You will see that they are large, beautiful birds and usually brown in color. Adult males have a grey back and are often white underneath with orange streaks across them. Females are typically larger than the males and have a brown back and upperparts and usually have dark barring underneath. They have striking yellow eyes and a small, curved beak. They all have broad, dark, rounded wings and a long tail which is adapted to give them greater mobility when flying. Despite their size, they can easily swoop and weave between tress in order to catch their pray, often flying at high speeds with agility.
They do not hover like Kestrels and are much more likely to be seen swooping down very quickly and suddenly.
During identification, Sparrow Hawks are often confused with other birds. These could be:
- Merlin - Although possibly the least likely bird to see in spaces such as your garden, their features are similar to that of a Sparrow Hawk. Merlins are more likely to be found in wide open spaces in the countryside.
- Goshawk - A female Sparrow Hawk is a similar size and shape to a Goshawk but these are very shy birds which are seen in open countryside or large woodlands.
- Kestrel - The easiest way to distinguish between a Sparrow Hawk and a Kestrel is the eye color. A Sparrow Hawk has yellow eyes whereas a Kestrel has dark eyes.