Gundlachs Hawk (Accipiter gundlachi)

Gundlachs Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter gundlachi | [authority] Lawrence, 1860 | [UK] Gundlachs Hawk | [FR] Epervier de Cuba | [DE] Gundlachsperber | [ES] Gavilan Cubano | [NL] Cubaanse Sperwer


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

Medium-sized, stocky forest raptor. Adult, dark blue-grey upperparts with blackish cap, and barred rufous underparts. Immature, brown above, paler below, but with dark streaking. Rounded tail in flight. Sharp-shinned Hawk A. striatus is smaller and has squared tail in flight. Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus is broader-winged and -tailed, and chunkier.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 43 cm size max.: 51 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


North America : Cuba. Gundlach’s Hawk is endemic to Cuba, where it occurs as two distinct subspecies, the
nominate in western and central Cuba and wileyi in the east. The species has never been common, but formerly occurred throughout Cuba. It is now very rare and local, with five main population centres known to remain. The total population was estimated at 150-200 pairs in 1994. There are three centres for the nominate race in west and central Cuba, but two of these held only three and 20 pairs respectively in 1994. There are two further areas for the race wileyi in the east of the island, where the bulk of the population resides. Sightings around Pico Turquino are scarce, but a bird was seen on the north slopes of the Sierra Maestra in early 1999.


It is found up to 800 m in a variety of wooded habitats including humid, dry and pine forests.


The breeding season is February-May, with young fledging by June. Nest cup-shaped structure of sticks and lined with grass, placed above 10 m in a tree, usually close to the trunk and below the canopy. Eggs 2-4, pale bluish-white and unmarked.

Feeding habits

It preys mostly on birds, including poultry.

Video Gundlachs Hawk


copyright: Adolfo Aragues


This species is considered Endangered owing to its very small and severely fragmented population, which is presumably still declining in response to habitat loss, and persecution.
Habitat loss and disturbance as a result of logging and agricultural conversion, and human persecution (because it preys on poultry) are the chief causes of the decline
Gundlachs Hawk status Endangered



Distribution map

Gundlachs Hawk distribution range map

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