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A new genus for the tiny hawk Accipiter superciliosus and
semicollared hawk A. collaris (Aves: Accipitridae), with
comments on the generic name for the crested goshawk
A. trivirgatus and Sulawesi goshawk A. griseiceps
George Sangster1,2, Guy M. Kirwan3,4, Jérôme Fuchs5, Edward C. Dickinson6, Andy Elliott7,
Steven M. S. Gregory8
1 Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 50007, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden
2 Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Darwinweg 2, PO Box 9517, NL-2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
3 Bird Group, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, Tring, Herts, HP23 6AP, UK
4 Setor de Ornitologia, Departamento de Vertebrados, Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Quinta da Boa Vista s/n, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 20940-040, Brazil
5 Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, SU, EPHE, UA, CP51, 57 rue Cuvier,
75005 Paris, France
6 Flat 19, Marlborough Court, Southelds Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 1BT, UK
7 c/o Lynx Edicions, Montseny 8, E-08193 Bellaterra, Catalunya, Spain
8 35 Monarch Road, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN2 6EH, UK
Corresponding author: Guy M. Kirwan (GMKirwan@aol.com)
Academic editor Martin Päckert | Received 18 April 2021 | Accepted 14 July 2021 | Published 2 August 2021
Citation: Sangster G, Kirwan GM, Fuchs J, Dickinson EC, Elliott A, Gregory SMS (2021) A new genus for the tiny hawk Accipiter superciliosus
and semicollared hawk A. collaris (Aves: Accipitridae), with comments on the generic name for the crested goshawk A. trivirgatus and Sulawesi
goshawk A. griseiceps. Vertebrate Zoology 71: 419–424. https://doi.org/10.3897/vz.71.e67501
Multiple molecular phylogenetic studies have demonstrated that two Neotropical raptors, tiny hawk Accipiter superciliosus and its
sister species semicollared hawk A. collaris, are not closely related to core Accipiter, and that A. superciliosus, at least, possesses
osteological characters not replicated in the remainder of the genus. Based on these data, there is a need to recognise their distinc-
tiveness at generic level. However, as recently noted in two global bird checklists, no name is available to accommodate them, so
we provide a new nomen here. Furthermore, two Asian accipitrids, crested goshawk A. trivirgatus and its presumed closest relative
Sulawesi goshawk A. griseiceps, are also phylogenetically distinctive; in this case the genus-group name Lophospiza is applicable.
We also designate type species for two genus-group names (Hieraspiza and Eusparvius) currently in the synonymy of Accipiter, and,
as an aid to future workers, we provide a synonymy of the genus Accipiter and a list of species currently included in Accipiter for
which published molecular phylogenetic data are apparently lacking.
Accipitriformes, Eusparvius, Hieraspiza, nomenclature, phylogeny
Vertebrate Zoology 71, 2021, 419–424 | DOI 10.3897/vz.71.e67501
Copyright G. Sangster et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribu-
tion, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
G. Sangster et al.: A new genus of sparrowhawk
Accipiter Brisson, 1760, is a large, virtually cosmopol-
itan and morphologically variable genus. Recent stud-
ies based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences
have shown that Accipiter (sensu Dickinson and Remsen
2013) is not monophyletic. These studies provide strong
evidence that the harriers (genus Circus Lacépède, 1799)
form part of the Accipiter clade (Kocum 2006, 2008;
Grifths et al. 2007; Lerner et al. 2008; Hughall and
Stuart-Fox 2012; Nagy and Tökölyi 2014; Jiang et al.
2015; Oatley et al. 2015; Mindell et al. 2018). The genera
Erythrotriorchis Sharpe, 1875, and Megatriorchis Salva-
dori & D’Albertis, 1876, have also been recovered within
the Accipiter clade (Mindell et al. 2018). Conversely, sev-
eral studies have shown that the Neotropical tiny hawk A.
superciliosus (Linnaeus, 1766) occupies a position out-
side the Accipiter clade (Kocum 2006, 2008; Hughall and
Stuart-Fox 2012; Oatley et al. 2015; Mindell et al. 2018).
