Levant Sparrowhawk, Accipiter brevipes
Levant Sparrowhawk, © Cosmin-Ovidiu Manci
English: Levant Sparrowhawk
Scientific: Accipiter brevipes
Spanish: Gavilán griego
French: Epervier à pieds courts
Taxonomy and Subspecies
Forms a superspecies with the Shikra Accipiter badius and the Nicobar Sparrowhawk Accipiter butleri [GRIN 2009].
No subspecies [GRIN 2009, Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
Length: 32-35 cm
Wingspan: 69-74 cm
Weight: Male 140-275, Femaile 180-290 g
Unknown. [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]
Often found in lowland forests along rivers and streams. Other than the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, the Levant Sparrowhawk prefers deciduous forests [Mebs & Schmidt 2006, GRIN 2010].
In Europe only in the south-east. The Levant Sparrowhawk can be found on the Balkan, in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and eastwards to Iran.
Other than the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, the Levant Sparrowhawk is a strictly migratory species. It leaves it’s European breeding range in the second half of August and the first half of September [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]. The Levant Sparrowhawk migrates in small flocks (the Eurasian Sparrowhawk migrates singly) [GRIN 2010].
The winter quarters are in the eastern part of the Sahel, maybe also in more western parts of the Sahel [Mebs & Schmidt 2010]. More research is needed here.
Returns to the European breeding grounds mostly during the 2nd half of April [Mebs & Schmidt 2010].
Breeding and Reproduction
Like the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Levant Sparrowhawks can already breed when 1 year old.
Nests are built in a tree, normally at heights of 6-12m [GRIN 2010]. Clutch size is between 3 and 5 eggs with 4 being the most common number of eggs. The eggs are incubated for 29-30 days, mostly by the female and the young leave the nest after 29-31 days [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
As with other raptors, the young are fed by the parents after fledging for a while, often at their nest.
Food and hunting
The Levant Sparrowhawk feeds on small birds, small mammals like voles and lizards. Large insects and even bat are also taken. Hunts either from a perch or from flight low above the ground and then surprises the victim [Mebs & Schmidt 2006, GRIN 2010].
[BirdLife 2004] estimated the European populations to be between 3,200 and 7,700 pairs. The largest populations are found in Russia (1,500 – 3,000) and Greece (1,000 – 2,000). In Romania there are 60 – 90 pairs, in Bulgaria 50 – 90. Turkey has 600 – 900 pairs.
The breeding population may be much higher because during migration much more birds were counted in Israel. During autumn migration in 1994, 60,390! birds were counted in the Northern Valley [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
The Levant Sparrowhawk is a very secretive species and therefore is hard to count. More research is needed here.
It is supposed that the population on the Balkan has declined considerably. Similar trends have been observed along the Wolga River. In south-western Russia, among other factors, an increase in Northern Goshawk numbers may have had a negative effect on the Levant Sparrowhawk population. Along the migration route in Israel the number of migrating individuals also declined [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
Not much is known about the threats about this secretive raptor. Habitat destruction and human persecution along the migration route and in the wintering areas are a known threat [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].
The remaining habitat must be protected and destroyed habitat should be restored where possible. Killing of Levant Sparrowhawks in the wintering quarters and along the migration route must be stopped.
More research is needed to learn more about the population size in Europe, it’s population ecology and threats in the breeding areas as well as during migration and in the wintering quarters.
Least Concern (LC)
Status Global Raptor Information Network
[BirdLife International 2004] BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife Interntional. Cambridge, UK. (Levant Sparrowhawk species account available at: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/BirdsInEuropeII/BiE2004Sp3427.pdf)[GRIN 2010] Global Raptor Information Network. 2010. Species account: Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 11 Dec 2010
[Mebs & Schmidt 2006] Mebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.
Forsman, Dick (1999). The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East A Handbook of Field Identification. PoyserMebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.