Accipiter nisus (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 130 (1766) ; (Naum.), i. p. 258, taf. 19, 20 : Hewitson, i. p. 35, pl. xii ; Gould, B. of Gt. Brit. i. pl. 11 ; Newton, i. p. 88 ; Dresser, v. p. 599, pls. 355, 356, 357, 358 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 132 ; Blanf. F Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 402 ; Saunders, p. 333 ; Lilford, i. p. 66, pls. 30, 31, 32, 33 ; A. fringillarius (Savigny), Desc, de l'Egypt Ois. p, 270 (1808) ; Gould, B. of E. i. pit 18 ; A. pallens, Stejn. Proc. U. S. Mus. xvi. p. 625 (1893) ; A, granti, Sharpe, Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist, v, p. 483 (1890).
L. Epervier, French ; Gaviao, Portug. ; Gavilan, Span. ; Sparviere, Ital. ; Sperber, German ; Sperwer, Dutch ; Spurvehoeg, Dan. and Norweg. ; Sparfhok, Swed.; Varpuishaukka, Nuoli-haukka, Finn. ; Jastreb-perepclatnik, Russ. ; Tholea, Arab. ; Basha, Pers. ; Basha female, Bashin male Hindu. ; Haitaka, Konori, Jap.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts dark slate-grey, the nape marked with white and a narrow superciliary stripe white ; quills and tail greyish brown with dark transverse Lands ; under parts rufous white, sometimes rich rufous, barred with rufous brown ; bill dark horn-blue ; cere, legs, and feet yellow ; iris orange. Culmen 0.65, wing 7.9, tail 6.5, tarsus 2.15 inch. The female is considerably larger than the male, viz. culmen 0.8, wing 9.2, tail 7.2, tarsus 2.4 inch, and the old bird has the under parts white, but little tinged with rufous except on the flanks, and barred with brown. The young bird is dark brown above with rusty margins to the feathers, the quills and tail with dark bars ; below dull white streaked and to some extent irregularly barred with dark brown. This species is however subject to considerable variation in colour and markings.
Hab. Europe generally, north to the Arctic Circle ; North Africa in winter, south to Kordofan and Sennaar ; Asia Minor, Palestine, and Asia generally, north to Kamchatka, east to Japan, and south to India, Corea, and China.
Extremely bold, swift, active on the wing and fierce, the Sparrow Hawk is not only a terror to small birds, but a sore pest to the game preserver and poultry breeder. It frequents not only woodlands and plains, but may also be met with in the mountains. It feeds chiefly on birds, and will attack a bird as large as itself, but its chief food consists of small and young birds, Wood Pigeons, young Rabbits, Leverets, etc. Its alarm note is a tolerably shrill kirk, kirk, kirk, and in the breeding season it utters a soft gu, gu, gu. It usually builds its own nest, a somewhat flat structure of sticks lined with finer twigs, placed on a tree often at a considerable altitude ; it will, however, occasionally make use of a deserted crow’s nest. The eggs, 4 to 5, sometimes 6 or 7, in number, are deposited in May, and are white tinged with pale green or blue, more or less blotched and marked with chestnut-red, reddish brown, or dark brown, and in size average 1.55 by 1.27.
748. Accipiter nisus