Francess Sparrowhawk (Accipiter francesiae)

Francess Sparrowhawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter francesiae | [authority] Smith, 1834 | [UK] Francess Sparrowhawk | [FR] Epervier de Frances | [DE] Echsenhabicht | [ES] Gavilan de Frances | [NL] Australische havik


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Accipiter are small and medium-sized hawks, often called Sparrow-hawks or Goshawks. The females are almost invariably much larger than the males – in some cases weighing twice as much – a level of size dimorphism only exceptionally reached in any other genus Falconiformes. Their wings are short and rounded; the tail usually quite long. They are well adapted for flying through dense bush. Bird-catching Sparrow-hawks generally have long and slender legs, with slender digits, the middle one being especially long. Goshawks are usually larger, with shorter, thicker tarsi and digits and a shorter middle digit. Some smaller species have goshawk-like feet and vice versa, making it difficult on a world-wide basis to subdivide the genus on this or any other broad basis. Although many accipiters feed upon birds moreso than do other hawks, some species take many mammals, especially squirrels; others take lizards, frogs, snakes, insects, even snails. In these species the legs and digits are sometimes slender, but short. Accipiters are rarely crested, but some have very attractive colour patterns. Black phases are present, especially in the tropical species. One in Australia has the only pure white phase. Accipiter is the largest genus in the family, having about fifty species. It is present worldwide, but is especially rich in Papua-New Guinea, where a small island like New Britain may have three to five endemic species or distinct sub-species.

Physical charateristics

Females are larger and browner than males. A small Sparrowhawk with a numver of subspecies all different in coloration, size and barring on underparts. Males have rufous on thighs which also differs in intensity between races.

Listen to the sound of Francess Sparrowhawk

[audio: Sparrowhawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 35 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Africa : Madagascar region


Occurs in virtually all types of forests, ranging from primary to degraded second-growth and including parks, large gardens, and plantations of coconut palms, coffee, cacao, sisal, and fruit trees. In Madagascar and on the Comoros, it occurs mostly at forest edges, rather than in the forest interior.


Builds a large stick nest placed in the upper fork of a large tree, not always within the forest. Nest sites are usually changed from one year to the next.At 14 nests studied on the Masoala Peninsula, 13 were successful in fledging at least one young. Clutch size is 3-4 white eggs.

Feeding habits

Feeds on a wide range of prey, including small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, and large insects. Hunts from a perch, taking small reptiles on the ground and small birds and insects in flight. The technique for capturing lizards involves flying straight toward the prey and knocking or grabbing them from tree trunks, and standing motionless on riverbanks and flying down to lower ground to attack prey

Video Francess Sparrowhawk


copyright: Herve Jacob


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Francess Sparrowhawk status Least Concern


Non-migratory, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas

Distribution map

Francess Sparrowhawk distribution range map

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