Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Red-legged Sparrowhawk (Accipiter erythropus)


French: Épervier de Hartlaub German: Waldsperber Spanish: Gavilancito patirrojo
Other common names: Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Western Little Sparrowhawk

Nisus erythropus


, 1855,

Rio Bontry, Ghana


Sometimes considered conspecific with A. minullus, and the two occasionally hybridize in region of DRCongo–Rwanda border; a very close relationship has been postulated#R, but recent phylogenetic analyses indicate a genetic divergence between them of 5.1%#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. e. erythropus (Hartlaub, 1855) – Senegambia to Nigeria.
  • A. e. zenkeri Reichenow, 1894 – Cameroon E to DRCongo and locally W Uganda (Semliki Forest)#R, S to N Angola and C DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    22–28 cm; male 78–94 g, female 132–170 g; wingspan 45–57 cm. Very small size, although A. minullus is marginally smaller; plump-looking, with... read more


    Very similar to A. minullus in giving a fast-paced shrill "kew-kew-kew..."... read more


    Lowland tropical evergreen rain forest (perhaps especially around clearings and openings) and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small birds, such as waxbills or weavers, and large insects, such as caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and alate... read more


    Courtship behaviour unknown. Nest-building Nov in Ivory Coast and Mar in Benin; laying Dec–Mar in Gabon; Mar–May in Sierra... read more


    None recorded. Apparently sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Small size suggests may occur at high density in pristine forest, large tracts of which remain in C Africa. Vulnerable to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-legged Sparrowhawk (Accipiter erythropus). 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 24 February 2020).