Bird Families

Celebes Hawk / Accipiter nanus


Russian Ornithological Journal 2020, Volume 29, Express Edition 1974: 4295-4296

About nesting of the Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus in South Primorye

V.I.Labzyuk, Yu.N. Nazarov, V.A.Nechaev, M.A.Omelko

Second edition. First published in 1971 *

The faunistic status of the Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus in Primorsky Krai remained unclear until very recently. Despite the fact that it nests in adjacent areas: northeastern China (Cheng 1955), Sakhalin Island (Gizenko 1955), Japanese islands (Austin, Kuroda 1953), there was no information about its nesting in Primorsky Krai. The assumption of LM Shulpin (1936) about the nesting of this species in the north and “in places” in the south of the region, in essence, was based on not entirely reliable observations of birds in the summer. He cites only one specimen, taken during the nesting time (an adult bird dated July 4, 1908 from the vicinity of the village of Kamen-Rybolov).

The nest of the Sparrowhawk was found by us on May 28, 1962 on the De Vries Peninsula (Amur Bay) in a small array of rather dense broad-leaved forest surrounded by fields. It was placed on an apple tree at a fork in two central branches at a height of about 3 m and was a large loose structure of dry branches of linden, apple and Japanese alder. The tray was lined with thin twigs of the same species of trees. The female left the nest when we came close to the tree. Emitting an alarming cry "kya-kya-kya", she began to circle over the nest, sometimes flying so low that her wings almost touched her face. In the nest, there were 3 eggs of white color with large and small brown spots, collected together mainly at the blunt end. A few days later we visited this place again, but the nest was destroyed.

In the vicinity of the city of Artyom (upper reaches of the Batalyanza River +), a nest of this species was discovered on July 21, 1965. It was located in a coniferous-deciduous forest and was located in a fork of fir branches at a height of about 10 m. There were three young birds in it, which at our approach left it, flying to the branches of the nearest trees. An adult female (weight 257.3 g, wing - 247 mm), caught near the nest, had not yet molted into the second annual outfit: brown feathers were scattered along the dove-gray upper back, on the left wing there were 4 first

* Labzyuk V.I., Nazarov Yu.N., Nechaev V.A., Omelko M.A. 1971. On the nesting of the Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus (b.) In South Primorye II Ornithological research in the south of the Far East. Vladivostok: 170-171.

+ Since 1972 - the Knevichanka river.

Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 2020. Volume 29. Express Edition No. 1974

the sedate flight feather barely appeared from the horn cap, on the right one all the flight feathers are old. Loads and food found in and near the nest contained feathers of the jay Garrulus glandarius, nuthatch Sitta europaea, blue Cyanoptila cyanomelana and yellow-backed Ficedula zanthopygia flycatchers, variegated Zoothera varia and olive Turdus obscurcyus of blackbird thrushes

On the De Vries Peninsula, according to the observations of one of the authors (M.A.Omelko), sparrowhawks nest regularly. So, their nests were found in 1953, 1962 and 1964. In 1962, we saw two eggs of this hawk species from different clutches collected 1-2 years ago somewhere in the area of ​​Nadezhdinskaya station (40 km north of Vladivostok).

In the second half of the 1960s, in the valley of the Lyanchikhe River * (Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula), we repeatedly observed a female sparrowhawk carrying food (gray Sturnus cinera-ceus and small Sturnia sturnia starlings, small black-headed gannets Eophonaratoria).

During the analysis of the oological collection at the Zoological Museum of the Far Eastern University, a sparrowhaw egg from the vicinity of Olga Bay was found, but without a detailed label. The egg is white with a bluish tinge and brown spots around the blunt end. Dimensions 45.2x34.2 mm.

A.A. Nazarenko (oral communication) observed a sparrowhawk on May 28, 1967 in the upper reaches of the Krasnaya Rechka (sources of the Iman, Tetyukhinsky district). A pair of hawks was found in a very thin spruce forest in a strip of old felling areas. The birds were very restless.It is interesting to emphasize that their alarming cry "kya-kya-kya" sharply differed from that of the small sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis.