Another Neotropical species, semicollared hawk A. col-
laris P. L. Sclater, 1860, was found to be its sister species
(Mindell et al. 2018). In all studies, the precise position
of A. superciliosus and A. collaris proved unclear, due to
low nodal support, but these species are clearly not part
of the Accipiter mega-clade (including Circus + Erythro-
triorchis + Megatriorchis), which itself was supported by
high posterior probability (Kocum 2006, 2008; Hughall
and Stuart-Fox 2012; Oatley et al. 2015; Mindell et al.
2018). Even more distantly related to Accipiter is crested
goshawk A. trivirgatus (and presumably Sulawesi gos-
hawk A. griseiceps), which is sister to a clade comprising
all other species of Accipitrinae and Buteoninae (Mindell
et al. 2018; Choi et al. 2021). For an overview of these
relationships, see Fig. 1.
Genus-group name of A. superciliosus
and A. collaris
Olson (2006) pointed out that A. superciliosus shows
several unique osteological characters in the context of
Accipiter and recommended that it be placed in a sepa-
rate genus, Hieraspiza Kaup, 1844. Olson (2006) based
himself on Hellmayr and Conover (1949: 48, footnote),
who reported that ‘Hieraspiza Kaup was originally creat-
ed for several “East Indian species” to which, the author
says, virgatus might possibly belong. A few years later
(in Oken’s Isis, 1847, col. 169) Kaup specically listed A.
tinus, A. minullus, and A. virgatus as pertaining to the ge-
nus, among which Gray, in 1855, selected Falco tinus as
genotype.’ Falco tinus Latham, 1790, is a junior synonym
of A. superciliosus (Stresemann and Amadon 1979). Sub-
sequently, Mindell et al. (2018) considered that genetic
and morphological data indeed support the recognition of
a separate genus for A. superciliosus and A. collaris, and
followed Olson (2006) by using Hieraspiza.
In contrast, Mathews (1920: 67) erroneously consid-
ered Falco caerulescens Linnaeus, 1758 (= collared fal-
conet Microhierax caerulescens) to be the type species
of Hieraspiza, whereas Friedmann (1950: 141) listed
Falco virgatus Temminck, 1822 (now Accipiter virgatus)
as its type species. Wolters (1975) used Hieraspiza as a
subgenus name for A. nanus, A. gularis and A. virgatus,
and grouped A. superciliosus and A. collaris in an un-
named subgenus. From this, it is clear that Wolters did not
consider A. superciliosus the type species of Hieraspiza.
Dickinson and Remsen (2013: 248, footnote 7) and del
Hoyo and Collar (2014) stated that A. virgatus is the type
species of Hieraspiza and that either a new genus must
be erected for A. superciliosus or an existing genus name
must be discovered.
The name Hieraspiza was rst used by Kaup (1844:
116), where it is a nomen nudum, because there is no de-
scription and no valid ‘indication’ (ICZN 1999, Art. 12).
The relevant text, in its entirety, reads: ‘Falkenweihesper-
ber, die ich Hieraspiza nenne, scheinen einige ostindische
Arten zu bilden, zu welchen vielleicht virgatus gehört.’ In
other words, Kaup stated that some East Indian species
seem [our emphasis] to form a group, to which virgatus
perhaps [our emphasis] belongs, and he applied the name
Hieraspiza to this group. As the inclusion of virgatus is
only tentative, this species is deemed not to have been
originally included (Art. 67.2.5) in 1844, contra Fried-
mann (1950) and others, so it cannot serve as an indica-
tion. Subsequently, Kaup (1845) listed this genus again,
this time explicitly including just two species, virgatus
and “Dussumieri” [= Accipiter badius dussumieri], thus
providing a valid indication (Art. 12.2.5)1. As a result of
its exclusion from the originally included species, the
possible case for superciliosus as the type species is un-
sustainable (Art. 67.2) because Kaup did not link it with
this genus until 1847. This makes G. R. Gray’s (1855)
subsequent selection of “Falco tinus” as the type for
Hiera spiza irrelevant. To stabilize this name, we hereby
select Falco virgatus Temminck, 1822 (= Accipiter virga-
tus) as type species of the genus-group name Hieraspiza.
