Simon Walker's picture

Sparrowhawk Markings

I've noticed recently that at least some male sparrowhawks have a white patch or patches on the back of their head/kneck (I don't know if this is true for females). If you look at the pictures on
you can see that one seems to have two spot, and the other a single patch. Any thoughts?



bobthebirder's picture


The white patch is due to the feathers on the nape being white at their base, darker at the tip. The white patch appears when the feathers are parted, as they often are in the sparrowhawk's normal movements and flight. So the extent of it varies according to how the feathers are arranged.

Bob Ford

MatthewGirling's picture

Darker breast

I've just had what I thought was a sparrowhawk on the holly tree by my window. It went for a goldfinch but missed.

I've never seem one before but its breast seemed too dark compared to the pictures in the book. Breast looked more like a mid-brown with dark brown spots. Is there something similar with these markings? Sorry but no photo.


ophrys's picture


It sounds as though it may have been a juvenile, as they have irregular dark spots rather than the neat bars of an adult. The darkness could be natural or could be because it has landed on muddy ground or similar. Difficult to be sure, of course! However, if it went for another bird, it sounds like a raptor, so Sparrowhawk is most likely.


My Flickr photos...

browntrumpet's picture


I agree it probably was a juvenile Sprawk but what about a female (or Juv) Kes? The dark spots on the breast made me think so and they are more likely to go for birds at this time of the year.