Collared Sparrowhawk

Did you know?

Collared Sparrowhawks rely on trees or tall shrubs for cover to ambush their prey, darting out to catch small birds. At other times they sit quietly and are very easily overlooked.

Calls
A rapid, almost trilled 'keek, keek, keek' and a soft mewing 'wit wit'. They are silent when hunting.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
30cm
Maximum Size: 
40cm
Average size: 
35cm
Average weight: 
195g
Breeding season: 
September to February
Clutch Size: 
3 to 4 eggs
Incubation: 
35 days
Nestling Period: 
28 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
NT: 
QLD: 
SA: 
TAS: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
222
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Collared Sparrowhawk is a medium-sized, finely built raptor (bird of prey) with wide staring bright yellow eyes. The upperparts and side of the head are slate- grey, with a complete chestnut half-collar. The underparts are finely barred pale rufous on white and the rounded wings are rather short. The bill is black, with a pale yellow cere (fleshy bill base). The Collared Sparrowhawk has long fine yellow legs and very long toes, especially the middle toe. The tail is long and generally squared at the tip. The sexes are similar in appearance but males are smaller than females. The Collared Sparrowhawk is also called the Chickenhawk.

Similar species: 

The Collared Sparrowhawk is very similar in appearance to the relatedBrown Goshawk A. fasciatus, which has a rounded tail rather than the squared tail of the Collared Sparrowhawk. The Brown Goshawk also has a heavy brow, giving it a fierce look, and thicker legs and toes. Male Brown Goshawks (35-38cm) are much the same size as female Collared Sparrowhawks but female Brown Goshawks are considerably larger (40-55cm).

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

Collared Sparrowhawks are widely distributed across mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. Although widespread, they are generally uncommon.

Habitat: 

Collared Sparrowhawks are generally resident but may be partly migratory, however their movements are poorly known.

Seasonal movements: 

Collared Sparrowhawks will live near human settlements and in cleared areas if there are suitable trees and shrubs available for hunting and nesting. They eat introduced birds like House Sparrows and Common Starlings. They may even follow prey into houses when hunting.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Collared Sparrowhawks mainly eat small birds caught in flight. They hunt during the day, and also at dawn and dusk to catch birds at their roost sites. Their very long middle toe is used to clutch their prey, before it is killed, plucked and eaten.

Breeding: 

The Collared Sparrowhawk builds a rather flat nest of twigs and sticks in the fork of a tree, usually high among the foliage. The nest is lined with fresh leaves. Mainly the female incubates, with the male helping at times, though he provides her with food. The female broods the young for the first week or so and then shelters them in very hot or cold weather. The young are fed with small pieces of food, bill to bill. Sparrowhawks are very calm at their nest, unlike the Brown Goshawk which is very aggressive.

Living with us

Collared Sparrowhawks rely on trees or tall shrubs for cover to ambush their prey, darting out to catch small birds. At other times they sit quietly and are very easily overlooked.

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