Plain-breasted Hawk (Accipiter ventralis)

Plain-breasted Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter ventralis | [authority] Sclater, 1866 | [UK] Plain-breasted Hawk | [FR] Autour a gorge rayee | [DE] Eckschwanz-Sperber | [ES] Gavilan andino | [NL] Bruinborstsperwer


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Accipiter ventralis SA Venezuela to w Bolivia


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

The most common morph has dark grey upperparts (often appears almost black) and white underparts variable barred, shaded or mottled with rufous or tawny-buff (extensively marked individuals may appear almost entirely rufous or tawny-buff below). Occasionally, the barring to the lower belly and flanks may appear duskier. The white morph has bluish-grey upperparts (similar to the nominate group), but its underparts are all white except for its rufous thighs. The rare dark morph, the only morph which sometimes lacks rufous thighs, is entirely sooty (occasionally with slight white barring to belly and faint grey bands in tail). The underparts of the females average paler than males of the same morph. The iris is typically yellow (contra illustrations in some books), but individuals (mainly sub-adults?) with a darker iris are occasionally seen. Juveniles have dark brownish or dusky upperparts with each feather typically edged rufous, giving a rather scaly appearance. The underparts are white streaked brown, and the thighs are rufous barred white. Occasionally, juveniles with underparts extensively rufous streaked blackish are seen. It is generally easily recognized by the Accipiter shape and the colour of the underparts. The grey underparts of the Bicoloured Hawk are not duplicated by any plumage of ventralis and juv. Bicoloured (which may be whitish below) has a nuchal collar. The smaller Tiny Hawk mainly occurs in lowlands, is very small and lacks the rufous thighs of ventralis. The rare dark morph ventralis is arguably the plumage most likely to cause confusion with other species (e.g. White-rumped Hawk, dark morph Collared Forest Falcon and various Buteo hawks), but the yellow eyes and the overall shape means that it too is relatively distinctive.

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  


South America : Venezuela to West Bolivia. Andes from Colombia (including Santa Martas) to western and southern Venezuela (including Tepuis) through Ecuador and Peru to western Bolivia (Cochabamba, Santa Cruz).


Found in middle elevations and lower montane areas. Occurs in humid forests, including second-growth, patches of woodland, and occasionally in agricultural terrain or partially cleared areas. Sometimes perches on exposed branches and also soars regularly


Probably builds stick nest in tall tree, no further data,

Feeding habits

Feeds on small birds. Generally hunts from a concealed perch in dense foliage inside forest or at edges, dashing out in pursuit of prey.

Video Plain-breasted Hawk


copyright: D. Ascanio


This taxon is Not Recognised as a species by BirdLife International.



Distribution map

Plain-breasted Hawk distribution range map

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