Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk (Accipiter rufiventris)


French: Épervier menu German: Rotbauchsperber Spanish: Gavilán papirrufo
Other common names: Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Red-breasted Sparrowhawk

Accipiter rufiventris

A. Smith

, 1830,

South Africa


Very close to A. nisus, of which sometimes considered a race (see A. nisus). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. perspicillaris (Rüppell, 1836) – Eritrea and Ethiopian Highlands.
  • A. r. rufiventris A. Smith, 1830 – scattered from Kenya and E DRCongo S to South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    29–36 cm; 180–210 g; wingspan 58–72 cm. Sexes similar. Adult slate above, rufous below except for throat and lower belly, which are white. Within range, the... read more


    Displaying adults emit sharp "kee-kee-kee-kee-kee" calls. Food-begging juveniles give mewing notes. read more


    Nests in montane forest but hunts over open habitats such as savanna, grassland and fynbos adjacent... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly birds of 10–90 g, up to size of pigeons, together with some bats, rodents, lizards and a few insects. Hunts from a perch... read more


    Laying Jul in Uganda; Sept–Dec in S Africa. Builds a platform of small sticks lined with leaves, bark and moss, 6–18 m up in... read more


    Generally sedentary, although may move down in elevation from montane forest during winter, as in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Locally common, as at density of 1 pair/23–33 km2 in Transvaal, South Africa. Vulnerable to degradation of small... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk (Accipiter rufiventris). 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 25 February 2020).