Tuesday, 6 April 2010
I was just sent an email from a falconer, who obviously does a great deal more on face book than I do. I am not sure I really like face book, it makes me uncomfortable and seems a little insistant. Whatever, this is a page called Save our Song Birds. Interestingly, very interestingly if you go to the various WebPages on it, those in charge of it and very vocal tend to be racing pigeon fanciers. Now racing pigeon people do not like birds of prey in any shape or form, those who are less responsible shoot or poison them, although I know there are also are many racing pigeon fans who do not. However if you look on this page, over half of the pictures are not song birds being eaten by Sparrowhawks, but instead racing pigeons. So firstly you need to ask yourself why is this a page called save our songbirds, perhaps it should be save our pigeons, and the question there is do you want more racing pigeons living in towns and cities, which is where they all came from in the first place. And you pay your council tax to clear up after them. Now this may make me unpopular with people who keep racing pigeons, but I suspect I am already, in fact I know I am, so what the hell. I don’t mind people complaining about things IF they are honest and accurate, but in this case and many others where raptors are concerned, it is not accurate.

Firstly Sparrowhawks are not killing all the song birds. This winter will have killed a large number of both Sparrowhawks and song birds, but the balance between Sparrowhawks and song birds is OK. The only reason you all see more Sparrowhawks is because the majority of song birds no longer live out in the farms and fields – any dog walker in the country with their eyes open, will tell you that. Nowadays the bulk of the small birds live in your gardens. This is because sadly farming is not suitable any longer for small birds and so very sensibly they have moved into gardens, particularly as a large number of us, my Centre included, feed them. So where the food goes, i.e. the small garden and song birds, the Sparrowhawks go. They are not increasing out of all proportion, they are just where the small birds are, and always have been, but now the small birds are in your garden, and you see them more. There is plenty of scientific proof of this if you care to look for it. However because people see Sparrowhawks catching and eating small birds (and pigeons!) they are convinced that this is the end of small birds.

Now your average cat - that is a very different story all together, cats account for approximately 300 million (yes that is three hundred million) small birds and mammals in the UK. And don’t forget your car – yes that would be you and your car – account for a whole ton more, as do your windows!

Lets look at some sensible figures, and please know that I know what a Sparrowhawk needs to eat, I have kept them for long enough. There are approximately 40,000 pairs of Sparrowhawks in the UK, that is 80,000 birds, so if each one ate two song birds per day, which would be enough food for most of them that puts the number killed 160,000, lets double that to be generous, that puts the number at 320,000, lets round that up to 500,000 for those who don’t like Sparrowhawks, so over estimating at half a million small birds. NOW, take that away from the three hundred million birds and mammals accounted for by the cats in the UK and that leaves a bit of a shortfall!! If we say that only half that number are birds (which is incorrect, but I am erring on the side of people who don’t like raptors). So that puts the cats at one hundred and fifty million five hundred thousand birds more than the sparrowhawks, hummmmmm I wonder which has more effect on the song birds..........

Oh, and there are nine million cats in the UK, which is eight million nine hundred and twenty thousand more than Sparrowhawks!! You have no idea how long it took me to work out those figures, my bloody calculator does not go up that high!

Back to pigeons, again if you look at the scientific studies birds of prey kill far less numbers of pigeons than are just simply lost – i.e. the bird gets lost and often dies on the way home. After all how many animals can you take 200 miles or more, let out and expect it to get home, not only home, but home in a certain time as well. If you tried it with any other animal you would be done under the abandonment of animals act!! Then add into the mix the number of pigeons that are culled (killed) by their owners because they are late, don’t come in on time and so on. It is a high number if they are honest with you. So my point is, complain if you are absolutely sure and have all the facts, otherwise, don’t be a hypocrite especially when you remove the comments put by others on your facebook! If you put your head above the parapet, expect to be shot down!

Its been a lovely day here, warm, sunny, a little windy but great for flying. Pinotage, the Egyptian Vulture was Brilliant!! Flew really high and circled, she looked wonderful. The Steppe Eagle who’s damn name I can never remember was also very exciting, also flew high and circled, but failed to land in our field!! Alexandria, the peregrine was excellent and so was Karis - Saker. And to end a nice day we released the common buzzard who came in last year. He refused to go!! Sat on the middle post until Adam picked him up on the only handy tool – a shovel handle, and then damn me off he flew and started to thermal!! The nerve of it, when he rarely got about about 15 feet while we were flying him for rehabilitation! Pretty good for an inexperienced bird though, we are hopeful he will make it.

Our bonfire party was good, all went to plan although I did not do a good job on the cooking and the sausage rolls were, hummmmmm how to describe them, well I think they were cooked, they were hot, but they were very soggy and rather off white!! However the rest of the food was OK, and the mulled wine went very quickly. It was a beautiful evening weather wise too. Here is hoping that the rest of the week goes as well as today.

4 comments:

Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre said...

