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.

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

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.