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Common Name : Besra Sparrowhawk     -       Scientific Name : Accipiter virgatus       -       Other Name : Besra, Punchi Kurulugoya (S)
Thambi Oluwa
09/13/2011
Thambi Oluwa
09/13/2011
Thambi Oluwa
09/13/2011

This is a rare, breeding resident found only in densely forested areas at all elevations. Other than in Sri Lanka this species is found through out south Asia, ranging from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards across Southeast Asia in to East Asia. Eleven subspecies of this species have been recognized so far and the race that occurs in Southwestern India and Sri Lanka is  A. v. besra.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Vulnerable” (National Red List 2012).

Besra Sparrow Hawk is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have observed this species in the wet zone forests such as Sinharaja, Athwelthota and Kitugala as well as in the dry zone forests including Yala and Udawalawa National Parks. I have not seen it in the Mannar Island or the Jaffna peninsular. In the hill country I have seen this species at Horton Plains National Park and in the Peak Wilderness. Unlike the commonly seen Shikra this species is never found out side dense forests. These birds possess a remarkable ability to fly extremely fast through the forest in pursuit of their prey. I once observed one of these birds at the summit of Dolukanda chasing after a small bird through the dense forest and killing it instantly.

In Wilpattu the call of this species can be heard often but is difficult to observe due to its secretive nature. It can some times be observed perched on the exposed branches, from the park entrance to Maradanmaduwa and then up to Walas Wala. This area with the cleared undergrowth favours these birds to seek their prey.