Very well said Mima, I too have seen the "Facebook" page, obviously pigeon racers trying to gain public sympathy. The facts about birds, Sparrowhawks, and cats, are the very ones I use to illustrate the point. Well done, I have never been one for holding back eiither. Good luck with your season.

Stewart Robertson,
Loch Lomond.

wordhawk said...

Good for you Mima! People observe the sparrowhawk taking a songbird from a table and get very emotional about the 'cruelty' of it. Well, it's nature, face up to it. It is distressing but also amazing to witness the skill and beauty of these birds. They catch prey for food, to survive, it's their diet, they don't get fed Whiskas and treats - and they despatch almost instantly. A cat will often play with its catch and that can be very distressing to watch. I like cats and have had a few delightful moggies of my own but am very aware of the decimation they bring to the garden bird population.

Smile said...

Yes I am a pigeon fancier and yes there are plenty of birds that are not eaten by your so called birds of prey. However explain this then. If I was to let my dog into a farmers sheep field the farmer has the right to protect his sheep and can lawfully shoot the dog. If idiots like yourselfs had let's say a little dog or a cat and let it out to exercise and a buzzard came along and picked either up and flew off to eat it would the public be so forgiving or understanding. If a salmon fisheries is under attack from otters in Scotland what do you think they do? I will tell you what they want you to believe they catch the otters and re home them. Oh and by the way that's what you are told, they are actually trapped and killed. If a farmer gets TB on his farm what happens to the badgers in a two square mile of his farm. They are shot. If the RSPB were to stop interfering with the coarse of nature then there would be a correct balance and that is all we ask. It's no laughing matter when I let out my pigeons to exercise and watch the hawks kill for fun (which they do). Pigeon racing is a serious business with thousands of pounds being involoved in racing and selling of birds. It's not the money that most do the sport for its the enjoyment of breeding raising training racing the birds. Many pigeon fanciers take 10 to 20 years building up a strain of pigeons and to see them get taken by hawks is heartbreaking. RSPB stop removing the eggs from buzzards nests (which is illegal by the way) and replacing them with gos hawks eggs. RSPB stop killing eagle owls just because they kill sparrow hawks. If you had any idea what you were talking about then you probably wouldn't say anything. racing pigeons are not the reason for town pigeons they originated from rock doves and look nothing like pedigree racers. If humans were to clean up after them self's there would be no reason for these birds living in towns or city's. I appreciate many problems have come from us humans but let me remind you something. 75 years ago this and allied counties relied on passing messages through racing pigeons. Evan the D day landings were helped our by these remarkable birds. In FACT if it was not for a pigeon called bertie then the big bang could quite easily have happened here not Japan. So yes let's be honest and not scare monger. There are loads of birds of prey and it is a war between us pigeon fanciers and the RSPB and I along with most of pigeon men will carry on trapping shooting poisoning these beautiful birds.

Smile said...

Yes I am a pigeon fancier and yes there are plenty of birds that are not eaten by your so called birds of prey. However explain this then. If I was to let my dog into a farmers sheep field the farmer has the right to protect his sheep and can lawfully shoot the dog. If idiots like yourselfs had let's say a little dog or a cat and let it out to exercise and a buzzard came along and picked either up and flew off to eat it would the public be so forgiving or understanding. If a salmon fisheries is under attack from otters in Scotland what do you think they do? I will tell you what they want you to believe they catch the otters and re home them. Oh and by the way that's what you are told, they are actually trapped and killed. If a farmer gets TB on his farm what happens to the badgers in a two square mile of his farm. They are shot. If the RSPB were to stop interfering with the coarse of nature then there would be a correct balance and that is all we ask. It's no laughing matter when I let out my pigeons to exercise and watch the hawks kill for fun (which they do). Pigeon racing is a serious business with thousands of pounds being involoved in racing and selling of birds. It's not the money that most do the sport for its the enjoyment of breeding raising training racing the birds. Many pigeon fanciers take 10 to 20 years building up a strain of pigeons and to see them get taken by hawks is heartbreaking. RSPB stop removing the eggs from buzzards nests (which is illegal by the way) and replacing them with gos hawks eggs. RSPB stop killing eagle owls just because they kill sparrow hawks. If you had any idea what you were talking about then you probably wouldn't say anything. racing pigeons are not the reason for town pigeons they originated from rock doves and look nothing like pedigree racers. If humans were to clean up after them self's there would be no reason for these birds living in towns or city's. I appreciate many problems have come from us humans but let me remind you something. 75 years ago this and allied counties relied on passing messages through racing pigeons. Evan the D day landings were helped our by these remarkable birds. In FACT if it was not for a pigeon called bertie then the big bang could quite easily have happened here not Japan. So yes let's be honest and not scare monger. There are loads of birds of prey and it is a war between us pigeon fanciers and the RSPB and I along with most of pigeon men will carry on trapping shooting poisoning these beautiful birds.

Hello

I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

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An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHZGQ8i8AwI

HC

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