sinews have pulled it; or—even more gruesomely—a disarticulated beak, a house-sparrow beak top, or bottom, a little conical bead of blushed gunmetal, slightly translucent, with a few faint maxillar feathers adhering to it.

Many people hate sparrowhawks for this.  Some get upset.  Some get upset and angry.  Strange groups declare war on sparrowhawks, consider them the cause of songbird decline.  I think this is nonsense.  Science thinks this is nonsense.  What drives sparrowhawk-haters is moral outrage.  A decade of tv makeover programmes has transformed old-style lawns and vegetable plots bustling with sparrows into value-added outdoor rooms with decking, turkey-heaters and designer tulips.  I tried hard to make that a neutral statement, but I just couldn’t do it.  I like messy gardens.  Birds do too.

The moral landscape of your house extends outside to such spaces.  So when a sparrowhawk tussles with a blackbird on your decking you’re pretty much witnessing murder on the living room floor.  And oh, the pang when you realise that your bird table is why sparrowhawks visit your garden dawn and dusk; you have created a sparrowhawk table!  An accessory to murder!

Now go and read the whole thing here.

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