Sparrow hawks hunt insects, mammals, birds and reptiles
A pigeon fancier has admitted running over a sparrowhawk with his car when he saw it trying to kill a pigeon.
Jonathan Watson, 19, from Llanrwst, Conwy, north Wales, killed the bird of prey in the car park of a Pizza Hut in Llandudno Junction in September 2002.
At Llandudno magistrates' court, Watson pleaded guilty to killing the bird.
He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £120 costs.
Duncan McNiven, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said it showed how seriously the police and courts were taking such cases.
Of Watson, he said: "He's a self-confessed pigeon fancier and used to own racing pigeons and I think that he just saw the opportunity
"He saw a sparrowhawk on the ground. By his own admission he had seen sparrow hawks in the past take some of his pigeons and he just took the opportunity and mowed the bird down."
Mr McNiven said the problem of birds of prey being deliberately killed was widespread, particularly in Wales, and especially with peregrine falcons.
"We have to mount 24-hour guards on some of our nesting peregrine pairs."
"We believe that most of the problems are to do with pigeon fanciers deliberately poisoning peregrines which they believe are taking their racing pigeons."
"Mostly what we find with pigeon fanciers is that they will deliberately set poisoned baits near the nests of birds of prey, like peregrine falcons, for example.
"We have frequently come across instances where live pigeons have been smeared with poison and left tethered near the cliff nest sites of peregrine falcons."
Another RSPB official, Sian Williams, said sparrow hawks, like all birds of prey, were "natural predators" which hunted pigeons.