Monday 19 December 2011


Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus). Adult female. Francis Martin.

The Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus) was another one of the target species in the SEO/BirdLife-brokered national woodland raptor survey 2009-2010 (Palomino and Valls, 2011). The estimated Extremadura population came out as 690 territories (range 630-750). This represents 5% of the Spanish total (13,810 territories), ranking eighth behind Andalucía (4270), Galicia (1470), Castilla y León (1450), Aragón (1330), Castilla-La Mancha (1280), Valencia (810) and Catalunya (700). Extremadura's mean density is 1.7 territories per 100 km2, below the national mean (2.7) and ranking a modest 11th in Spain.

Broken down by provinces, Cáceres accounts for 430 territories and Badajoz 260. The densities (2.2 in Cáceres and 1.2 in Badajoz) are among the lowest in Spain. In all it was detected in 25% of the surveyed 10 k grids (20% in Badajoz and 30% in Cáceres).

The Sparrow Hawk has a somewhat patchy range in Extremadura, preferring the more wooded and mountainous areas. As with the Goshawk, the likelihood of a sighting is high in La Siberia and Las Villuercas y Los Ibores. Unlike the Goshawk, however, it is also fairly abundant in other areas, like the Sistema Central, Monfragüe, Montánchez, centre of Badajoz, Tentudía and Vegas Bajas del Guadiana. In Spain the Sparrow Hawk picks out the rainier areas with conifer woods, diverse landscape and warm months of May.

Predictive map of the Sparrow Hawk's range in Spain, taken from Palomino and Valls (2011).

Car transects are not really a very suitable censusing method for this shy, low-profile raptor. In Extremadura only 3 birds were seen on average every 1000 k, a somewhat lower figure than the mean for the whole of Spain (0.4 per 100 km). It was detected in 17% of the surveyed 10k grids (19% in Badajoz and 15% in Cáceres).

The Sparrow Hawk's trend in Spain is uncertain according to the breeding birds monitoring project SACRE; its trend within Extremadura is equally unsure.

The fieldwork was coordinated and carried out by SEO volunteers and staff of the Environment Board of the Regional Council of Extremadura.

- Palomino, D., and Valls, J. 2011. Las rapaces forestales en España. Población reproductora en 2009-2010 y método de censo. SEO/BirdLife. Madrid. [PDF]