Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis)

Japanese Sparrowhawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter gularis | [authority] Temminck and Schlegel, 1844 | [UK] Japanese Sparrowhawk | [FR] Epervier du Japon | [DE] Trillersperber | [ES] Gavilancito japon | [NL] Kleine 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

It is 29-34cm in length, with the female larger than the male. The male has dark barred underwings, lightly barred underparts, dark grey upperparts and red eyes. Female has yellow eyes and dark barred underparts. Juvenile has brown upperparts and streaks on breast.

wingspan min.: 51 cm wingspan max.: 63 cm
size min.: 29 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 25 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 27 days fledging max.: 33 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : Central, East. It breeds in China, Japan, Korea and Siberia; winters in Indonesia and Philippines, passing through the rest of South-east Asia.


Gound in wooded areas both coniferous and deciduous, also riparian woods. Prefers low altitudes with evergreen forest. Is, however, found at 1800m and during summer will visit urbanized areas.


Nest is built from twigs and foliage, usually near the trunk of a tree. Clutch size is 2-5 eggs which are invubated for about 25-28 days, young probably fledge after about a month after hatching,

Feeding habits

Diet consists of manily small birds, sometimes medum-sized birds like magpies or pigeons. Next to this rodents, bats and reptiles are taken. Hunts in wooded areas, usually in clearings. It is a ferocious hunter.

Video Japanese Sparrowhawk


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


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.
Japanese Sparrowhawk status Least Concern


Mainly migratory, although sedentary in Taiwan and South Ryukyu Is; small numbers winter in breeding range, in Central and South Japan and Southeast China. Winter visitor from South China to Indochina, Malay Peninsula, Philippines, Greater and Lesser Sundas and North Sulawesi; limited numbers in Burma; considerable movement recorded over Bali, where 7835 birds seen from early Oct to early Nov 1989. In Japan, birds mostly present from Apr to Sept; in Siberia possibly from May to Sept or early Oct.

Distribution map

Japanese Sparrowhawk distribution range map

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