libby.keen's picture

Male or Female? Age?

Observed: 23rd February 2013 By: libby.keenlibby.keen’s reputation in Birds

Hello my name is Libby Keen I do Taxidermy as a hobby, I came across this Sparrow Hawk in Feb thanks to a friend. He had this beautiful creature in his freezer for some time when it had an unfortunite accident with his window.
Before I get some glass eyes for it I need to know if its a Male or Female. As age and gender have different eye colours.
Anywho it isn't red/orange on the front to suggest a male, not sure if they just have orange breast in breeding season.
Its 36cm in lengh to suggest a male as there smaller, and he has the slate coloured back to suggest male too. But I thought they had orange/red breast all year, unless this is a immature male?
You can see my confusion, so I will leave it to the pro's I hope you can help me as I will be very grateful.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Sparrowhawk interacts


ophrys's picture


Ideally, you need to give pics from above, to see the feathers on the back, and wing from above. That helps to age it...buff edges to feathers is an immature bird

If you can measure the wing from wrist to wing tip, as shown in a pic here...


Male wing is 188-212mm
Female wing is 222-256mm

This site might help, too...


My Flickr photos...

libby.keen's picture

Sorry if anyone is offended

Sorry if anyone is offended by these photos.
It is a beautiful creature I would rather see it alive chasing birds, however thats not the case anymore due to an accident that couldn't be helped, now I want to reddeem its once living spirit through Taxidermy so others can enjoy to see this bird up close.

libby.keen's picture

Hello Ian, these 3 photos are

Hello Ian, these 3 photos are all I got.
Im afraid I cant take a photo of its inner wings spread as its frozrn solid.

Many thanks Libby

ophrys's picture


Looks like a female, but measure the wing from wrist to wing tip, as it lies, and compare to the measurements I gave above. The wing is in the position to measure, though try to straighten the feathers if you can.


My Flickr photos...

libby.keen's picture

Brilliant thank you Ian, you

Brilliant thank you Ian, you have been such a big help and so quickly too!!
I found it very confusing cause it looks like a male to me, but no orange on it?

Do the mature males have red/orange breast all year round or just in the breeding season?

Would you say this is a young female then, as its not that big and not that brown?

I checked out your photos, there very detailed, I geuss you ring birds then as a profession or hobby.
Sorry about all the questions

ophrys's picture


Probably a female approaching adult plumage, perhaps in its second spring. Males do have the red year round, once they reach maturity. Bird ringing is just a hobby, but a privilege to see the birds close up, as you will realise from taxidermy.


My Flickr photos...

bobthebirder's picture


There are several features of this bird that point strongly to it being a female:

size - this looks way too big for a male
colouration - males have more red around the face
and most importantly,
supercilium - the white stripe over the eye is never this strong in males

Looks like an adult to me, but I don't think we can be sure from this photo. By the way, young birds are the same size as adults once they have fledged.

Bob Ford

libby.keen's picture

This is very interesting Im

This is very interesting Im learning alot now.
I see, they aren't the best of photos I must say.

Thankyou very much Bob.

libby.keen's picture

Thankyou Ian, I didnt know

Thankyou Ian, I didnt know all this and I find it very interesting to learn about animals.

I see so thats a dead give away to mature male.

Sounds like a great hobby you must get a lot of enjoyment out of it, the best wildlife experiences you have is from the animals that where/get the closet.

You appreciate the creature so much more when there right in front of you.

Thanks again Ian