In searching for an existing name to accommodate A.
collaris and A. superciliosus, we assembled a list of syn-
onyms of Accipiter (sensu Dickinson and Remsen 2013),
which is based on multiple sources but principally Fried-
mann (1950) (see Appendix 1). Although only 33 of the
49 species of Accipiter, Erythrotriorchis and Megatrior-
chis (sensu Dickinson and Remsen 2013) were included
in the most comprehensive phylogenetic study to date
(Mindell et al. 2018)2, these represent all but one of the
type species of the available genus-group names current-
1 For those who might seek to recognise Hieraspiza as hav-
ing been validly introduced in 1844, invoking Art. 12.2.5
to suggest that use of the species name virgatus under the
genus name is sufciently clear, despite Kaup’s evident dou-
ble uncertainty, it nevertheless remains the case that the type
species of Hieraspiza is virgatus. In other words, the case
against Hieraspiza being an available genus name for Accip-
iter superciliosus is unambiguous.
2 Appendix 2 lists the 16 species included in genus Accipiter
by Dickinson and Remsen (2013) unrepresented within the
Mindell et al. (2018) phylogeny. All three species of Erythro-
triorchis and Megatriorchis were sampled by the latter work.
Vertebrate Zoology 71, 2021, 419–424 421
ly listed within the synonymy of Accipiter. The exception
is spot-tailed goshawk Accipiter trinotatus (Bonaparte,
1850), the type species of Erythrospiza Kaup, 1867, a
name unavailable due to its being a junior homonym (see
Appendix 1), but also, automatically, the type of its three
derivatives: Chirospizias Sundevall, 1874, a replace-
ment name3; Erythrospizias Gurney, 1875, an unjustied
emendation but nonetheless an available genus-group
name (Art. 33.2.3); and Spilospiza Salvadori, 1875, an-
other replacement name. Nevertheless, the earlier name
Eusparvius Bonaparte, 1854, is also available and can be
used for this species, Bonaparte (1854: 538) having in-
cluded A. trinotatus, A. griseiceps, A. hiogaster, and A.
rutorques within the original grouping (note that none
of these has been screened molecularly; see Appendix 2).
All four of these available genus-group names (Eusparvi-
us4, Chirospizias, Erythrospizias and Spilospiza) might be
considered nomina oblita as they have barely been men-
tioned, never mind used, since being introduced. No type
species for Eusparvius Bonaparte, 1854, was originally
designated or appears to have been subsequently xed,
and Art. 68 cannot be used to select one, so we hereby
x the type of Eusparvius as A. trinotatus, the rst of the
four species originally listed by Bonaparte for the oldest
available genus-group name applicable to this species.
A. trinotatus is endemic to Sulawesi. It shares no diag-
nostic character state with A. superciliosus and A. collaris,
and differs strongly from these two Neotropical species in
various characters, including: tail pattern (large spots on
the central rectrices in A. trinotatus, barred in A. super-
ciliosus and A. collaris); tertial pattern (large white spots
in A. trinotatus, plain in A. superciliosus and A. collaris);
and the pattern of the underparts (plain in A. trinotatus,
barred in A. superciliosus and A. collaris) (del Hoyo et al.
1994; Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Despite the lack
of phylogenetic evidence for the placement of A. trinota-
tus, we believe its morphology and biogeography provide
no reason to suspect a close relationship with A. supercil-
iosus and A. collaris.
We conclude that A. superciliosus and A. collaris can-
not be isolated in any existing genus and that there are no
3 Sundevall specically named as his type species ‘Erythro-
spiza griseigularis’ (= Accipiter hiogaster griseogularis),
but because this is a replacement name it has the same type
species as the name it replaced, i.e. Accipiter trinotatus (Art.
