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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Accipiter  (sparrowhawks and goshawks)

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

Distributed worldwide (except Antarctica) with six of the 54 species found in southern Africa. 

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Accipiter badius (Shikra, Little banded goshawk)

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 melanoleucus (Black sparrowhawk) 

Accipiter minullus (Little sparrowhawk) 

Occurs in central, east and southern Africa in, and on the border of, wooded habitats such as forest, woodland, thicket and alien trees. Preys mainly on small birds (up to the size of doves) but also attacks small mammals (rodents, bats), lizards and insects.  

Accipiter ovampensis (Ovambo sparrowhawk) 

Accipiter rufiventris (Rufous-chested sparrowhawk, Red-breasted sparrowhawk) 

Accipiter tachiro (African goshawk) 

Widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara in woodland, forest, alien plantations and wooded urban areas. Makes its presence known in an area by taking early morning flights high above the ground and emitting its clicking call (like two stones hit together at 2-3 second intervals). Preys mainly on birds (up to the size of francolins and domestic chickens and including nestlings) but also on small mammals (bats, squirrels, mice) and lizards. More rarely feeds on snakes, frogs, earthworms and insects.