The Levant sparrowhawk is small for a raptor, measuring 32–38 cm in length with a wingspan of 65–75 cm. As with all raptors, the female is larger than the male. The adult male is blue-grey above and pale below, with underparts and leg feathers finely barred in rufous and white. His head is blue-grey as well, with a white throat bisected by a dark central stripe (sometimes quite faint). The female is similar, though her plumage is generally a darker brownish-grey. Both sexes have orangish-yellow legs and a yellow cere.
Distribution and Habitat
The Levant sparrowhawk is found in Europe (including Bulgaria), Asia and Africa. It inhabits wooded areas in the vicinity of lakes and rivers, in the foothills and mainly in the plains. The Levant sparrowhawk breeds in forests from Greece and the Balkans in the east to southern Russia.
On the territory of Bulgaria it is a wandering and migrating species and is found mainly along the large rivers Arda, Maritsa, Tundzha, Struma, Danube, their tributaries and along the Black Sea coast.
The Levant sparrowhawk winters in Africa. Spring migration is in April-May, and autumn – in August-September.
It migrates through Bulgaria in small groups (spring and autumn) or in flocks (autumn) reaching 100-150 birds. The peak is around the middle of September. Flocks do not fly at high altitudes (150 -200 m), and autumn migrations to the northeast (Black Sea coast) have been observed without birds migrating to the south.
The hawk’s food is varied. It is a bird of prey, feeding on small animals, birds, lizards, insects. Most often it hunts in the afternoon and evening, flying low above the ground (1-5 meters).
The Levant sparrowhawk breeds from mid-May through August. The pair is territorial while breeding, often performing high-circling aerial displays. The female is thought to make the nest.She builds a new one every year, a small structure of twigs on a branch or in a fork of a broad-leaved tree. The nest tree is often near running water, typically in open woodland, on a forest edge, or in an isolated clump of trees. The nest, which measures up to 30 cm across and 15 cm deep, is lined with green leaves. Most nests are located between 5–10 m above the ground, but they have been found as low as 4 m and as high as 20 m.
The female lays a clutch of 2–5 eggs which she alone incubates for 30–35 days.Hatching is asynchronous. Nestlings fledge some 40–45 days after hatching, and are independent about 15 days later.
Because of its vast range and stable population, the Levant сparrowhawk is listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The development of wind farms may affect its numbers.