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Colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden

A male Black Sparrowhawk chick was ringed at Cecilia Forest on 18 August 2008 © Ann Koeslag

Ten months later on 11 June 2009, the same Black Sparrowhawk was seen in the Pine tree at the Birding Africa office, about 15 km from where it had fledged! © Callan Cohen

Raptor research at the University of Cape Town uses this sighting to learn more about Black Sparrowhawk biology © Callan Cohen

A sub-adult male Black Sparrowhawk visited the garden on the morning of the 11 June 2009. These photos show the unique colour-ring combination, allowing Ann Koeslag of the Western Cape Raptor Research Group to confirm the bird was ringed as nestling in Cecilia Forest on the lower slopes of Table Mountain on 18 August 2008.

Black Sparrowhawks regularly visit the Birding Africa garden, often using the large pine tree as a feeding perch.

A Booted Eagle has visited the pine tree three times, while African Goshawk and Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk are irregular. Peregrine Falcon are seen almost weekly but tend to overfly.


Ann Koeslag, of the Western Cape Raptor Research Group, who has now been involved with ringing 130 Black Sparrawhawks, follows up:

"Fledglings hang around their nest for ages after fledging. We have had a father and son hunting together three km from the nest, four months after the chick fledged. The chicks have to be taught to hunt, which is a skill that takes the parents some time to pass on. So we are never too surprised to see ringed fledglings around their territory for the first three months.

I am collecting all the sightings of both adults and juveniles that I have, to put in a data base, and it is not a lot. One of the
interesting things is some birds are seen regularly while others are never seen again. There is one male who was ringed as a chick in De Hel, Constantia in 2006 who crops up on and off in Marina da Gama and Lakeside. The male who resides in Lower Tokai Forest also crops up all over the place.

Probably the sweetest resighting I have is at Cecilia Forest South, where the bird you found in your garden came from. The female there had been one of the birds we ringed in Bel Ombre Greenbelt. She and her mate disappeared from that territory and she then reappeared a year later at the Cecilia Forest nest with a new mate. (Father of the bird that visited the Birding Africa garden). This year her original mate has found her and they're back together again as a pair.

They really are like people with their relationships. There is
everything from death, infidelity and divorce. I was at the one of the Newlands nests a few months ago and the male was in the nest doing some building. The female was sitting about 40 metres away when she suddenly took off and flew off to the edge of the stand, about 120 metres away. Suddenly we could hear mating noises. A little while later she arrived back to see how the nest was progressing. I would love to do paternity testing on their offspring."

How you can help

Look out for nests - read here how to find a nest.

To find our more and to assist with the project, please contact Ann Koeslag on

For more info on the raptor research programme, please visit

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders.  We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent.  We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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