Thus, the Sparrowhawk nests in Primorye, but its numbers are apparently low everywhere.

Vorobiev K.A. 1954. Birds of the Ussuri region. M .: 1-360. A.I. Gizenko 1955. Birds of the Sakhalin Region. M .: 1-328.

Shulpin L.M. 1936. Commercial, hunting and birds of prey in Primorye. Vladivostok: 1-436.

Austin O.L., Kugoda N. 1953. The birds of Japan, their status and distribution // Bull. Mus.

Compar. Zool. 109, 4: 278-637. Cheng Tso-hsin 1955. A distributional list of Chínese birds. Non-Passeriformes. Peking.

* Now the Bogataya river.

Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 2020. Volume 29. Express Edition No. 1974

Origin of the species and description

This bird is from the genus of true hawks of the family of hawks and the order of hawks. It took humanity a century and a half to rewrite all subspecies of the sparrowhawk. They differ little from each other. There are slight differences in size and color.

Scientists have described six subspecies:

  • Accipiter nisus nisus lives in Europe, as well as in the triangle between the Ural Mountains, Siberia and Iran. It got its name in 1758. First described by Carl Linnaeus.
  • Accipiter nisus nisosimilis settles in Central and Eastern Siberia, Japan, China and Kamchatka. Described in 1833 by Samuel Tickel.
  • Accipiter nisus melaschistos lives in the mountains of Afghanistan, the Himalayas, Tibet and western China. Described in 1869. This was done by Allen Octavius ​​Hume.
  • Accipiter nisus granti chose the Canary Islands and Madeira to live. Selected as a subspecies in 1890 by Richard Boudler Sharp.
  • Accipiter nisus punicus is the smallest of the sparrowhawks. Lives in northwestern Africa and northern Sahara. It was described in 1897 by the German baron Carlo von Erlanger.
  • Accipiter nisus wolterstorffi breeds in Sardinia and Corsica. Described in 1900 by Otto Kleinschmidt.

Northern subspecies go to winter in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Appearance and features

Photo: Sparrowhawk bird

Sparrowhawk has a sharp, clear voice. But hearing a predator is hard enough. Bird watchers and naturalists sit in ambushes for hours. It is possible to record the bird's voice only during the hunt and mating season. Unlike its large relatives, Accipiter nisus does not attack small animals. The birds are always the subject of his hunt.

Sparrowhawk females are almost twice as large as males. The average male weighs 170 grams, while the female weighs 250-300 grams. Short wings and long tail provide maneuverability to the bird. The wing of the female does not exceed 22 cm in length, in the male - 20 cm. The body averages 38 cm. Males have a contrasting color. Above it is gray, below it is white with a brown pattern and a characteristic reddish color. The male cheeks are also reddish. In both males and females, a light eyebrow is clearly distinguishable.

Sparrowhawk video:

The female is distinguished by a brown color on top. Below it is white with dark brown stripes. Females, unlike males, have no reddish plumage at all. In both females and males, 5 transverse stripes are clearly visible on the tail in flight. The bodies have wavy stripes. The feeling is that the bird is in armor.

Juveniles differ from adults in depth and brightness of color. In young birds, white color is practically absent in plumage. They are distinguished by an unusual plumage pattern - spots in the shape of hearts are noticeable from below. Sparrowhawks have three noticeable yellow spots on the background of the general color. The eyes, legs and base of the beak are canary yellow. The beak is small, the head is round.

Where does the sparrowhawk live?

Photo: Sparrowhawk male

The range of the Sparrowhawk is unusually wide. Birds of this species are found in Siberia, the Far East, Europe, Afghanistan and even in such remote places as the Himalayas and Tibet. Some subspecies chose to live not on the mainland, but on the Canary Islands, Madeira, Sardinia and Corsica. Representatives of this bird species have settled even in Africa.

