Accipiter nisus


Sparrowhawks are one of our smallest birds of prey, the male being somewhere between a blackbird and a collared dove in size. The female is larger, up to the size of a pigeon. Sparrowhawks are excellent bird-hunters, catching small species like finches, sparrows and tits using a mixture of methods that include ambushing prey from a perch or flying low and suddenly changing direction.

How to identify

Sparrowhawks have rounded wings and a relatively long, narrow tail. Males are small with a blue-grey back and white underparts showing reddish-orange barring. The female is much larger with browner plumage above and grey bars below. They both have reddish cheeks.

Where to find it

A common, diurnal raptor, sparrowhawks are found almost everywhere except the far north of Scotland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Accipiter nisus
Birds of prey
Length: 28-40cm Wingspan: 62cm Weight: 150-260g Average Lifespan: 4 years
Conservation status
Common. Listed under CITES Appendix II.