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.
Accipiter badius badius – South India and Sri Lanka. The adult male is clear grey above, with just a hint of rufous forming a half-collar. Primary flight feathers are dark grey, tipped with black, with white bases on the inner webs, and barred with dark brown or black. Below, the chin and throat are white, with a narrow black streak at the centre. The sides of face and neck are greyish red; the breast and belly are white, finely barred with chestnut. The under-tail thighs are white. The tail is grey, with five dark bars and a dark tip. Underneath, the wings are rufous to buff. The inner lining of the wing quills is grey, shading to pinkish buff, darker towards the tip. The eyes vary from golden to red, the cere from yellow to orange, and the legs yellow. Females are larger and more slaty above. They are also more clearly barred below than males. Immatures are brownish grey above, with paler edges to the feathers. The tail is grey with four or five clear dark bars, the last of which is quite broad. Below, it is white to buff with drop-shaped spots and streaks of reddish brown. The tail is barred grey and dark brown below. The under side of the wing is similar to the adult, but more rufous generally. The eyes are brown, the cere and feet yellow to greenish yellow.
Accipiter badius dussumier – India from Kashinir and Sikkim south to Central India. This race is larger, paler grey above and paler rufous barring below than Accipiter badius badius.
Accipiter badius cenchroides – Central Asia. This race is paler than Accipiter badius badius or Accipiter badius dussumieri.
Accipiter badius poliopsis – Assam east to eastern China, south to Indo-China. Large, similar to Accipiter badius dussumieri, but with a greyer head.
Accipiter badius sphenurus – Africa from Gambia to Ethiopia south to Zaire, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia. This race is smaller, darker and duller grey above, with darker wing quills, and more rufous below than the Asiatic races.
Accipiter badius polyzonoides – From South Tanzania south to the Cape Province. Again, a smaller bird, similar to Accipiter badius sphenurus, but with some white spots on wing coverts and mantle in many individuals. A plump, solidly built little hawk, it is smaller than the European Sparrowhawk and larger than the Besra Sparrowhawk. In adult plumage the best identification points are the almost plain grey tail at rest, and the regular light chestnut barring from throat to lower belly. The nearly plain tail, and the paler and less clearly marked barring below distinguish it from Besra and the European Sparrowhawks. It shares the most westerly part of its range with the Levant Sparrowhawk, from which it can be distinguished by five or six, not six to eight bars in the spread tail, and by the paler, less distinct barring below. From the Grey Frog Hawk on the eastern edge of its range it is distinguished by duller grey colouring above, clearer tail barring, and lack of a large white patch on the under-wing. In Africa it can be confused with other small sparrow-hawks, the Gabar Goshawk, the African Little Sparrowhawk and the Ovampo Sparrowhawk. The lack of white on the rump, and the nearly plain tail.
Listen to the sound of Shikra
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||55||cm||wingspan max.:||61||cm|
|size min.:||28||cm||size max.:||32||cm|
|incubation min.:||30||days||incubation max.:||35||days|
|fledging min.:||30||days||fledging max.:||35||days|
From two to four eggs are laid on consecutive days. They are greenish white or pale bluish, normally unmarked, but in some races with a few pale brown or grey flecks and blotches; African eggs are more often marked than Asian. Laying dates vary geographically. The breeding season is in the late spring in the northern part of the range, and in the dry season elsewhere.
The female takes sole responsibility for incubation; she is called off the nest to feed by the male and tears up the prey very quickly. The incubation period is between 30 and 35 days. Both sexes bring food to the nest, but the female stays with the young in the early stages and collects most of the prey from the male, who does not normally feed the young. The fledging period is a little over 30 days.
copyright: Eldert Groenewoud