Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus


    Adult males have a slate grey back and white underparts, closely barred with orange. Females are larger, with brown upperparts, a white stripe over the eye and dark barring underneath.

    Identification difficulty

    Woodlands, along hedgerows and in parks and gardens.

    When to see it

    All year round

    Life History

    Their broad, rounded wings and long tail are adapted for flying between trunks and branches enabling them to weave in and out of trees at high speed to catch their prey of small birds. They often catch their prey by surprise, suddenly dashing over a hedge and frequently take birds from garden feeders. The breed in woodland trees, often using an old wood pigeon nest as a base.

    As with some other birds of prey, Sparrowhawks will often shield their prey with their wings from other predators - known as mantling.

    UK Status

    Widespread and fairly common in Britain

    VC55 Status

    Once rare as the population crashed due to DDT poisoning, the Sparrowhawk is now common and widespread and frequently seen in urban areas.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map