Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus)


French: Épervier minule German: Zwergsperber Spanish: Gavilancito chico
Other common names: African Little Sparrowhawk

Falco minullus


, 1800,

Gamtoos River, South Africa


Sometimes considered conspecific with A. erythropus (which see). Form tropicalis slightly paler than inland populations, but individual variation considerable, and species sometimes treated as monotypic. Proposed race infrequens (Namibia, N Botswana and Zimbabwe) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. minullus Daudin, 1800 – extreme E Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia S (away from E coast) to Angola, N Namibia, N Botswana, E & S South Africa and SW Mozambique.
  • A. m. tropicalis Reichenow, 1898 – S Somalia and coastal Kenya S to E Mozambique.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–25 cm; male 74–85 g, female 68–105 g; wingspan 39–52 cm. A tiny woodland hawk (smallest Accipiter) with barred underparts, white rump and... read more


    Vocalizes mainly near nest, where gives series of “kew-kew-kew” or “kik-kik-kik” notes. Calls often... read more


    Open woodland, savanna, forest edge and thornbrush, typically along rivers or in valleys; also uses... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small birds weighing 10–40 g, occasionally up to 80 g; also small mammals (including bats), lizards and large insects.... read more


    Nesting Mar–Jun in Ethiopia; Mar–May and Oct–Jan in Kenya; Aug–Dec in Zambia; Oct (laying) in SE Zimbabwe; Sept... read more


    Mostly sedentary. Reported to wander into drier areas in Kenya during wet season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and common even in small patches of habitat, quickly colonizing new exotic habitats and small plantations.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).