Levant Sparrowhawk

Accipiter brevipes Severtzov, 1850

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU=D[1], BDA-II; International: CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II, ESC-Spec 2, BD-I.

General distribution. An Indo-African species with a major range the Balkan peninsula, Moldova and the Ukraine, in the west to Hungary and in the east to Turkey, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. In the past, the data of the distribution of the species were scarce with predominating observations from Southern Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast [1, 2]. At present, it breeds from the sea level to altitudes of about 700 m [3, 4]. It prefers river valleys, less frequently breeding in fields and low mountains. It is concentrated along the valleys of the larger rivers: in the lower reaches of the rivers Maritsa, Tundzha, Struma and Danube. At places, the some pairs breed at a distance of 1.5-6 km one from the other [S. Stoychev, B. Nikolov, unpubl. data]. In the rest of the country, the range is greatly scattered [3]. The numbers are estimated at 200-400 pairs.

Habitats. Various deciduous forests, often in the vicinity of rivers or streams. It also hunts in open terrains and in agricultural areas.

Biology. It breeds on trees. The nest is loose, built out of branches. The full clutch consists of 2-5 eggs. Incubation last for 30-35 days [2]. A nest with one egg was recorded on 15 May. Young birds prior to flying away from the nest and young birds having already left the nest were observed at the end of July [S. Stoychev, B. Nikolov, unpubl. data]. It feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects [5]. A case of mellanism has been recorded in Bulgaria [6].

Similar species. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

Negative factors. Loss and degradation of habitats as a result of large-scale forestation, clearcutting, building dams, fires. Mortality caused by clashes with electrical posts and buildings, transport vehicles and high-voltage lines; poaching; disturbance.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). It figures in popular editions for the preservation of birds of prey. Some of the breeding pairs fall within protected areas national and nature parks, protected areas, reserves, etc.

Conservation measures needed. Focused studies on the numbers, the biology, the ecology and the threats for the species. Preparation and adoption of Management Plans for the protected territories in which it is found. Declaration of new protected areas: the Eastern Rhodopes Nature Park and the protected localities Adata and Zhdreloto na Tundzha. Increase of the nature conservation culture of the population. Inclusion of a text about birds of prey in textbooks for primary education.

References. 1. Simeonov, 1985; 2. Simeonov et al., 1990; 3. Iankov (ed.), 2007; 4. Nankinov et al., 1991; 5. Simeonov, 1984; 6. Nikolov, 2002.

Authors: Stoycho Stoychev, Boris Nikolov

Levant Sparrowhawk (distribution map)

Levant Sparrowhawk (drawing)