GC: n

S: Rspb – (last access: 3 January 2023); WildlifeT – (last access: 3 January 2023).

N: 1. hawk that preys on small birds, c. 1400, replacing forms from Old English spearhafoc; see sparrow + hawk (n.).

2. sparrowhawk, any of various small birds of prey usually of the genus Accipiter (family Accipitridae), classified with the goshawks as “accipiters,” or true hawks. They eat small birds such as sparrows, small mammals, and insects.

3. The African little sparrowhawk (A. minullus), slate gray above with white tail bars, barred white below, inhabits woods of East and South Africa. The Eurasian sparrowhawk (A. nisus), dark gray above and brown barred white below, is a common inhabitant of wooded areas throughout Europe, in coastal northwestern Africa, and in temperate to sub-Arctic forests of Asia. The Levant sparrowhawk, or shikra (A. brevipes), is gray above and brown barred white below. It occurs from southeastern Europe throughout most of continental southern Asia and subequatorial Africa. For the small falcon called sparrow hawk in the United States, see kestrel.

4. The Eurasian sparrowhawk is the bird of prey most likely to visit gardens, but it is unobtrusive and can be difficult to spot. It can hunt birds in confined spaces and is known to prey on around 120 different species including thrushes, starlings, and even pigeons. It is an agile bird that flies fast and low with few wing-beats to remain hidden from its prey for as long as possible. During breeding season, the male will perform deep, undulating flight displays accompanied by high-pitched cackling.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 3 January 2023). 2&3. EncBrit – (last access: 3 January 2023). 4. Birdspot – (last access: 3 January 2023).


CR: lovebird, merlin.