Tiny Hawk (Accipiter superciliosus)

Tiny Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter superciliosus | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] Tiny Hawk | [FR] Epervier nain | [DE] Daumlingssperber | [ES] Gavilancito Americano | [NL] Dwergsperwer


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

The Tiny Hawk is aptly named. The male has a size of 20cm. and weighs 75gr; the female 26.5cm and 120gr. It is about the size of the Grey-coloured Robin (Turdus greyi).
The adult male is dark grey above, with a blackish crown. The sides of the face are grey and white. Below is mostly white, finely barred throughout, except the throat and the abdomen. The tail is banded grey and black. The eyes are crimson, and the beak black. The legs are deep yellow. Females are similar.
Immatures are greyish brown above, darker on the head, and with a pale tip and four grey bars on the tail. Below is buff finely barred with rufous, except on the throat and flanks.

Listen to the sound of Tiny Hawk

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/Tiny Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 24 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Latin America : Nicaragua to North Argentina. The Tiny Hawk is distributed throughout tropical South America in humid lowland forest on both sides of the Andes, Panama, the Guianas and throughout Amazonia and to the southern and eastern coasts of South America.


Its preferred habitat is lowland forest edge and woodland up to about 1,800 metres. It also frequents the canopy of rainforest and high secondary growth.


Incomplerte data with only records of observed young or stick carrying.

Feeding habits

The Tiny Sparrow-hawk feeds on small birds – mostly passerines, although it is, in Costa Rica, the only avian predator on humming-birds. Its method of hunting consists mainly of hiding and waiting for its prey, soon to launch itself quickly and to attack small birds. It can learn which are the regular feeding places of the humming-birds and can try to capture them by means of an ambush, or when flying quickly between the feeding places.

Video Tiny Hawk


copyright: D. Ascanio


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, 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.
The Tiny Sparrow-hawk is found in tropical and sub-tropical forested areas in southern Central America and northern South America. Rare species in Suriname with some species collected.
Tiny Hawk status Least Concern


Not known

Distribution map

Tiny Hawk distribution range map


Author(s): F. GARY STILES
Abstract: This paper describes the hunting tactics of the Ti..[more]..
Source: The Auk 95: 550-553. July 1978

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