Collared Sparrowhawk: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through bird books trying to find the most amazing birds of prey, then you can’t go far wrong with this next candidate: the Collared Sparrowhawk.

Native to Australia and the surrounding New Guinea islands, this bird is an expert in hunting small birds.

Not only does this beast have specially adapted toes to help it with hunting, but it also has keen eyes – which are colored a piercing yellow – and a mighty wingspan that helps it hover and dive when hunting.

This creature is different from other sparrowhawks in that it has rounded wings, a shorter tail and a broader wingspan, all of which help it to nest, hunt and mate.

It has a beautiful streaking pattern on the underbelly, which helps it to blend in with the dense forest canopy in which it lives.

But where can you locate one of these birds? What are the mating patterns of the Collared Sparrowhawk? How are the females different from the males?

What sound do they make when they’re mating? How long do they live on average? Are they hostile towards humans? What shape are their feathers?

Well, if you are hungry for info on this sparrowhawk, then we would certainly recommend that you keep on reading. We have the complete profile on this creature, covering all of its little behavioral traits.


This hawk is around 29 – 38 cm, with its tail taking up around half of that length. It has a large wingspan of around 55 – 80 cm, with the female weighing slightly heavier than the male. In fact, the female is over double the weight of the male.

They have slate grey upper body parts with a brown wash on the back, along with a bright white plumage on the belly with streaks. This bird is obviously called collar for a reason and that collar is a chestnut brown color.

The cere of this bird is cream or greenish-yellow. It has the most striking yellow eyes with a beak to match. The beak is tapered and hooked, growing dark at the end.

Male Vs Female

The females are very similar in look to the males, although they are often bigger. The juveniles have a lighter brown fur which turns whiter as they get older.

Are They Aggressive?

These birds can be aggressive with predators, but there is a history of the sparrowhawk being very well trained, making excellent hunting birds. They will generally not attack human beings if they are not prompted.

In the wild, if you get too close to this bird’s nest, then they will start to cry and might circle you before attacking.

We would generally recommend against trying to climb up into a collared sparrowhawk’s nest, even if it is just for observation.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

This creature has a more pronounced claw in the middle segment of their toes, this is to aid hunting and makes them effective at killing prey very quickly.

They have fine brown barring on their breast to help them camouflage into the wooded areas in which they live.

This bird also has incredible eyesight that will help them spot prey from up to a mile away. This makes them one of the deadliest predators in the Australian outback.

Breeding/reproduction Behaviour

The Collared Sparrowhawk will usually lay its eggs from July to December. They are solitary nesters, with the female and the male taking care of the chicks.

The clutch of eggs that they will lay will range from 3 – 4. They will usually lay 3 to 5 clutches in their lifetime.

The incubation period will last around 35 days, which is common for a hawk of this size. The female will often keep the eggs incubated while the male goes searching for food. The nesting period will usually be about 28-33 days.

The fledglings will be able to leave the nest after 6 weeks, after which point the young will fly away and leave the parents.

The sexual maturity of this bird will be reached after one year, with younglings sometimes breeding even with their juvenile plumage.

Their Calls/Sounds

This bird will usually make a shrieking ‘kee-kee-kee’ sound, either to attract a mate or to alert its existing mate to oncoming predators.

They often cry during the mating seasons, with the female emitting more of a drawn-out sound to attract a male.

What Do They Eat? (Diet)

Collared Sparrowhawk

The collared sparrowhawk eats small birds, mainly crested pigeons and spotted bowerbirds. These birds are very large, but this does not daunt this sparrowhawk. These animals also graze on insects and small lizards that are found nesting in the trees.

These sparrowhawks will always hunt in flight, relying on stealth and surprise to catch their prey. This will forage for food by rustling through the trees or perched on branches, hopping from tree-to-tree as it gets closer to the prey.

Where Do They Live? (Habitat)

These animals are found in the dier mainland areas of Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. They occasionally have been seen near urban areas, often searching for rodents or often seen picking at human trash.

This bird is known to migrate during the winter, but it is only over short distances. However, the large-scale migration of this bird is not known very well by observers.

What Are Their Nesting Habits?

The sparrowhawk will often nest between the months of May and July, building it out of dry sticks and lining it with green leaves. The male will often do all of the hunting, bringing the food back to the female and the chicks on a daily basis.

How long Do They Live? (Lifespan)

There are slight differences in the lifespan of the male and the female sparrowhawk. The female will live slightly longer, often around 11-12 years, while the male will generally only live to 9.

In captivity, the lifespan of these sparrowhawks has been seen to double, with males living to 18 and females living to around 24.

What Predators Do They Have?

These birds have no natural predators, being large and swift enough to evade the attack of most smaller birds.

The only threat that this creature has in the wild is from human beings, who can decimate the hawk population by destroying their territory and eradicating major food sources.

What Are Their Feathers Like?

This bird has shorter feathers, which allows them to navigate the dense forest area in which they live. They have grey feathers on the head and chestnut-colored feathers on the collar. The belly is white but streaked with chestnut stripes.

The feathers on the tail are shorter than most other sparrowhawks, although the wing feathers are much longer. They are also slightly turned up at the end, which helps the bird to steer itself and maintain a steady height when it is hunting.

What Does Their Poop Look Like?

This bird’s poop is often brown and very sticky. You can often see it covering the tree branches below their nest. This bird will produce quite a lot of poop and there have been reports of sparrowhawks nesting in barns that have made quite a mess.

Do They Migrate?

This bird is semi-migratory and only really moves short distances when they are migrating. This is because the temperature of this bird’s climate is quite warm all year-round. There is very little known about this bird’s migratory habits.

Conservation Status

This bird is not considered to be endangered and is given the ‘least concern’ rating by conservation experts. This bird is very secretive, so it is difficult for a lot of poachers and hunters to find it. This also makes it difficult for observers to monitor its numbers in the wild.

One major reason for the loss of numbers of this bird was the introduction of the poison DDT, which has since been banned by the Endangered Species Act.

Also, the increase of predatory birds such as the pied currawong resulted in more adolescent and baby sparrowhawks being killed.

Fun Facts

This sparrowhawk will only eat the flesh of its prey, often leaving the bones. However, it can break the bones of its prey to get to the meat.

There have been many rumors that sparrowhawks eat cats, which is not true. A hawk will only attack a domestic animal if it is near their eggs.

Sparrowhawks were once considered to be rare, but in the last 100 or so years, their numbers have increased by a whopping 108%.

Even though these creatures are very formidable predators, they will steer clear of eagles, owls and crows. Snakes and crows also have a habit of stealing sparrowhawk eggs.