Eurasian sparrowhawk

   ›      ›   Eurasian sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus.

The Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These Eurasian sparrowhawk species are distributed in Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent and Africa.

Taxonomy of Eurasian sparrowhawk

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter nisus
  • Common Name: Eurasian sparrowhawk
  • French: Épervier d’Europe; German: Sperber; Spanish: Gavilán común;
  • Other names: Falco Nisus Linnaeus, 1758; Northern sparrowhawk;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Accipiter nisus was earlier included in the genus Falco. It is closely related to A. rufiventris, A. striatus and A. ovampensis. The six recognized subspecies are: A. n. nisus (Linnaeus, 1758), A. n. nisosimilis (Tickell, 1833), A. n. melaschistos A. O. Hume, 1869, A. n. wolterstorffi O. Kleinschmidt, 1901, A. n. granti Sharpe, 1890 and A. n. punicus Erlanger, 1897.

Indian birds - Image of Eurasian sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Indian birds - Image of Eurasian sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus


The Eurasian sparrowhawk is a small bird of prey, measuring 30 to 40 cm and weighing 100 to 200 grams. The female sparrowhawk is much larger than male and weighs 180 to 350 grams. The wingspan is 60 to 80 cm. Adult males have bluish grey upper parts, reddish cheeks and flanks and orange-barred underparts. The females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The iris are yellow in immature males and are orange-yellow or orange-red in adult sparrowhawks. Their call is a a series of "kek-kek" sounds.


The Eurasian sparrowhawk inhabit the edges of wooded areas and forests interspersed with open areas. The migrant sparrowhawks can be seen in any habitat, including urban areas and cities.

Feeding habits

The Eurasian sparrowhawk feed on birds and small mammals. It hunts by surprise attack from a perch.


The Eurasian sparrowhawk breeding season is from April to June. The nest is built on a tree in the lower canopy with twigs, mostly by the male. The nest is lined with small twigs. Usually a clutch of four or five eggs is laid. The females incubates the eggs and the male sparrowhawk hunts and feeds the female and chicks.


The Eurasian sparrowhawk are distributed in Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent and Africa.

Movement Patterns

The northernmost populations may move southwards during July and November, returning between March and June. The birds further south in Asia and Africa tend to be resident or dispersive.

Status and conservation

The Eurasian sparrowhawk global population is estimated to number more than 1,500,000 individual birds. These species of sparrowhawks have an extremely large range and population and are considered least vulnerable. Widespread persecution, use of harmful organochlorine pesticides, trapping by falconers, wind energy farms and habitat loss are the major threats 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 nisus
Species:A. nisus
Binomial name:Accipiter nisus
Distribution:Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent, Africa;
Feeding habits:small birds, small mammals, lizards and insects;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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