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A photo of a Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus)
Collared Sparrowhawk

Collared Sparrowhawk

Accipiter cirrocephalus

The Collared Sparrowhawk, a member of the Accipitridae family, is a small and agile bird of prey. It exhibits a fine build with rounded wings and a long, square tail. Adults are adorned with slate-grey upper parts, which may have a brownish tinge, and a distinctive chestnut half-collar. Their underparts are intricately barred with rufous and white, while the underwing and tail also display fine barring. The cere ranges from cream to olive-yellow, complementing their yellow eyes and legs.

Identification Tips

To identify the Collared Sparrowhawk, look for its slight brow ridges and slender feet, with the last segment of the middle toe extending beyond the claws of the other toes. Males are notably smaller than females, and juveniles can be recognized by their brown upper parts with pale streaks, as well as heavy brown streaking on the breast and coarse brown barring on the belly.

Habitat

This species thrives across a variety of habitats, from urban areas to forests, avoiding only the most arid deserts. It is a versatile resident, sometimes engaging in poorly understood migratory behaviors.

Distribution

The Collared Sparrowhawk is found throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and adjacent smaller islands. While widespread, it is generally uncommon and may be under-recorded due to its secretive nature.

Behaviour

The Collared Sparrowhawk is a specialist hunter of small birds, employing stealth and surprise. It hunts from concealed perches or in flight, often using undulating flights from tree to tree. It is also known to engage in low, fast flights, sometimes skimming over hedges.

Breeding

Breeding season spans from July to December, with nests built high in living trees. These nests are platforms lined with green leaves. Clutch sizes range from two to five eggs, with incubation lasting 35 days and fledglings depending on their parents for up to six weeks post-nesting.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned in the provided content.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists mainly of small birds, including the crested pigeon and spotted bowerbird, as well as insects, lizards, and small mammals. Prey is typically less than 100 grams, occasionally exceeding 200 grams.

Conservation status

The Collared Sparrowhawk is classified as Least Concern. It has experienced declines in heavily cleared areas and may be affected by the use of DDT, which has thinned its eggshells by 2%. It also faces competition and predation from the pied currawong.

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