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Ovambo Sparrowhawk
Accipiter ovampensis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Increasing.

Other Names: Ovampa Sparrowhawk, Ovampo Sparrowhawk.

Accipiter ovampensis
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Distribution: Afrotropical. SENEGAMBIA, SIERRA LEONE, and GHANA east to ETHIOPIA and south to ANGOLA, northern NAMIBIA, northern BOTSWANA, and northern SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: May represent an early offshoot of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus group which has become adapted to dry country, and its morphological differences (longer wings, shorter tail and tarsi) may be adaptations related to the habitat differences (Snow 1978).

Movements: Partial migrant and also engages in movements in response to rainfall changes (Bildstein 2006). Movements are poorly understood and complex. It is inexplicably absent seasonally from certain areas, but not in a consistent pattern from one locality to the next. Probably a breeding migrant only to western and eastern Africa and generally resident in the southern portions of its range in southern Africa. more.....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in savannas and tall deciduous woodlands, including exotic tree plantations (especially in South Africa). Found commonly at the interface between bushveld (savanna) and the highveld grassland in the former Transvaal (Tarboton 1990). Unobtrusive and perches high up on the edge of tall woodland. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on small birds, which it usually captures after fast pursuits. Mostly hunts from an exposed or concealed perch, but also soars at times and stoops at prey, a behavior that Allan and Hustler (1984) described as falcon-like. more....

Breeding: Breeding was recorded from September-January in the Southern Africa Bird Atlas Project, occurring slightly earlier in Zimbabwe than in the former Transvaal (Allan 1997). The small stick nest is placed high in the crown of a large tree. Nesting in patches of tall alien trees, especially gray poplars, has probably greatly expanded its breeding range. This species is displaced from tree plantations by the Black Sparrowhawk. The nest is built by both sexes. The clutch size is usually 3-4 eggs (rarely 2-5). Only the female incubates, and the male provides her with food. more....

Conservation: Rather uncommon in the more northern portions of its range, but widespread and common in many portions of southern Africa. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Important References: 
Allan, D.G. 1997. Ovambo Sparrowhawk. Pp. 220-221 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Allan, D., and C.W. Hustler. 1984. The biology of the Ovambo Sparrowhawk.
  Pp. 57-59 in J.M. Mendelsohn and C.W. Sapsford (eds.), Proceedings of the
  2nd Symposium on African Predatory Birds. Natal Bird Club, Durban South
Brown, L.J., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Ginn, P.J., W.G. McIlleron, and P.le S. Milstein. 1989. The complete book
  of southern African birds. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa.
Hockey, P.A.R., W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan (eds.). 2005. Roberts birds of
  Southern Africa, VIIth ed. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Ovambo Sparrowhawk. P. 158 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Kemp, A.C., and M.I. Kemp. 1975. Observations on the breeding biology of
  the Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Accipiter ovampensis Gurney (Aves: Accipitridae).
  Annals of the Transvaal Museum 29:185-190.
Kemp, A., and M. Kemp. 1998. Birds of prey of Africa and its islands. New
  Holland Publishers, London.
Snow, D.W. 1978. An atlas of speciation in African non-passerine birds.
  Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), London.
Steyn, P. 1982. Birds of prey of Southern Africa: their identification and
  life histories. David Phillip, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sites of Interest:
Ovambo Sparrowhawk photos.

Last modified: 5/15/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 21 Oct. 2020

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