First recorded sighting of Levant Sparrowhawk in Malta

BirdLife Malta ornithologists and birdwatchers record first sighting of a Levant Sparrowhawk in Malta

The levant sparrowhawk spotted in Buskett (Photo: Raymond Galea)
The levant sparrowhawk spotted in Buskett (Photo: Raymond Galea)

The raptor migration in the past days provided a mega rarity for Malta as a Levant Sparrowhawk was spotted at Buskett late on the afternoon on Tuesday, in what BirdLife Malta described as the first sighting of this species in Malta.

It said that although there were a few other records of this species in hunters’ stuffed bird collections in Malta and Gozo, these were most probably of imported carcasses from hunting in Eastern Europe.

The bird was observed and photographed at close range with all features for this species positively identifying it as a juvenile female Levant Sparrowhawk.

It was observed by experienced field ornithologists from BirdLife Malta, who every year – and for the last 50 years – study the autumn raptor migration over Buskett.

The Levant Sparrowhawk is a small bird of prey which nests in trees, with the female larger than the male.

The breeding distribution of this bird is south-east Europe, from the Balkans to the West Black Sea Coast, Moldova, Ukraine and South Russia north of the Black Sea into north-west Kazakhstan.

Its occurrence in central Europe is very rare with only a few accidental records. It winters in Africa. The strong northeasterly winds on that day could be the cause of this rare bird coming to Malta instead of taking its normal eastern migration route.

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