Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

Jump to: Other Names Trends & Distribution Breeding & Survival Biometrics Books & Links

For details point at or click the button; for sources point at the button

Order: Accipitriformes Family: Accipitridae
BTO Codes: SH, SPARR EURING No: 2690
Number in Britain: 33 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: nisus recorded in Britain (of 7 subsp. in the world)
Length: 33 cm Wingspan: 62 cm Weight: M: 150 g   F: 260 g    
Scientific name from: L.: accipiter=hawk (from accipere=to grasp) and L.: nisus=the sparrowhawk
World Distribution: BREEDS: Europe, n&c Asia, WINTERS: south to n Africa & s Asia
Habitat: Wood & fields
Diet: Birds (Male to 100g, Female to 500g), attacks from cover, pursues for short distance
TitBit: The female is up to 25% larger than the male, the largest difference in any bird, and is thought to be because smaller males are more agile, so better hunters of birds, which they eat almost exclusively.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 33 thousand Pairs in 2009
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from early Holocene, up to 10,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: GREEN
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: nisus GREEN
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Common in: Deciduous Wood, Coniferous Wood
    Also found in: Scrub, Arable Farmland, Pasture Farmland, Villages
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
European Population Size:
    Summer: 180 to 270 thousand pairs   (Trend in Numbers)
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WBD(I*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), CITES(II)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Results from Garden BirdWatch

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 40 x 32 mm Egg Weight: 22.5 g (of which 8 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 125   (more would be welcome!)
Clutch Size: 4 - 5 eggs 4.55 ± 1.02 (2 - 9) N = 1407
Incubation: 33 days 33.16 ± 1.37 (30.5 - 36.5) N = 1407   by the: Female
Fledging: 27 - 31days 28.14 ± 3.27 (22 - 33.5) N = 2645 as: Altricial, downy
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data
First Clutches Laid: 11 May (30 Apr - 29 May)
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.690    (M:0.670 ; F:0.680 )      
Juvenile Survival: 0.340 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 4 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 17 years 1 months 11 days (set in 1999)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: D (males) E (females)
Wing Length Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 198.1 ± 6.7 190 - 207 mm, N =893
Female: 233.7 ± 7.5 224 - 245 mm, N =382
Weight Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 151.1 ± 16.41 131.0 - 180.0 g , N =681
Female: 266.0 ± 41.42 186.0 - 345.0 g , N =248
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Gaelic: Speireag Welsh: Gwalch Glas
Danish: Spurvehřg Dutch: Sperwer
Finnish: Varpushaukka French: Épervier d´Europe
German: Sperber Hungarian: Karvaly
Icelandic: Sparrhaukur Irish: Spioróg
Italian: Sparviere Norwegian: Spurvehauk
Polish: Krogulec zwyczajny Portuguese: Gaviăo da Europa
Spanish: Gavilán Swedish: Sparvhök

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Newton, I. 1986 The sparrowhawk Poyser, Calton [598.521 NEW]
   van den Burg, A.B. & Newton, I. 2003 BWP Update 5:1-12
   Newton, I. 1987 The Sparrowhawk Shire Publications, Princes Risborough [Jour: S]
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides