›      ›   Besra - Accipiter virgatus.

The besra (Accipiter virgatus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These besra species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Taxonomy of Besra

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter virgatus
  • Common Name: Besra
  • French: Épervier besra; German: Besrasperber; Spanish: Gavilán besra;
  • Other names: Falco virgatus Temminck, 1822;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Temminck, 1822
Accipiter virgatus was earlier included in the genus Falco. It is closely related to A. gularis and A. fasciatus. The eleven recognized subspecies are: A. v. kashmiriensis Whistler, 1936, A. v. affinis Hodgson, 1836, A. v. fuscipectus Mees, 1970, A. v. besra Jerdon, 1839, A. v. abdulalii Mees, 1981, A. v. confusus E. J. O. Hartert, 1910, A. v. quagga Parkes, 1973, A. v. rufotibialis Sharpe, 1887, A. v. vanbemmeli Voous, 1950, A. v. virgatus (Temminck, 1822) and A. v. quinquefasciatus Mees, 1984.

Indian birds - Image of Besra - Accipiter virgatus
Indian birds - Image of Besra - Accipiter virgatus


The besra is a small bird of prey, measuring 25 to 35 cm in length and weighing 80 to 140 grams. The female is slightly larger and weighs 130 to 210 grams. The besra has short broad wings and a long tail. The underwings are barred. The upper parts of male are dark blue-grey and the underparts are whitish with reddish barring. The female is dark brown on the upper parts. The call is a loud 'ki-we' sound.


These species inhabit deciduous and evergreen forests, dense forests, savannah and cultivated lands.

Feeding habits

The besra feeds on large insects, small birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs.


The besra breeding season changes with the range and in the north India it is from March to June. They build nest in trees and the clutch is 2 to 5 eggs.


The besra species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, central and south China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Philippines.

Movement Patterns

The besra is a sedentary resident bird. The birds in Nepal and Himalayas may move southwards in winter.

Status and conservation

The besra global population is estimated to number 100,000 individual birds. These species have large range and population and are hence considered least vulnerable. The habitat loss due human activities is the main threat for the survival of these species of birds.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these sparrowhawk species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Accipiter virgatus
Species:A. virgatus
Binomial name:Accipiter virgatus
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and East Asia;
Feeding habits:small birds, small mammals, lizards and insects;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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