Overview

Comprehensive Description

Summary

"A commonly seen small bird of prey, the Shikra with grey upperparts and barred underparts. Their flight usually drwas alarm calls from smaller birds and mammals."
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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.

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Physical Description

Morphology

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).

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"A small familiar hawk ashy blue-grey above, white below cross-barred with rusty brown. Female browner above, and larger. Immature, brown and rufous above, broadly streaked with brown below. Tail with broad blackish bands. Sometimes soaring in circles high up, when the small size, long tail and short rounded wings are suggestive of its identity."
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Size

About that of the Pigeon.
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Diagnostic Description

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

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SubSpecies Varieties Races

"A. b. cenchroides (Severtzov, 1873) A. b. dussumieri (Temminck, 1824) A. b. badius (Gmelin, 1788) A. b. poliopsis (Hume, 1874) A. b. sphenurus (Rüppell, 1836) A. b. polyzonoides A. Smith, 1838"
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Landscape with trees, not dense forest or entirely open areas

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General Habitat

"Usually pairs, in wooded country and by villages and cultivation."
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Migration

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

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Dispersal

Movements and dispersal

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

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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).

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Associations

Known prey organisms

Accipiter badius (shikra) preys on:
Leporidae
Gerbillinae
Pteroclididae
Columbidae
Alaudidae
Rodentia

Based on studies in:
India, Rajasthan Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • I. K. Sharma, A study of ecosystems of the Indian desert, Trans. Indian Soc. Desert Technol. and Univ. Center Desert Stud. 5(2):51-55, from p. 52 and A study of agro-ecosystems in the Indian desert, ibid. 5:77-82, from p. 79 1980).
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

Usually solitary, noisy at all times

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Behaviour

"The Shikra is a dweller of open wooded country and avoids heavy forest. It is fond of light deciduous jungle and groves of large trees about villages and cultivation. The tactics it employs in capturing prey are mainly those of surprise. From its perch in the concealment of some leafy tree, whence it keeps a sharp look-out for lizards, rats, frogs, locusts and other small animals, it swoops upon and bears away its victims before they are aware of danger, it also kills small birds like bush-quails, doves and babblers swooping on them without warning and chasing them down with speed and determination. It is bold and fierce and will often tackle birds much larger than itself. The flight is swift consisting of several rapid wing strokes followed by a glide. Except when soaring in circles high up in the heavens, the Shikra usually flies close to the ground, shooting up into the branches of a tree when alighting. Its progress is invariably heralded by the 'Ware Hawk' alarm notes of squirrels and every species of small bird in the vicinity. It is an inveterate robber of young chickens, especially while feeding its nest-young, and often becomes a serious nuisance about villages. Its usual call notes are exactly like those of the Black Drongo, only louder. During the breeding season pairs indulge in curious aerobatics and are very noisy, constantly uttering a sharp double note ti-tui."
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Reproduction

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.

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"The season ranges principally between March and June. The nest is an untidy, loosely put-together structure of twigs lined with fine grass and roots. It is placed near the top in a leafy mango or similar tree, preferably one of a clump. Three or four eggs form the normal clutch. They are pale bluish-white, sometimes faintly speckled and spotted with grey. Both sexes share in building the nest and feeding the young, but apparently the female alone incubates. The incubation period is about 18 to 21 days."
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

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).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

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

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
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Population

Population Trend
Stable
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