Female Eurasian sparrowhawk taking a dip, Jaipur

Female Eurasian sparrowhawk taking a dip, Jaipur

Female Eurasian sparrowhawk taking a dip, Jaipur

The Eurasian sparrowhawk, also known as the northern sparrowhawk or simply the sparrowhawk, is a small bird of prey. The female sparrowhawk is seen here taking a splash in water at the end of a hot winter day. Adult male  have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The female is up to 25% larger than the male – one of the greatest size differences between the sexes in any bird species. Though it is a predator which specialises in catching woodland birds, the Eurasian sparrowhawk can be found in any habitat and often hunts garden birds in towns and cities. Males tend to take smaller birds, including tits, finches, and sparrows.

The Eurasian sparrowhawk is found throughout the temperate and subtropical parts of the Old World; while birds from the northern parts of the range migrate south for winter, their southern counterparts remain resident or make dispersive movements. Eurasian sparrowhawks breed in suitable woodland of any type, with the nest, measuring up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) across, built using twigs in a tree. Four or five pale blue, brown-spotted eggs are laid; the success of the breeding attempt is dependent on the female maintaining a high weight while the male brings her food. This species is prevalent in most woodland types in its range, and also in more open country with scattered trees. Eurasian sparrowhawks prefer to hunt the edges of wooded areas, but migrant birds can be seen in any habitat. It waits, hidden, for birds to come near, then breaks cover and flies out fast and low. A chase may follow, with the hawk even flipping upside-down to grab the victim from below or following it on foot through vegetation. It can “stoop” onto prey from a great height. It is classified as least concern by IUCN.

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