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Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Photo Information
Copyright: Damian Stepien (Kasek) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 74 W: 13 N: 50] (284)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2012-02-05
Categories: Birds
Camera: panasonic DMC FZ30
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2012-02-06 2:30
Viewed: 2647
Points: 12
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hello, this time (after long long break) I want to share with you a photo of beautiful Eurasian Sparrowhawk. It's visitin my garden from time to time, tryin to catch Great Tits or some other little birds that are dining there. Hope to see some opinions ;)

according to wikipedia:

The Eurasian (or Northern) Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. Adult male Eurasian Sparrowhawks have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The female is up to 25% larger than the male one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species. Though it is a predator which specialises in catching woodland birds, the Eurasian Sparrowhawk can be found in any habitat and often hunts garden birds in towns and cities. Males tend to take smaller birds, including tits, finches, and sparrows; females catch primarily thrushes and starlings, but are capable of killing birds weighing 500 grams (18 oz) or more.

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is found throughout the temperate and subtropical parts of the Old World; while birds from the northern parts of the range migrate south for winter, their southern counterparts remain resident or make dispersive movements. Eurasian Sparrowhawks breed in suitable woodland of any type, with the nest, measuring up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) across, built using twigs in a tree. Four or five pale blue, brown-spotted eggs are laid; the success of the breeding attempt is dependent on the female maintaining a high weight while the male brings her food. The chicks hatch after 33 days and fledge after 24 to 28 days.

The proportion of juveniles surviving their first year is 34%, with 69% of adults surviving from one year to the next. Mortality in young males is greater than that of young females and the typical lifespan is four years. This species is now one of the commonest birds of prey in Europe, although the population crashed after the Second World War. Organochlorine insecticides used to treat seeds before sowing built up in the bird population and the concentrations in Eurasian Sparrowhawks were enough to kill some outright and incapacitate others; affected birds laid eggs with fragile shells which broke during incubation. However, its population recovered after the chemicals were banned, and it is now relatively common, classified as being of Least Concern by BirdLife International.

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk's hunting behaviour has brought it into conflict with humans for hundreds of years, particularly racing pigeon owners and people rearing poultry and gamebirds. It has also been blamed for decreases in passerine populations; scientific research has found no link between increased numbers of Eurasian Sparrowhawks and declines in some farmland and woodland birds after World War II. Studies of racing pigeon deaths found that Eurasian Sparrowhawks were responsible for less than 1%. Falconers have utilised the Eurasian Sparrowhawk since at least the 16th century; although the species has a reputation for being difficult to train, it is also praised for its courage. The species features in Teutonic mythology and is mentioned in works by writers including William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Ted Hughes.
The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is a small bird of prey with short, broad wings and a long tail, both adaptations to manoeuvring through trees. Females can be up to 25% larger than males[8] and weigh up to twice as much.[18] When females are larger than males, it is known as reverse sexual dimorphism; this is unusual in higher vertebrates but typical in birds of prey,[19] and most marked in birds of prey which hunt birds.[18]

The adult male is 2934 cm (1113 in) long, with a wingspan of 5964 cm (2325 in)[8] and a mass of 110196 g (3.96.9 oz).[12] He has slate-grey upperparts (sometimes tending to bluish), with finely red-barred underparts, which can look plain orange from a distance; his irides are orange-yellow or orange-red. The female is much larger at 3541 cm (1416 in) long, with a wingspan of 6780 cm (2631 in),[8] and a mass of 185342 g (6.512.1 oz).[12] She has dark brown or greyish-brown upperparts, and brown-barred underparts, and bright yellow to orange irides. The juvenile is warm brown above, with rusty fringes to the upperparts; and coarsely barred or spotted brown below, with pale yellow eyes;[15] its throat has dark streaks and lacks a mesial (midline) stripe.[14]

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk's pale underparts and darker upperparts are an example of countershading, which helps to break up the bird's outline. Countershading is exhibited by birds of prey which hunt birds and other fast-moving animals. The horizontal barring seen on adult Eurasian Sparrowhawks is typical of woodland-dwelling predatory birds, while the adult male's bluish colour is also seen in other bird-eating raptors, including the Peregrine Falcon, the Merlin and other Accipiters.
A study, using stuffed bird models, found that small birds are less likely to approach Common Cuckoos (a brood parasite) which have barred underparts like the Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Eurasian Reed Warblers were found to be more aggressive to cuckoos which looked less hawk-like, meaning that the resemblance to the hawk helps the cuckoo to access the nests of potential hosts.[21]

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk's small bill is used for plucking feathers and pulling prey apart, rather than killing or cutting. Its long legs and toes are an adaptation for catching and eating birds. The outer toe is "fairly long and slender"; the inner toe and back toe are relatively short and thick. The middle toe is very long and can be used to grasp objects, while a protuberance on the underside of the toe means that the digit can be closed without leaving a gap, which helps with gripping.[20]

The flight is a characteristic "flap-flap-glide", with the glide creating an undulating pattern.[22] This species is similar in size to the Levant Sparrowhawk, but larger than the Shikra (the calls are however different[23]); the male is only slightly larger than the Merlin. Because of the overlap in sizes, the female can be confused with the similarly-sized male Northern Goshawk, but lacks the bulk of that species. Eurasian Sparrowhawks are smaller, more slender and have shorter wings, a square-ended tail and fly with faster wingbeats.[15] A confusion species in China is the Besra, although A. n. melaschistos is considerably larger.[24]

In Great Britain, Eurasian Sparrowhawks living further north are bigger than their more southerly counterparts, with wing length (the most reliable indicator of body size) increasing by an average of 0.86 mm (0.034 in) in males, and 0.75 mm (0.030 in) in females, for each degree further north.

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To pirate: Thank you.Kasek 1 02-07 02:20
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Hi Damian
nice portrait of a female Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
the compo is a bit too centered imho, putting the hawk to the left would have been better

Hello Damian,
A very good shot,good moment,good sharpness and details and colours.
Best regards

nice picture, good sharpness and colour. composition is bit centered, never mind.

a great snapshot - very clear and sharp. such a beautiful bird. TFS

Hi, Damian
As Tom (Pirate) says, this is an adult female Sparrowhawk. the long, thin toes, proportionately smaller head and the fact that, as you say, it comes into gardens hunting small birds all confirm this. Nicely sharp and evenly lit, and the bird looks very much at ease. However, a different crop would have improved the image in my opinion. Despite this, it's a very nice photograph.
Regards, Nigel.

Czesc Damian,
super ujecie tego ptaka. Bardzo dobra ostrosc i punkt widzenia.

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