Not all sparrowhawk subspecies migrate. Birds living in the European part winter in the Mediterranean region, in the Middle East, as well as in Japan and Korea. They remain in their homes all year round and have well-established nesting sites. The migration routes of small hawks are closely related to the habitats of small birds, which this predator feeds on.Going to winter, hawks fly over the North Caucasus, Iran and Pakistan - the only territories where hawks feed on quails, which are found there in abundance. This creates greenhouse conditions for resting and fattening for migrating predators.

Interesting fact: The sparrowhawk got its name due to a person's passion for the popular hawk quail hunt. In nature, the hawk rarely hunts this bird.

Sparrowhawk settles in a wide variety of places. It can be found both in forests and steppes, and on urban outskirts. He lives easily in the mountains. Quail hawk nests are found at an altitude of 5000 m above sea level. Its favorite places are rare deciduous forests, river floodplains, steppes, valleys and deserts.

What does the sparrowhawk eat?

Photo: Sparrowhawk female

The Sparrowhawk is an ornithophagous species that feeds on live food. He hunts small birds. The menu includes sparrows and tits. Likes to feast on finches and blackbirds. It hunts wood pigeons, pigeons and even woodpeckers. The prey of a female quail hawk is sometimes twice as large as herself. There are cases when hawks hunted hazel grouses and crows.

Interesting fact: Sparrowhaw usually hunts during the day. The bird rests at night. However, there are cases when a hawk lingers on hunting until dusk, and then small owls and bats appear in its diet. Young birds especially often sin this.

Sparrowhaw's nutrition depends on migration and season. His diet can be determined by the places of the pluck. Before eating, the sparrowhawk removes feathers from the victim. Feathers and food debris can be used to judge the diet of a bird. The diet largely depends on the time of year and the territory over which the sparrowhawks migrate. In the spring, birdwatchers find feathers of the zoryanka, titmouse and starling in the pluck.

Although it is generally accepted that sparrowhawks hunt exclusively for birds, there are cases of hunting for small rodents and frogs. As noted by scientists, about 5% of the sparrowhawk's diet are small rodents and amphibians. During their migration across the Baltic, birds attack young gulls, and island sparrowhawks attack parrots.

Sparrowhawk is not averse to feasting on poultry. Due to the fact that the hawk is not afraid to settle next to people, private subsidiary farms suffer. More than 150 food ingredients have been found in experimental feeders run by bird watchers. An adult sparrowhawk eats more than 1000 small birds per year. The sparrowhawk menu also includes insects and acorns.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Sparrowhawk in winter

The hawk does not leave the battlefield and does not leave the fight without prey. He is not brought down by the hubbub of the flock raised by fear. He uses bird panic while hunting. Sparrowhawk, unlike other birds of prey, does not hang in the air when tracking down prey. He's a master at planning. Using an open tail, it hovers in the air for quite a long time.

Interesting fact: Due to the imbalance in the size of birds in a pair, males hunt small prey, while females prefer larger ones.

Possesses high intelligence. Communicates with a person. Well tame and trainable. Great hunting companion. This feature of the quail hawk is sung in poetry and prose. The quail hawk is a favorite bird of prey of many peoples since the Middle Ages. In Russia, the bird was called a small hawk. He was traditionally trained to hunt quail. That is why the name "sparrow hawk", well-known in Europe, did not take root in Russia.

The manner of hunting is determined by the anatomical features of the hawk. Short wings allow you to maneuver among the foliage of trees and not reduce speed. The long feathery tail provides high maneuverability. This allows the bird to stay in hovering for a long time looking for prey.

Interesting fact: Sparrowhawks have stable perennial families and hatched nests. In case of danger, the hawk pair does not leave the place, but raises the nest higher.Dismantles the old and builds the new from the available building materials.

