Fight to the death: Dramatic moment a sparrowhawk swoops on an unsuspecting starling

Last updated at 15:49 29 February 2008

This is the moment a sparrowhawk swoops on a starling before flying away with its prey gripped in its talons - captured by an amateur photographer in his back garden.

Retired Duncan Carrier, 79, grabbed his camera when he heard screeching and rushed outside to witness the brutal display of nature at work.

The sparrowhawk had the starling pinned down on its back as the helpless prey desperately fought to free itself.


The life and death struggle between the sparrowhawk and the starling begins

But after a ferocious battle lasting several minutes, the sparrowhawk emerged victorious - flying away with the lifeless starling clutched in its talons.

Mr Carrier, a former rubber factory machine operator, said: "It was an amazing sight - the starling put up quite a fight but he didn't stand a chance.

"I hope people don't think I'm cruel for taking the pictures. I can understand it might be distressing, but it's nature's course."

The drama unfolded at 9.15am last Friday morning at the bungalow which father-of-three Mr Carrier shares with wife Margaret, 74, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.


The sparrowhawk holds down the starling...

He explained: "I heard the commotion and dashed outside to see this bird with its catch. I had to go and fetch the camera, but I didn't want to miss it.

"I started taking pictures straight away and almost as soon as I did, the sparrowhawk cloaked its wings around the starling and turned its back on me.

"It flew off to another part of the garden while it got a grip on the smaller bird, then flew off over the fence. The whole thing must have lasted five minutes.

The sparrowhawk - Latin name Accipiter nisus - is a common sight across most parts of Britain.

Its prey extends to over 120 species of bird and it also feeds on small mammals.


...before flying away with its prey gripped in its talons

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