Madagascar Sparrowhawk (Accipiter madagascariensis)

Madagascar Sparrowhawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter madagascariensis | [authority] Smith, 1834 | [UK] Madagascar Sparrowhawk | [FR] Epervier de Madagascar | [DE] Madagaskarsperber | [ES] Gavilan Malgache | [NL] Madagaskarsperwer


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Accipiter madagascariensis AF Madagascar


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

A medium-sized forest accipiter. Dark brown-grey above, rather bluer in the male, with pale underparts finely but densely barred blackish, except the throat which is finely streaked blackish. Undertail-coverts are white. Young birds are brown on the back, with vertical streaking and dots on the pale underparts. Legs and feet are conspicuously long, especially the toes. Males are much smaller than females. Distinguished from female and immature Frances’s Sparrowhawk A. francesii by having a finely-streaked throat; rather than a single vertical throat-stripe, and being overall darker with longer toes. Juveniles are very similar to juvenile Henst’s Goshawk A. henstii except for being much smaller with longer toes

Listen to the sound of Madagascar Sparrowhawk

[audio: Sparrowhawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 29 cm size max.: 40 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  


Africa : Madagascar


It occurs in rainforest in the east, deciduous forest in the west and also spiny forest in the south-west, at altitudes of up to 1,500 m, and is only rarely recorded in degraded areas.


Egg-laying takes place in November, with a clutch of three eggs observed. The nest is constructed from sticks, situated high in a forest tree.

Feeding habits

It feeds largely on small birds, as well as frogs, toads and reptiles

Video Madagascar Sparrowhawk


copyright: Helmut Schenkel Brunner


This species is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population reduction owing to habitat loss and degradation. If the decline is shown to be more rapid, or the total population smaller, the species might qualify for a higher threat category.
Primary forest habitats in Madagascar are already seriously damaged, and habitat degradation is ongoing
Madagascar Sparrowhawk status Near Threatened



Distribution map

Madagascar Sparrowhawk distribution range map

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