email a friend
printable version
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number in the tens of thousands. The European population is estimated at 3,500-6,900 pairs, which equates to 7,000-13,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 75-94% of the global range (BirdLife International 2004), so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 7,400-18,400 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. This is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In Europe the population trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).

Behaviour The species is a migrant, likely wintering in sub-Saharan Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Birds leave their breeding grounds in September, returning in April and May. It is usually solitary, but may hunt in pairs, and travels in flocks on migration which become especially large at certain bottlenecks (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Snow and Perrins 1998). It is sometimes active at twilight, and frequently migrates at night using flapping flight (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It inhabits woody plains, often near water, and usually ranges up to 1,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Lizards and large insects (the latter especially in Africa) make up the majority of its diet (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site It nests in tree branches, preferring deciduous trees (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Deciduous forests in riparian zones appear to be the optimal habitat for this species (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

It is highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012). This species is considered undesirable for falconry in Georgia, and many are killed after being captured by falconers who are attempting to catch other, more desirable species (Orta and Marks 2014). Following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, the proportion of juvenile birds migrating over Eilat, Israel decreased, leading researchers to suggest that radioactive contamination may have resulted in a decrease in reproductive success (Yosef and Fornasari 2004).

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Orta, J. and Marks, J.S. 2014. Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes). In: J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D.A. Christie, and E. de Juana (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

Yosef, R. and Fornasari, L. 2004. Simultaneous decline in Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) populations and Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) reproductive success: coincidence or a Chernobyl legacy? Ostrich 75(1&2): 20-24.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Accipiter brevipes. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Severtsov, 1850)
Population size 10000-19999 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 660,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment