Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti (Linnaeus, 1758)

Order: Accipitriformes Family: Accipitridae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Recommended birdwatching tours to watch this bird

Full-day birdwatching - although it is very rare to watch it
Half-day birdwatching - although it is very rare to watch it

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

This raptor is smaller than the Buzzard and larger than the Kestrel - the other two raptors breeding in the Madeira archipelago. Its wings are broad, medium-length and rounded and its head is short and small. Females are much bigger than males.

Colour Pattern

This species underparts are barred though the male is reddish brown while the female is grey. Their upper-parts are bluish-grey on both sexes and their eye is yellow. The females have a whitish line over the eye.


The Sparrowhawk is extremely quick and silent, flying among trees with great skill and agility. Its flight is straight with several quick, deep wingbeats between short flat glides and tail closed.


Lives in forested areas where it flies under cover of vegetation though sometimes it is seen around urbanised areas. This species is found throughout the island of Madeira but is not easily seen due to its discreet habits. The subspecies Accipiter nisus granti only occurs in Madeira and Canary archipelagos

Distinction from similar species

The male Eurasian Sparrowhawk can be confused with a Kestrel though the first one has broader wings with less pointed hands and a long, thin, square, barred tail while Kestrel has a shorter tail with black band on the tip.

Accipiter nisus Biometrics

Wingspan: 95 - 125 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Total length: 28 - 38 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Weight: 150 - 320 g (Hume, 2002)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: It builds its nest in trees, normally between 6 and 12 metres above the ground. The nests are built in March and the eggs are laid in April. The clutches have 3 or 4 eggs and the incubation period is 33 to 35 days. The young birds are ready to fly by the time they are 5 to 6 weeks old.
Diet: Feed on small birds. Males hunt passerines while females can go up to pigeon size birds


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Rare breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Madeiran: Fura-bardos, Gavião
Portuguese: Gavião da Europa
German: Sperber
Dutch: Sperwer
Swedish: Sparvhök
Danish: Spurvehøg
Finish: Varpushaukka
Norwegian: Spurvehauk
Spanish: Gavilán Común
French: Épervier d'Europe
Italian: Sparviero eurasiatico
Polish: Krogulec
Slovak: Jastrab krahulec
Czech: Krahujec obecný

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