Little Sparrowhawk | Accipiter minullus

The Little Sparrowhawk is appropriately named, as it is the second smallest raptor in the sub region, the smallest being the pygmy falcon. The Little Sparrowhawk is about half the size of a pigeon and mainly preys on small birds. It is also known as the African Little Sparrowhawk.

Little SparrowhawkRoberts Information On The Little Sparrowhawk

The Little Sparrowhawk is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the Little Sparrowhawk (Latin name Accipiter minullus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Accipiter minullus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 157 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 516. You will find a picture of the Little Sparrowhawk on page 433.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Little Sparrowhawk between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Little Sparrowhawk is known in Afrikaans as Kleinsperwer.

The Little Sparrowhawk has a height of 23 cms and weighs around 75 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured grey. The Accipiter minullus has a brown coloured throat, yellow legs and a black, grey coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is grey.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is grey.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is brown.

Back is black, grey.

Photo's Of The Little Sparrowhawk & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Male Adult Adult African Little Sparrowhawk
Female Adult Same as above.
Juvenile No Photo.
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Little Sparrowhawk Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

The Accipiter minullus attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten.

The Accipiter minullus attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The Little Sparrowhawk eats the eggs of its victim.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Little Sparrowhawk uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Little Sparrowhawk Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Little Sparrowhawk is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 3 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The Little Sparrowhawk is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests.

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Little Sparrowhawk is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.