The Madagascan Sparrowhawk can be found throughout Madagascar where it is thinly distributed, except along the central ridge and plateau.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk frequents a variety of forest habitats including the dry spiny forest in SW. It occurs mainly in the primary forest, but it rarely frequents secondary and degraded habitats.
The species is present from sea-level to 1,500 metres of elevation, but it is mainly recorded below 1,000 metres.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk gives usually a single, short, squeaky “whik”, “whisk” or “eeesk” repeated and very mechanical. We can also hear fast “kee” notes given during food transfer from male to female near the nest. These calls are typically heard in the early morning.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk feeds mainly on birds up to the size of Namaqua Dove and Madagascar Magpie-Robin but is also takes insects, some frogs and geckos.
Birds are the main prey. It hunts from concealed perches on lower branches, perching motionless for long periods while watching for food. It pursues the prey in swift, turning flight, following every movement made by its future victim.
Some insects such as crickets can be taken on wing. Frogs and geckos are caught on the ground.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is usually seen alone or in airs. It is often perched in the canopy of the primary forest, but it may occasionally soar above the trees.
It is not recorded to perform flight displays over the forest, and the pair formation is not studied.
The copulation occurs after transport of materials to the nest. Then, both mates call loudly.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is resident, but immatures are apparently more nomadic.
It flies rapidly when hunting and pursuing a prey. It is able to follow every movement by using its long tail to manoeuvre. It may pursue a prey over considerable distances with sustained flight.

The laying occurs in October/November.
The Madagascan Sparrowhawk builds a typical platform with small branches and lined with softer twigs. It is placed high in forest tree, between 20 and 28 metres above the ground.
From observations of several pairs, a new nest is built every year, about 2,5 km from the previous. Both adults share this work, but the male does most of building.

The female lays 1-4 white, unmarked eggs or with variable darker markings. The incubation is mainly by the female and she is fed by the male during this period that lasts 35 days.
The male brings the food and the female feeds the chicks after transfer from male to female on branch, 30-40 metres from the nest.
The young leave the nest at 36-39 days old, but they return to the nest for roosting at night until 52 days of age. They are independent at 60-67 days.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is threatened by habitat loss through clearance and degradation of forest and human activities.
The population is roughly estimated to number 3,300/6,700 mature individuals and is suspected to be declining due to forest destruction.
The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is currently classified as Near Threatened.   

Fr: Épervier de Madagascar
Ang: Madagascan Sparrowhawk
All: Madagaskarsperber
Esp: Gavilán Malgache
Ita: Sparviere del Madagascar
Nd: Madagaskarsperwer
Sd: madagaskarsparvhök
Mal: Firasa, firasambalala, Pera, Tsipara


John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912)

Illustration Origin:
Recherches sur la faune de Madagascar et de ses dépendances d'après les découvertes de François P.L. Pollen et D.C. van Dam

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 2 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334156

BIRDS OF PREY OF AFRICA AND ITS ISLANDS by Alan and Meg Kemp - Struik Publishers - ISBN: 1770073698

RAPTORS OF THE WORLD by James Ferguson-Lees et David Christie - Helm Identification Guides – ISBN: 0713680261  

The Birds of Africa: Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mascarenes - Par Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1408190494, 9781408190494- Editeur: A&C Black, 2013

Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide Par Pete Morris, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 0300077556, 9780300077551- Editeur: Yale University Press, 1998

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Global Raptor Information Network - Working to Conserve Birds of Prey in nature


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Madagascan Sparrowhawk
Accipiter madagascariensis

Accipitriformes Order – Accipiptridae Family

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is endemic to Madagascar where it is considered rare and not frequently seen. But it is probably under-recorded and perhaps not so uncommon.
This species frequents the primary rainforest and the wooded savannas, and can be seen in dry thorny forest and scrub in SW. It is present throughout the range except in secondary and degraded habitats.
The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is threatened by destruction and degradation of the forest, and its population is declining due to habitat loss. It is currently classified as Near Threatened.

Length: 29-42 cm
Wingspan: 50-69 cm
Weight: F: 285-348 g

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk male has dark greyish-brown upperparts. The nape feathers have white bases, whereas the rump feathers have rufous tips. The flight-feathers are dark grey above and paler below with contrasting broad brown bars. The tail is grey-brown with darker bands, but it appears uniformly dark.  
The underparts are white and sharply barred dark grey. The throat is mostly streaked dark grey while the vent is uniformly white.
The head is dark grey-brown to slate grey, but the ear-coverts are streaked dark grey.
The bill is black with yellow cere. The eyes are yellow. Legs and feet are greenish-yellow.

The Madagascan Sparrowhawk is slightly larger than Frances’s Sparrowhawk, but it looks slim and small compared to Henst’s Goshawk. Male and female resemble female Accipiter nisus.

The adult female is browner above and more heavily barred below. Head and cheeks are darker. She is about 18% larger than male.

The juvenile is paler brown above with white streaking on nape and pale rufous edging giving scaled effect. The underparts are creamy-white with variable brown streaking. The underwing is barred.

John Gerrard Keulemans