Perils for garden birds: parts 1 and 2

Late summer each year, a sparrowhawk becomes a frequent visitor here.  The swallows and martins blithely chase the hawk chirruping loudly as they go, whilst  at ground level the other birds disappear into the hedges in the blink of an eye whenever anything hawk-like flies by.

Sparrowhawk, August 2014
Sparrowhawk, August 2014

Today the hawk sat long enough to capture a picture of it (her, I think).

Lately the local birds have a different kind of terror to contend with too. One of my neighbours has built a ladder trap and is finding his perverse pleasure in capturing and battering to death a diverse range of larger garden birds: doves, jackdaws, blackbirds, magpies. Although his use of the trap is illegal and has been reported, unsurprisingly the law enforcement agencies have little or no interest in doing anything about it:(

Two young jackdaws frantically try to escape from the cage trap.
Two young jackdaws frantically try to escape from the cage trap.

Red-headed house sparrow

Amongst the dozens of sparrows and their babies around at the moment, I keep spotting this one which has a bright orange head.

House sparrow with pollen-dyed head feathers
House sparrow with pollen-dyed head feathers

It looks quite funny, and I’m not sure what’s happened to it, but most likely (according to a quick Google) it has had its feathers dyed as a consequence of feeding on phormium flowers: the orange colour being phormium pollen.