Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk | Accipiter rufiventris

The Rufouschested Sparrowhawk is also known as the Redbreasted Sparrowhawk and is an unmistakable raptor. It can often be found amongst grassland and fynbos where there is thick vegetation/forest or tall trees nearby.

Roberts Information On The Rufous Chested Sparrowhawk

The Rufous-chested 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 Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk (Latin name Accipiter rufiventris) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Accipiter rufiventris can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 155 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 519. You will find a picture of the Rufous-chested 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.

This bird is known as Red-breasted Sparrowhawk in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk has a height of 36 cms and weighs around 120 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured black. The Accipiter rufiventris has a white coloured throat, yellow legs and a grey coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

The male Accipiter rufiventris has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

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 black.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is white.

Back is grey.

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

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult  
Non Breeding Plumage N/A


Rufouschested Sparrowhawk Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

The Accipiter rufiventris 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.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

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 Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Rufous Chested Sparrowhawk Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Rufous-chested 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 2 to 4 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 bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

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

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.