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Accipiter badius (Shikra, Little banded goshawk)

Gebande sperwer [Afrikaans]; Fiolo-'malisakhana [South Sotho]; Rukodzi (generic name for a small raptor such as falcon or sparrowhawk) [Shona]; Shikra [Dutch]; Épervier shikra [French]; Schikra [German]; Gavião-chicra [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae > Genus: Accipiter

Distributed through southern Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and sub-Saharan Africa. Found in open and closed woodlands, including in open semi-arid savanna. Lizards are the main item in its diet but it also eats insects, small birds, and more occasionally bats, rodents and frogs. 

Accipiter badius (Shikra, Little banded goshawk) Accipiter badius (Shikra, Little banded goshawk)

Shikra, Gambia. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Shikra, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forest of the DRC and West Africa. In southern Africa, it is scarce to common in the northern half of the region, including northern Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It can occur in a variety of woodland types, ranging from the open Kalahari to moist, closed-canopy broad-leaved woodland; it may also occupy gardens, parks and plantations.

Distribution of Shikra in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Its movements are not well understood, but it is thought to be largely resident. However, it tends to aggregate in western Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa in winter, which suggests that it might be a partial migrant.


It mainly eats lizards, hunting by flying from tree to tree, pausing on each perch to scan the surrounding area for prey. Once it spots something, it swoops down to the ground to pounce on its prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, performing a courtship display in which the breeding pair chase each other through the trees.
  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a saucer-shaped platform of twigs, with an interior cup lined with bark chips. It is typically placed in the fork of a large branch, especially of the following trees:
    • Eucalyptus
    • Jacaranda acutifolia (Jacaranda)
    • Burkea africana (Burkea)
    • Acacia nigrescens (Knob-thorn)
    • Acacia erioloba (Camel thorn)
    • Brachystegia glaucescens (Mountain-acacia)
    • Kirkia acuminata (White kirkia)
    • Colosphermum mopane (Mopane)
    • Terminalia sericea (Silver cluster-leaf)
  • Egg-laying season is from August-February, peaking from September-November.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 28-29 days, while the male feeds her at the nest. He may occasionally take over the incubating role so that the female can go and forage.
  • For the first two weeks or so of the chicks' lives they are cared for by the female, who feeds herself and her young with food provided by the male; after this period the female joins the male hunting. The chicks start exploring the nest tree at about 22 days old, fledging after another 10 days or so and becoming independent 30-40 days later. They tend to remain in their parent's territory for up to a year after fledging.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.