Accipiter badius

Accipiter badius (Gmelin, 1788)

Common Names

Shikra (English), Épervier shikra (French)

Languages: English



Usually solitary, noisy at all times

Diagnostic Description

Pale yellow cere and red (male) or deep orange (female) eye (Kemp in del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001)


Sister species to A. brevipes, has recently been barcoded (Breman et al. unpublished, Sonet et al. 2011)


Its iris is orange to red in the adult and its central pair of tail-feathers is plain.

Immature Shikra has a dark mesial throat stripe and contrasting blotches on the breast, which are lacking, indistinct or narrow in African Goshawk (Louette 2010).

Ecology and Distribution


A. badius polyzonoides occurs in southeastern Africa (south of the equator) from southern Kenya to South Africa.

A. badius sphenurus occurs in central African regions (north of the equator) particularly from southern Senegal to Ethiopia and northern Kenya.


Landscape with trees, not dense forest or entirely open areas


African populations migrate with seasonal rains only (Elgood et al. 1973); Palearctic populations migrate south (especially in Asian regions).

Movements and dispersal

A. badius polyzonoides and A. badius sphenurus are resident subspecies.


Breeding time depends on the region.

Nest: an insubstantial structure of thin sticks built in the fork of a broadleaved tree.

Clutch: 3-4 eggs.

Incubation: 30-35 days.

Fledging at about 30-32 days.

Trophic Strategy

It feeds mainly on lizards and large insects, occasionally small birds (passerines), eggs and chicks as well as small mammals (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001).

Evolution and Systematics


Accipiter badius is a sister species to A. brevipes, however the exact relationships with A. brevipes remain unclear. Recent genetic work on COI has demonstrated significant genetic distances between subspecies of A. badius. Distances that are comparable with distances to A. brevipes as well (Breman et al. unpublished). The subspecies differ significantly from each other for measurements such as wing lengths, bill size and middle toe lengths (Wattel 1973).


BirdLife_International (2011).  IUCN Red List for birds.
Ferguson-Lees, J., & Christie D. A. (2001).  Raptors of the world. 992. London: Christopher Helm.
Kemp, A. C. (1994).  Family Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles): Afrotropical. (del HoyoJ., ElliottA., SargatalJ., Ed.).Handbook of the Birds of the World. 2, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
Louette, M. (2010).  Plumage variation in African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro and its separation from congenerics in equatorial Africa. African Bird Club. 17(1), 19-31.
Wattel, J. (1973).  Geographical differentiation in the genus Accipiter. Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club. 13, 231.