The Eurasian Sparrowhawk

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk

The Common Quail

Appearance and Behaviour

Length: 28-38 cm (11-15 inches); male wing: 203 mm – 9 inches (196-213 mm / 7-8 inches), female wing: 240 mm – 9 inches (231-257 mm / 9-10 inches); wingspan: 55-70 cm (21-27 inches); male tail (149 mm / 6 inches) (143-157 / 5-6 inches), female tail: 180 mm / 7 inches (169-185 / 6-7 inches); beak: 13 mm / 0.51 inches. Male weight 144 g (110-197), female weight 264 (184-343).

Male: bluish gray on the top of head, back, wing and tail; whitish throat, whitish cheeks and belly, strongly striped by horizontal ginger spots.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (female)

Female: gray-brown on the dorsal part of the body; whitish on the abdominal part with gray-brown horizontal bars, yellow legs and talons; yellow iris; black pupil; black gray beak at the tip; horn (colour) at the base.

Longer, more dynamic, higher on leg level too, but hardly larger than a dove for the male, and barely reaching the size of a city pigeon for the female, the hawk is surprisingly small. Taciturn, he only lets his voice be heard during nesting season, changing from nervous screams to slow sounds depending on the mood, and the alarm emitted around the area, summarizing all the vocal manifestations. The top of a large tree is mainly the perfect roost to settle for the hawks. This territory must also offer as a hunting area a tight mixture of groves, hedges and clearings.

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk's sound sample

Food

Rightly feared by the avifauna of woods and fields, the hawk feeds 94% on birds, sparrows, thrushes, larks and finches – that is to say the most famous species which represent about half of this total. These Rodents provide generally the necessary supplement.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk’s eggs

Reproduction

It is from mid-March, and until the first days of May, that hawks lift the veil on the mystery surrounding their daily lives. No longer afraid of being watched, they finally emerge from the shadows. Male and female then indulge in gliding flights. The nest is built quite high, even very high, below the top of a large tree, usually near the trunk or on top of main branches, with a special preference for conifers.

It is in the second half of May that the female lays her 4 to 6 eggs, rather oblong, and are laid 2 or 3 days apart. White in colour shaded with pale green speckled with brown, ocher and purplish gray. Medium size of the eggs: 32 X 40 mm (1.25 x 1.75 inches); weight: 23 g. Incubation begins at the end of the last laid egg, and lasts 33 to 35 days. It is provided by the female alone. A good hunter, the father never intervenes in the stripping or distribution of prey.

The young hawks leave the nest between 24 and 30 days, the young males earlier than the female ones. They are independent a month and a half later.

Migration

If the hawks of the temperate regions of Europe are practically sedentary or content themselves with a simple winter dispersal, the young ones and those of the north and the east begin in September a migratory movement towards the south and the southwest. Many birds thus cross the Mediterranean to reach northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). Loath to the vast expanses of the sea, many use the Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco) and Cape Bon (Tunisia) both during spring and fall movements.

Distribution

As accipter nisus (l.), The Eurasian Sparrowhawk breeds from Spain to the Great Siberian Plain, with the nesting limit in Scandinavia which means 70° N. Other species are known as far as in Kamchatka, in the Himalayas, in Asia Minor, in Corsica, in Sardinia and as well as in northwestern Africa and the Canary Islands.

A final word

We hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of birds. For more articles retated to  Ornithology in specific or animals in general please visit our Animal Category.

Recent Articles