A bird-hunting specialist, the diet of the Eurasian sparrowhawk consists almost exclusively of small and medium-sized birds (2). A huge variety of species are taken, for example in Europe, smaller birds such as finches, sparrows, buntings, larks and tits are typical prey items, along with larger species such as pigeons and gamebirds (2) (4). As a result of its larger size, the adult female Eurasian sparrowhawk generally takes larger prey than the male (4). Hunting tactics usually involve surprise attacks, either dashing out from a concealed perch or flying low along hedges, streams and woodland edges, before making a sudden change in direction and snatching prey with its powerful talons (2) (7).
The Eurasian sparrowhawk’s breeding season occurs between mid-April and the end of August, according to latitude (7), and coincides with the maximum availability of nestlings and young of its preferred prey species (2). The breeding pair constructs a nest in the lower crown of a tree on a fork or branch, usually in woodland bordering a clearing. The nest comprises a platform of sticks, in which the female lays a clutch of between three to six eggs (2). After an incubation period of around 32 to 34 days, the chicks hatch and are brooded by the female, while the male supplies food for around three weeks, after which time both parent birds provide food (2) (5). Fledging occurs around one month after hatching, but the young continue to be fed by the parent birds for a further three to four weeks. Sexual maturity is reached between one and three years old, and the lifespan is typically seven years (2).