With the sensational and unexpected news today that Sparrowhawks and other raptors do not in the main lead to long-term declines in passerine populations, the supporters of anti-Sparrowhawk charity Songbird Survival are left scratching their heads and wondering what else they can blame Sparrowhawks for instead.
"Personally, I think they're to blame for absolutely everything what's wrong in the world," said Enid Felcher, a Songbird Survival sympathiser and passionate feeder of the little Bobby Robin who's been coming to her garden for the past 25 years. "When I were a girl, you never saw a Sparrowhawk apart from nailed to a fence. And there were lots of beautiful little birds everywhere, singing their dear little hearts out. You couldn't get bananas, and that Mr Hitler's bombers kept us on our toes for a while, but at least there were plenty of plucky feathered friends to keep our spirits up.
"Nowadays it's all funny weather, them Muslin fanatics blowing things up, strawberries at the wrong time of year, and they've even put a black man in the White House I hear. Goodness knows what the world's coming to. My poor Harold would turn in his grave. And you know what? It was those Sparrowhawks what done it. Everywhere now, like a bleeding plague!"
Professor Tom Logan, an ecologist from the Institute for Studies said, "It's fucking hilarious. Songbird Survival must have genuinely believed that by co-funding this study they would finally have a piece of serious research they could use to lobby for the right to control Sparrowhawks, and perhaps the odd grouse-chick munching Hen Harrier too. And fuck me if the study hasn't said almost the very opposite, and found that there were "a large number of positive associations between predators and prey, which largely exonerates these predators as driving declines in passerine numbers." I laughed so much I did a little wee in my pants.
"Still, the study does hint that there may be a causal link between Sparrhawks and the decline in Tree Sparrows, so they've still got that to go for. Mind you, it'll be a right bugger to shift several thousand redundant Songbird Survival-branded pieces of merchandise when they rename themselves Tree Sparrow Survival. There'll be some bargains to be had at their stand at the Royal Norfolk Show this year. I can't wait to buy some cheap pens."