Species of the month: November - Sparrowhawk

Let us know if you've seen some on our form below


Scientific Name: Accipiter nisus

Identification: The sparrowhawk has rounded wings and a relatively long, narrow tail. Males are small with a blue-grey back and white underparts showing reddish-orange barring. Females are much larger, with browner plumage above and grey bars below. They both have reddish cheeks. Female sparrowhawks can be up to 25% larger than the males - the biggest size difference in any bird.

Diet: Sparrowhawks primarily feed on small birds, with the larger females occasionally predating larger birds such as wood pigeons.

Behaviour: What they lack in stamina, they make up for in extreme agility, and they often approach their prey closely and undetected. Sometimes they ambush their prey from a perch, while other times they may fly low, suddenly changing direction to fool it.


  • The sparrowhawk population crashed because of the use of pesticides like DDT, in the 1950s and 1960s, which causes a thinning of the egg shell that cannot then take the weight of the incubating female.

  • Sparrowhawks ensure that the populations of their prey are healthy by weeding out the sick or those with poor escape tactics.

Where can they be found?:

The sparrowhawk is widespread, but absent from the far north of Scotland.

Can be found in most habitats such as: grassland, heathland and moorland, farmland, woodland, and towns and gardens. If you’re lucky you may see one at a number of our reserves including:

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • Provide a water source
  • A woodland border can provide a place to nest for sparrowhawks.
  • Installing a perch or tree will encourage a sparrowhawk to hunt in the area
  • Population of birds of prey in an area can only survive if the food chain beneath it is in sufficient, so ensure your garden is a wildlife friendly habitat for other species that sparrowhawk predate.

Let us know if you've seen a Sparrowhawk below...

Your Sparrowhawk details
Please choose "other" and leave a number in the box below if more than 5 were seen.
We'd love to receive any extra information about what you saw.
Species of the month enews
Please tick to receive our monthly species of the month e-newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
In filling in this form and providing us with your email address you are consenting to us contacting you about your sighting.
Where appropriate we would like to pass on the details of your sighting to the Dorset Environmental Records Centre in order for it to be of use in local and national conservation projects. Please tick if you are happy for us to do this.
We will never give your information to any other organisation to use for their own purposes.
Wildlife Matters enews
Please tick to also receive Dorset Wildlife Trust's monthly e-newsletter about our conservation work and news.
  *Indicates a field you must enter.

Your details will only be used by Dorset Wildlife Trust and we will never give your information to other organisations to use for their own purposes.

You can change your communications preference at any time by contacting us on 01202 692033.

When you have completed the form, please click the Send Details button ONCE to send


home  |  Living Landscapes  |  Living Seas  |  Jobs  |  e-news  |  Contact & Find Us 

www.intergage.co.uk | Web site Content Management