Perth Raptor Care

Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocaphalus

Adult Sparrowhawk

Characteristics in Captivity

Like all the true hawks (accipiters), the Sparrowhawk is a jumpy nutcase. They are very instinct driven birds, and as such, will not learn quickly, and therefore find captivity difficult to adjust to. They react to stimuli without thinking, so it is best to remove the things they react to. Cover hospital boxes completely and keep noises to a minimum. Unless the hawk is unable to move around, a tail sheath should be fitted. Keeping the hospital area darkened or dim goes a long way to keeping these guys calm. In outdoor enclosures, a lot of foliage and hiding places should be available to them. The males are the smallest raptor in Australia, and because they are so delicate, can be difficult to have success with in rehabilitation.

To get these guys started on food can sometimes be difficult. They seem to have a fairly set "search image" for what food looks like. If you are feeding something different to what they normally catch, try opening the carcass, as the red colour instinctively attracts their attention. Try also putting bites in their mouth to get them thinking along the lines of food. If this fails after several days, try sticking the food animal through a gap or hole in the hospital box and wiggling it. Watch your fingers! If this still doesn't work to get them self feeding, you may try putting a live food animal in with the bird (eg. small mouse, cricket, mealworms on a dead mouse). When doing this, make sure the hawk is coherent enough to deal with it. You don't want to have to add a mouse bite to the injuries you are already treating.

Hunting Strategies

These are the bush-bashers of the bird world. They have an amazing acceleration, and will chase through, over or under in a flat out sprint. The Sparrowhawk will take small birds, mammals, insects and reptiles. They hunt from a concealed perch. Prey can be up to the size of a feral dove for the female. These hawks will also try for caged birds, as the wire looks to them as if they should be able to push it aside, like twigs on a bush.


Sparrowhawks seem to adapt well to eating all the usual captive diets. I prefer not to feed them day old chicks, though. This is because their high metabolism is geared to rich red meat as in wild small birds, rather than pale meat and high fat content as in chicks.
Juvenile Sparrowhawk (the same individual as above)


Female : 180 - 290g. Male : 113 - 155g.

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