Sparrowhawk

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Sparrowhawk

Scientific name: Accipiter nisus
The Sparrowhawk is a small bird of prey that can be found in all kinds of habitats and often visits gardens looking for its prey - small birds like finches, tits and sparrows.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 33cm
Wingspan: 62cm
Weight: 150-260g
Average lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December

About

The Sparrowhawk is 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 Feral Pigeon. Sparrowhawks are excellent bird hunters, catching small species like finches, sparrows and tits; sometimes they ambush their prey from a perch, while other times they may fly low, suddenly changing direction to fool it.

How to identify

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

Distribution

Widespread, but absent from the far north of Scotland.

Did you know?

Female Sparrowhawks can be up to 25% larger than the males - the biggest size difference in any bird. Its thought that smaller males are more agile when hunting their small-bird prey.

How people can 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. To buy bird food, feeders and other wildlife products, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm that gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.