Four of the five young
sparrowhawks waiting for their mother to return with food.
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.
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!
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.
This image taken from the
Trust's webcam shows a young sparrowhawk
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.