Imitator Goshawk (Accipiter imitator)

Imitator Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter imitator | [authority] Hartert, 1926 | [UK] Imitator Goshawk | [FR] Autour imitateur | [DE] Trughabicht | [ES] Gavilan Imitador | [NL] Bonte Sperwer


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Accipiter imitator AU Solomon Islands


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

Small, pied hawk with black- and white-throated and possibly all-black morphs. Adult jet-black above, the throat and breast either black or white. Reddish-brown iris. Immatures mottled rufous with fine black barring on underparts. White-throated birds very similar to Pied Goshawk A. albogularis which is dark grey above, often with rufous collar, paler grey undersides to wing and tail and orange iris. Immature has dark streaks and drop-marks on the underparts.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 33 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Australasia : Solomon Islands. Accipiter imitator is endemic to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and Choiseul and Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. It is rare but may be overlooked because of its unobtrusive forest habits, and it perhaps lacks a distinctive call. It is known from just one specimen from Bougainville and a handful from both Choiseul and Isabel


This species has been collected and sighted in lowland forest or forest edge to at least 400 m and, possibly, 1,000 m. Its ecology is poorly known and its niche separation from A. albogularis is unknown, but its shorter wings and tail and longer legs suggest that it is better adapted to interior


No data

Feeding habits

Diet probably consists of small birds, reptiles and insects. It hunts in the understorey an wingss and claws adapted to this kind of prey.


This little-known species is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of very small island subpopulations which are suspected to be declining through forest loss. However, it has been seen so infrequently that any population estimates are largely conjecture, and it may qualify for a higher threat category.
As a lowland species, it is likely to be threatened by forest loss and degradation. There is extensive logging in the lowlands and hills of Choiseul and some on Isabel. Logging may become a problem on Bougainville when the island opens up to development. It possibly suffers from competition with A. albogularis, especially in degraded forest
Imitator Goshawk status Vulnerable



Distribution map

Imitator Goshawk distribution range map

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