Friday, August 19, 2022

Plucking Post

There's a Sparrowhawk plucking post in a quiet corner of our garden. I realised that earlier in the week when tidying around the edges of the grass. 

Ten or more days ago I watched a Sparrowhawk carry its snatched-nearby Collared Dove into our garden and follow up on the strike. The hawk landed immediately behind the apple tree yards from a bedroom window, perhaps too close to the house for the hawk’s comfort. The hawk quickly despatched the meal, and once the dove stopped struggling the Sparrowhawk flew low across the garden to a quiet secluded corner where it could dismember its prey. 
The hawk finished its meal and left the garden after 30 minutes or so. It was when tidying the garden this week that I noticed the left over feathers from the earlier meal contained darker and fresher ones that I recognised as those of a Blackbird. So either the same or a different Sparrowhawk had returned to the exact same spot with its latest meal. 
A Quiet Corner

Plucking Post 

A “plucking post” is not necessarily a post, wooden or metal, but more simply a raised piece of ground or a tree stump used regularly by a bird of prey to dismember its prey, removing feathers and other inedible parts before eating it. The sometimes elevated nature of a post allows for a safer landing with the heavy load of the prey, as well as being a good vantage point to scan for other predators while the bird is vulnerable and involved in the relatively complex process of plucking and feeding upon its prey. 

Pellets composed of the indigestible items of the prey are often found on or around plucking posts. Plucking posts surrounded by feathers and fur may indicate that a raptor nesting site is nearby and may be mainly used during the breeding season. 

It has been suggested that faeces marks and plucking may represent a widespread method for communicating current reproduction and territory to other raptors in the same area. I do know that Sparrowhawks regularly nest a quarter of a mile away from home and that the species is frequently seen by me at least. 

I will leave the plucking post undisturbed, continue to watch for Sparrowhawks and whether one finds the quiet little corner of the garden again.  

The weather is a little windy today, as it has been most of the week. 

With luck there may be a ringing session soon. Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog. 

Linking this weekend to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni In Texas.


Mike Attwood said...

Another very interesting post Phil with an enchanting picture of the subject.
Take care.

Shiju Sugunan said...

The last pic is excellent! I like the hamfisted pose.

Anu said...

Hello Phil.
Interesting post. It is beautiful hawk.Great photos.

eileeninmd said...

Great post on your Sparrowhawk. The last photo is beautiful.
I hope your weather cooperates for your ringing.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting! And I like the way a hawk pulls one of his claws up into the feathers. When we first saw this, we thought something was wrong. We thought he had a deformed claw! But now we know! lol

Andree said...

I often see sparrowhawks, or what have been told to me to be them, on the wires when I drive here. But I've never been able to capture them. As soon as I slow the car, off they go. Your photos are my first look at one. Thank you.

Angie said...

Phil - a fascinating post, and I especially like the last photo!

RedPat said...

I watched a Coopers Hawk eating a pigeon this week. All that was left were a few feathers.

Andree said...

OK, I had forgotten you are not North America. Looked it up: the problem is with common names. Our sparrowhawk is Falco sparverius. Can be "large" like a dove or smaller like a bluejay. If I had been more observant this morning, I would have known that ours is not yours. :-)

Anni said...

Interesting. All I've seen in our yard are sparrows and doves. One time, the birds took off all at once and I noticed a huge shadow...a hawk on on the prowl overhead.

Phil, stellar images of the sparrowhawk. And educational narrative.
I dropped by once again to give my thanks for sharing and linking in at I'd Rather B Birdin

Linda said...

Interesting. Not the most pleasant part of birdwatching but quite natural.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

The sparrowhawk was interesting to learn about and your photos are so wonderfully detailed.

Raptors are such interesting birds! My blog post last week had some from my area that was rescued after an injury and cared for by a group for educational reasons. Many people seem to be afraid of hawks but like everything in nature, they do serve a purpose!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

thanks for the good explanation of bird behavior and the term plucking post. When you first said the word I was waiting for a photo of an upright stick.

Veronica Lee said...

Once again, I learned something new from your post.

Beautiful photos as always.

Happy Tuesday, Phil!

The Padre said...

And More Amazing Shots As Always - Sending Positive Vibes


Wally Jones said...

More education! My head hurts.

Superb photographs to illustrate the work of the Sparrowhawk.

Our local resident accipiter, the Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), regularly grabs Mourning or White-winged Dove from our yard. Having grown up in the rebellious colonies, however, they are not polite enough to retreat to a plucking post. Rather, they take delight in littering the ground around the bird feeder or bird bath with lovely feathers and not-so-lovely leftover carcass parts.

Gini and I hope the weather cooperates with your ringing plans!

Have a great week.

Rostrose said...

Dear Phil,
oh, what a handsome fellow! (If it is a "boy" at all and not a lady. You recognize my pronounced connoisseurship again ;-))
Anyhow, this Sparrowhawk is a beautiful bird and I'm happy for him/her that he/she has a quiet, sheltered spot in your yard to butcher and eat his prey in peace. I'm sorry for the blackbirds and doves, but that's nature...
All the best,
PS: OF COURSE I checked that the swifts were Common Swift as opposed to Pallid Swift? ;-D

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