Species of the month: November - Sparrowhawk

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

sparrowhawk-2BIG-credit

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.
 

 

Factoid
  • 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
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