PHOTO CAPTION: Sparrowhawk

The term hawk refers to birds of prey in any of three senses:

  • Strictly, to mean any of the species in the genera: Accipiter, Micronisus, Melierax, Urotriorchis, and Megatriorchis. The widespread Accipiter genus includes goshawks, sparrowhawks, and the Sharp-shinned Hawk to name a few. These birds generally prefer woodland habitats. They favor the use of hunting by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails and a very keen eyesight.
  • More generally, to mean small to medium-sized birds that are members of the family Accipitridae, which includes the true hawks (Accipiters) and also eagles, kites, harriers, buzzards, and Old World vultures.
  • Loosely, to mean virtually almost any bird of prey.

The common names of birds in various parts of the world often use hawk loosely. For example, in North America, the buzzards (Buteo) are often called “hawks”.

True hawks form the sub-family Accipitrinae and most are in the genus Accipiter.

In February 2005 the Canadian scientist Dr Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian IQ in terms of their innovation in feeding habits. Hawks were named among the most intelligent birds based on this scale.

Hawks are believed to have excellent vision (as good as 20/2, about eight times more acute than humans with good eyesight).


  • Subfamily Accipitrinae
    • Genus Accipiter
      • Goshawk, A. gentilis
      • Sparrowhawk, A. nisus
      • Grey-bellied Goshawk, A. poliogaster
      • Crested Goshawk, A. trivirgatus
      • Sulawesi Goshawk, A. griseiceps
      • Red-chested Goshawk, A. toussenelii
      • African Goshawk, A. tachiro
      • Chinese Goshawk, A. soloensis
      • Frances’ Goshawk, A. francesii
      • Spot-tailed Goshawk, A. trinotatus
      • Grey Goshawk, A. novaehollandiae
      • Brown Goshawk, A. fasciatus
      • Black-mantled Goshawk, A. melanochlamys
      • Pied Goshawk, A. albogularis
      • Fiji Goshawk, A. rufitorques
      • White-bellied Goshawk, A. haplochrous
      • Moluccan Goshawk, A. henicogrammus
      • Grey-headed Goshawk, A. poliocephalus
      • New Britain Goshawk, A. princeps
      • Black Goshawk, A. melanoleucus
      • Henst’s Goshawk, A. henstii
      • Meyer’s Goshawk, A. meyerianus
      • Chestnut-flanked Sparrowhawk, A. castanilius
      • Nicobar Sparrowhawk, A. butleri
      • Levant Sparrowhawk, A. brevipes
      • Slaty-mantled Sparrowhawk, A. luteoschistaceus
      • Imitator Sparrowhawk, A. imitator
      • Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, A. erythropus
      • Little Sparrowhawk, A. minullus
      • Japanese Sparrowhawk, A. gularis
      • Small Sparrowhawk, A. nanus
      • Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk, A. erythrauchen
      • Collared Sparrowhawk, A. cirrocephalus
      • New Britain Sparrowhawk, A. brachyurus
      • Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk, A. rhodogaster
      • Madagascar Sparrowhawk, A. madagascariensis
      • Ovampo Sparrowhawk, A. ovampensis
      • Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, A. rufiventris
      • Shikra, A. badius
      • Tiny Hawk, A. superciliosus
      • Semicollared Hawk, A. collaris
      • Sharp-shinned Hawk, A. striatus
      • White-breasted Hawk, A. chionogaster
      • Plain-breasted Hawk, A. ventralis
      • Rufous-thighed Hawk, A. erythronemius
      • Cooper’s Hawk, A. cooperii
      • Gundlach’s Hawk, A. gundlachi
      • Bicoloured Hawk, A. bicolor
      • Besra, A. virgatus
    • Genus Micronisus
      • Gabar Goshawk, M. gabar
    • Genus Melierax
      • Dark Chanting Goshawk, M. metabates
      • Eastern Chanting Goshawk, M. poliopterus
      • Pale Chanting Goshawk, M. canorus
    • Genus Urotriorchis
      • Long-tailed Hawk, U. macrourus
    • Genus Erythrotriorchis
      • Red Goshawk, E. radiatus
      • Chestnut-shouldered Goshawk, E. buergersi
    • Genus Megatriorchis
      • Doria’s Goshawk, M. doriae