Year of 2017

A sparrowhawk in Kirkcudbright, Scotland

It’s not called a sparrowhawk because of its resemblance to sparrows, but because this bird of prey hunts sparrows, as well as starlings, wood pigeons, and other small birds. If that sounds harsh, the appearance of a Eurasian sparrowhawk on the edge of a wood doesn’t mean certain death for unsuspecting sparrows. The sparrowhawk succeeds in capturing its prey only about 10 percent of the time. To better its odds even more, a threatened sparrow may want to squawk like a parrot, particularly today, on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The Eurasian sparrowhawk, also known as the northern sparrowhawk or simply the sparrowhawk, is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. Adult male Eurasian sparrowhawks have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The female is up to 25% larger than the male – one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species. Though it is a predator which specialises in catching woodland birds, the Eurasian sparrowhawk can be found in any habitat and often hunts garden birds in towns and cities. Males tend to take smaller birds, including tits, finches, and sparrows; females catch primarily thrushes and starlings, but are capable of killing birds weighing 500 g or more.
Scientific name: Accipiter nisus
Biological classification: Species
Belongs to: Accipiter
Accnis Area Map
Range of A. nisus, Red: Breeding summer visitor range, Green: Resident year-round range, Blue: Non-breeding winter visitor range