The Black Sparrowhawk

January 10th, 2013

A couple staying at our Farm Hotel had an unusual experience over the festive season, and wrote this story about what happened:

“Mark and I were walking back to our room in the very early evening when we noticed something on the ground under the big tree (near the first room on the right). At closer inspection we saw it was some sort of bird of prey lying on its back making gasping sounds. We hailed a staff member to assist, but as he approached the bird, it flew away. Mark and I watched it fly about 20 meters before crashing into the ground, and we thought we’d better do something. Mark ran into our room to get a towel to pick it up, while I watched over the bird. Mark knew to cover its face so it would not panic and then picked it up gently. We took the bird – having no clue as to what it was – to the front desk.”- Vicky Collins

Babylonstoren arranged for the bird to be taken to the Spier birds of prey rehabilitation centre, where they told us that Vicky and Mark had rescued a Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus).   The birdkeeper estimated the age of the bird as 3 years, and said that as it is mating season now, it would be important to get the bird back into nature as soon as possible.

He suspected that the bird had a broken ‘wishbone’ (just like a chicken’s wishbone), and did a full body survey to see what else might be wrong.

Good news arrived on the New Year’s Eve, when Spier’s birdkeeper let us know that our Black Sparrowhawk had made a full recovery and could be released back into the wild. What a way to end the year!

A few interesting facts (via Wikipedia):

  • Black Sparrowhawks are also known as Black Goshawks, and as Swartsperwer, in Afrikaans
  • They are the largest African member of genus Accipter, with a wingspan of  wingspan measuring 77–105 cm
  • In the Cape Peninsula, sparrowhawks face habitat competition with Egyptian geese, who steal their nests.

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