This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
No bird has a worse character among gamekeepers, poultry-breeders, and pigeon fanciers than this, for it takes young partridges, pheasants, hares and rabbits, chickens and pigeons, and is inconsistent with the game, poultry, and pigeon industries.
However, the forester, farmer (apart from poultry and pigeons), and gardener see no bird with higher qualities for killing mice and voles and insects, such as the cranefly, small birds, especially chaffinches, green linnets, blackbirds, thrushes, and wood-pigeons, and in these respects is invaluable, as, according to W. Swaysland, a sparrow-hawk destroys on an average three birds per day, and this gives a total of over 2,000 birds annually for every pair of sparrow-hawks. But what of the titmice, wrens, and other more or less insectivorous and weed-seed destroying birds! Surely in this respect the sparrow-hawk is injurious! Though called sparrow-hawk, how many sparrows does it destroy, and to what extent is its presence beneficial in scaring birds off ripening corn?
The sparrow-hawk, all points considered, has no place in cultural utility, and in the interests of the game-preserver and poultry-farmer, also pigeon-breeder, must be kept within bounds if these highly desirable pursuits are to be followed successfully in the be t interests of the nation, alike from the standpoints of pleasure and of food.
Though the sparrow-hawk is most destructive during wingedgame rearing time and also to chickens at the nesting period, when the birds are readily shot, it is ever prone to swoop down upon pigeons and young poultry, on or about dovecotes, in stack-yards and poultry-yards, and upon game, when the gun has little chance of being effective; therefore recourse is had, albeit illegal, to trapping.
Fig. 115. - Hawk or Pole Trap.
The trap usually employed for the sparrow-hawk is circular, 4 to 6 in. in diameter and made with or without teeth; there is also a humane hawk-trap of which the rasped jaws are protected with india-rubber for catching the bird alive without injuring it. The trap is placed on a pole standing about 6 ft. out of the ground and firmly fixed upright, placing 2 ft. in the earth, selecting a place over which the hawk beats frequently. A small bird or piece of meat is secured by fine wire on the plate as bait, and the hawk seeing it, swoops about, and after sundry feigned darts makes a full venture and is caught. Fluttering and screeching ensues, the trap, secured to the pole, falls and the hawk dangles in the air.