Social structure and reproduction

By the end of the first year of life, the birds have completed their puberty cycle and are ready for the first clutch. The courtship period ends with the creation of a stable couple. Alliances last for decades. Some families have several nests at once. Scientists have noticed that this species "moves" from one nest to another. They are used as needed, depending on weather and natural conditions.

Hawks build a fairly deep nest at a height of 10 meters or more. There have been cases of hawks raising the nest higher from year to year. This behavior of birds is due to outside interference. Eggs are laid at the very end of spring and early summer. However, there are cases when the laying is completed by the end of April. On average, a couple lays 5 eggs. Ornithologists note that the size of clutches has decreased recently. It is believed that the ecological situation influences the decrease in the number of eggs.

Sparrowhaw eggs are colored white. The chaotic pattern of the color of burnt bricks masks them from larger predators. In the construction of nests, quail hawks use only dried twigs and grass, feathers from pluck. The place for laying is deep, well closed from prying eyes, wind and rain.

Interesting fact: During hatching, the female becomes aggressive. There are known cases of attacks by quail hawks on people. In Ryazan, an ornithologist was attacked by a couple who settled near a residential area.

The incubation of eggs lasts 30 days. Upon completion, chicks appear. Laying is not always effective. According to ornithologists, in the last decade, the viability of clutches is 70-80%. If the clutch dies, the sparrowhawks will organize a new one. Sometimes chicks of different ages are found in the nests.

Natural enemies of the Sparrowhawk

Photo: Sparrowhawk bird

The natural enemies of the Sparrowhawk are the larger birds of prey. The goshawk never misses an opportunity to hunt for its small brother. Protecting themselves from such threats, sparrowhawks do not build nests in the vicinity of goshawks, keeping a nesting distance of about 10 km.

More than once, cases of attacks on a sparrowhawk by gray crows or pigeons have been described, which, having united in a flock, attack hawks. Group attacks on the Sparrowhawk can be observed in the suburbs and rural areas, where birds settle close to human dwellings in search of food. Multiple flocks of passerines attract hawks. But the hawk does not always manage to profit from easy prey. Well-organized groups not only repel the attacks of hawks, but also drive the predator away from the nesting site.

Felines become natural enemies of sparrowhawks. They plunder nests with newborn chicks and young birds.

People also create conditions for the decline in the bird population:

  • Changes in the environment due to human activity.
  • Reduction of natural bird habitats.
  • Deforestation, plowing of fields, housing construction and industrialization.
  • Deterioration of the ecological state of natural hawk settlements.
  • Construction of highly toxic industries that pollute the poultry habitat, reduce the food supply, and affect the ability to reproduce.
  • Catching birds for training and sale.
  • Barbaric ways to protect private poultry farms from the hawk.

Population and status of the species

Photo: Sparrowhawk on a tree

The population of the species is gradually decreasing due to the influence of humans on it. At the end of the twentieth century, the bird came under merciless shooting. Sparrowhawk was believed to cause serious damage to poultry farming. Having reduced the bird population by almost a quarter, people finally understood how the decrease in the number of sparrowhawks affected the environment. The uncontrolled reproduction of passerines has caused serious damage to agriculture and crop production.

Now at 100 you can find no more than 4 nests. Bird hunting, ecology, and other factors influenced the number.

According to the latest data, there are only slightly more than 100,000 sparrowhaw pairs in the world:

  • There are no more than 2,000 pairs in Europe,
  • There are 20,000 pairs in Russia,
  • There are 35,000 pairs in Asia,
  • There are 18,000 pairs in Africa,
  • There are 22,000 pairs in America,
  • There are 8,000 pairs on the islands.

Sparrowhawk itself does not in any way affect the decrease in the passerine population, despite the fact that it feeds on the birds of this order. Nor is it a serious threat to the development of private subsidiary poultry farms. Maintains natural balance.