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6

Collared Sparrowhawk

(Accipiter cirrocephalus)
Alternate name(s): "(Australian) Sparrowhawk", "Chicken-hawk*"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "cirrhocephalus": "djilildjili", "minmin", "koordop" (WA); "bilbil"

Size: 30-40 cm; wing span 55-80 cm
Weight: 125 g (male), 240 g (female)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Collared Sparrowhawk at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "cirrocephalus"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

MALE

Full-frontal portrait of a male Collared Sparrowhawk
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2015]

Near-lateral view of a male Collared Sparrowhawk looking at the observer
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, September 2015]

Near-lateral view of a male Collared Sparrowhawk
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, September 2015]

Near-lateral view of a male Collared Sparrowhawk with its inner eyelids closed
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, September 2015]

Dorsal view of a male Collared Sparrowhawk; note the bright yellow irises with the pupils almost closed in bright sunlight
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, September 2015]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a Collared Sparrowhawk peeking through the branches of a tree
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2008]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, March 2017]

Immature Collared Sparrowhawk resting on one leg (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, March 2017]

Lateral view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk sitting on a chook pen (photo courtesy of J. & S. Bowditch)
[Mildura, VIC, December 2011]

Lateral view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Lateral view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk; note the long middle toes and square-shaped tail typical of this species
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2009]

Near-dorsal view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Dorsal view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2012]

Ventral view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Near-lateral view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2014]

Dorsal view of an immature Collared Sparrowhawk in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Immature Collared Sparrowhawk seen gliding from its perch after behing hustled by other birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Apr - Dec Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 35 - 37 days Fledging age: 35 - 42? days

 

The breeding season depends on geographic latitude. Given the right conditions Collared Sparrowhawks can breed at any time of the year.

Twitcher's tip

Note that, by the time they fledge (i.e., leave their nest), the young of all species of raptors - apart from the tail and wing feathers (which are still growing) - are already full adult-size.

For species of raptors with a pronounced size dimorphism between the sexes (the female is always bigger than the male), the obvious consequence is that a female near-fledging age chick already dwarfs not only any male siblings, but also its father.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, green leaves Height above ground: 10 - 25 m

 

Collared Sparrowhawk's nest; looking from this angle, one might think that there is nobody home...
[Near Baradine, NSW, December 2011]

... but from one side one can see a long tail sticking out...
[Near Baradine, NSW, December 2011]

... and from another two heads can be discerned; mum's is partly obscured, while the white fluffy chick is clearly visible
[Near Baradine, NSW, December 2011]

Collared Sparrowhawk nest high up in a eucalypt
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, October 2013]

This bird was seen on the nest shown above; the grey cere indicates that this is a Collared Sparrowhawk (not a Brown Goshawk, which would have a yellow cere)
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, October 2013]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 40 x 31 mm Colour: Creamy, with sparse light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

 

Behaviour

We have observed a Collared Sparrowhawk carry its prey, a Noisy Miner, to the edge of the water of an ornamental pool, where we later found signs of the bird having been plucked - an expert explained to us that goshawks of the genus Accipiter have the habit of sometimes drowning their prey.

Just like the young of other bird species, young Collared Sparrowhawks need to learn their trade by practicing their hunting skills. The immature bird shown above was observed trying to catch a White-winged Chough. However, the bird - although causing a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood, with Australian Magpies (whom White-winged Choughs fear) and even Sulphur-crested Cockatoos hustling it - was not even taken serious by the family clan of usually timid White-winged Choughs. And their assessment was correct, because the young raptor left without a meal. This is of little surprise, considering that White-winged Choughs are the same size as a Collared Sparrowhawk.

However, Collared Sparrowhawks cause quite a stir among other, smaller birds. We have observed very upset Noisy Miners and Magpie-larks pestering a Collared Sparrowhawk.

Food, Diet

Adults: Small birds Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores. Collared Sparrowhawks prey on smaller birds, which they take in flight.

During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.

Adult male Collared Sparrowhawk with the leftovers of its last meal
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Adult male Collared Sparrowhawk plucking its prey, this time a Noisy Miner
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Raptors do not usually need much water, but this adult male Collared Sparrowhawk was desperate for a drink, appearing at an ornamental pond before being moved on by the local residents
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2015]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

cosphwk_20151225.mp3 cirrocephalus (NW NSW) Annoyed calls (pestered by Willie Wagtail) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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