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Collared Sparrowhawk

Collared Sparrowhawk
In Queensland, Australia
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
(or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Accipiter
Species: A. cirrocephalus
Binomial name
Accipiter cirrocephalus
Vieillot, 1817

The Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus) is a small, slim bird of prey in the family Accipitridae found in Australia, and New Guinea and nearby smaller islands. As its name implies the Collared Sparrowhawk is a specialist in hunting small birds.It is characterised by its slight brow ridges and slender feet. The last segment of their middle toe projects beyond the claws of the other toes.


The collared sparrow hawk is 29-38cm (tail about half ),with a wingspan 55-78cm,the average male weighs 126g, female 218g[2]. They are a small, fierce, finely built with rounded wings, long square tail, yellow eyes and long legs.Adults have slate-grey upper parts, sometimes with a brown was, and a chestnut half collar. The underparts are finely barred rufous and white. The under wing and tail are finely barred. The cere is cream to olive-yellow, the eyes yellow and the legs and feet yellow[3].The sexes are similar in appearance but males are smaller than females. Juveniles have brown upper parts, with pale streaks on the head and nape, and fine rufous edges to the feathers of the back and wings[4]. The under parts are white with heavy brown streaks on the breast and coarse brown barring on the belly.the underwings and tail are finely barred. The crere is cream to greenish yellow, the eyes brown to pale yellow and legs and feet pale yellow[5].

Distribution and habitat

The Collared Sparrowhawk is widespread through mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea and is found in all habitats except the driest deserts. It can occasionally be seen in urban areas and even cities. Although widespread, they are generally uncommon. Collared Sparrowhawks are generally resident but may be partly migratory, however their movements are poorly known[6].


The collared sparrow hawk mainly eats small birds, a Crested Pigeon and a Spotted Bowerbird are the largest birds that sparrowhawks have been recorded taking[7]. They also sometimes catch insects, lizards and small mammals to eat. Sparrowhawks rely on stealth and surprise to catch their prey, hunting in flight or bursting from a concealed perch among foliage[8]. Most prey weighs less than a 100g and rarely over 200g. It forges by short-stay perch hunting from a concealed position in foliage, punctuated by short tree-to-tree, often undulating flights[9]. It also forges by low fast flight, sometimes hedge hopping. Prey is seized in flight by a direct flying attack or a stealthy glide.


The laying session is July to December. Pairs nest solitarily. The nest is a platform of sticks 27-32cm across, 12-15cm deep, lined with green leaves around 4-39m above ground in the fork of a living tree[10]. The clutch size is usually three or four eggs, ranging from two to five. Incubation takes 35, and the nesting period is about 28-33 days[11]. The period of dependence after fledging lasts up to 6 weeks, after which young disperse. Sexual maturity is reached at one year, with birds sometimes breeding in juvenile plumage[12].

File:Collared Sparrowhawk.ogg

Threats and conservation

The Collared Sparrowhawk is not globally or nationally threatened. It is wide spread and generally uncommon, but can be common in forests in the tropics and subtropics; it is also secretive and most likely under-recorded[13]. It has under gone declines in extensively cleared areas. The thickness of its egg shells was reduced by DDT use in Australia[14]. It is possibly affected in south-eastern Australia by the population increase of the Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina), a predator and competitor capable of robbing and injuring adults and killing nestling's [15].


External links

  • BirdLife Species Factsheet
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