Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Astur nisus L.: Klain, 1909: 84.

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN=[C2ai], BDA-III; International: CITES-II, BeC, BoC-II.

General distribution. A Palearctic species breeding in Europe (without Iceland), the Caucasus Mountains (the region beyond it), the Near East, Middle and Central Asia, Russia, Japan, Asia and Africa.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A resident and passage migrant. In the past it was a widely distributed and numerous species. At present, during the breeding period it is found almost throughout the country, with the highest numbers in the mountains and the low mountainous regions (the mountains Balkan Range, Pirin, Slavyanka, Vitosha) and the Black Sea coast [1]. It is found more rarely in the valleys and the lowlands. The numbers of the breeding population in Bulgaria are declining: under 1 000 pairs [1], 1 000 pairs [2]; 2 200 pairs [3]; 1 500 2 000 [4], and those of the wintering population 2 000 5 000 individuals [5].

Habitats. Forests and their environs in the valleys, low mountainous regions and the mountains to the alpine belt. In the breeding period it is more frequent in the mountains and in deciduous forests.

Biology. Monogamous. It breeds on singular tall trees in open places or along the environs of forests. It lays 2-6 eggs that the female incubates for 32-34 days. Ornithophagous. It hunts on small birds up to 120 g, usually up to 7 km from the nest.

Similar species. The Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes).

Negative factors. Disturbance; illegal shooting, deforestation of vast regions in the valleys; reduction of the nutrition base.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). About 1/3 of the breeding habitats are in protected natural territories.

Conservation measures needed. Decrease of disturbance (for example, a ban on wood production during the breeding season in the regions that are adjacent to breeding habitats), increased control against human poaching, guarding separate nests during the multiplication season. Inclusion of more breeding places (mainly those near tourist routes and eco-paths) within Protected Territories.

References. 1. Simeonov, 1985; 2. Simeonov et al. 1990; 3. Nankinov et al. 2004; 4. BSPB, in press; 5. Kostadinova et al., 1997.

Authors: Zlatozar Boev, Georgi Stoyanov


Sparrowhawk (distribution map)

Sparrowhawk (drawing)