67.8, ‘… the same type species … despite any statement to
4 This name was introduced in a manner identical to that in
which Bonaparte (1854) introduced the genus-group name
Eunisus, just seven lines earlier. Eunisus has been accepted
as valid by authorities such as Richmond (1917) and Fried-
mann (1950), although both of them overlooked Eusparvius.
Richmond (1917: 590) interpreted Eunisus as a replacement
name for Bonaparte’s own genus Nisus, preoccupied by
Lacépède’s Nisus. It is reasonable to treat Eusparvius iden-
tically, as it appears to be a replacement name for Sparvius
Bonaparte, preoccupied by Sparvius Vieillot. Bonaparte’s
names Nisus and Sparvius do not appear to have been pub-
available genus-group names applicable to these species.
Thus, it is necessary to provide a new genus-group name.
Microspizias gen. nov.
Type species. Falco superciliosus Linnaeus, 1766 (cur-
rently Accipiter superciliosus).
Included species. Microspizias superciliosus (Linnaeus,
1766), new combination, and M. collaris (P. L. Sclater,
1860), new combination.
Diagnosis. Microspizias differs from all species of Ac-
cipiter by a combination of (i) small size (total length
<30 cm), (ii) white vent barred grey (in adult M. collaris)
or chocolate-brown (in adult M. superciliosus), and (iii)
juveniles dimorphic, rufous morph with distinct rufous
fringes to feathers of upperparts (Ferguson-Lees and
Christie 2001). In addition, Olson (2006) noted that in
M. superciliosus the procoracoid process has a very dis-
tinct foramen. This foramen is invariably absent in Accip-
iter (Olson 1987). Olson (2006) further pointed out that
the conguration of the skull, sternum and pelvis of M.
superciliosus are very different from Accipiter, and that
the hind-limb bones of M. superciliosus are much more
robust than the extremely gracile elements of Accipiter.
Microspizias differs from Kaupifalco monogrammic-
us by (i) absence of black and white throat stripes (black
central throat stripe bordered on each side by a white
stripe in Kaupifalco), (ii) absence of a solid grey breast-
band (present in Kaupifalco), (iii) presence of three grey
tail bands (one white band in Kaupifalco), and (iv) yel-
low cere, tibia and toes (orange in Kaupifalco) (Fergu-
son-Lees and Christie 2001).
Microspizias differs from Melierax in (i) much small-
er size (total length <30 cm; >42 cm in Melierax), (ii)
much shorter legs (tarsus <50 mm; >81 mm in Melierax),
and (iii) juveniles dimorphic, rufous morph with rufous
feather fringes on upperparts (monomorphic, with brown
upperparts in Melierax) (Ferguson-Lees and Christie
Microspizias differs from Micronisus gabar in (i)
shorter tail (males <117 mm; >150 mm in Micronisus),
(ii) tail square-ended or notched (rounded in Micronisus),
(iii) yellow cere, tibia and toes (orange in adult Microni-
sus), (iv) dark grey rump (white in Micronisus), and (v)
juveniles dimorphic, rufous morph with rufous feather
fringes on upperparts (monomorphic, with brown upper-
parts in Micronisus) (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).
Microspizias differs from Harpagus in (i) presence of
three grey tail bands (two or three white or grey bands
in Harpagus), (ii) adult male without dark mesial throat
stripe (present in Harpagus), (iii) greyish-barred un-
derparts (plain grey or rufous, or rufous-barred in adult
Harpagus), and (iv) juveniles dimorphic, rufous morph
with rufous feather fringes on upperparts (monomorphic,
G. Sangster et al.: A new genus of sparrowhawk
with brown to black-brown upperparts in Harpagus)
(Friedmann 1950; Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).
Microspizias differs from Urotriorchis macrourus in
(i) much shorter tail (males <117 mm; >305 mm in Uro-
triorchis), (ii) tail squared or notched (strongly graduated
in Urotriorchis), (iii) underparts with greyish bars (in M.
collaris) or chocolate-brown bars (in M. superciliosus)
(plain grey or rufous in Urotriorchis), (iv) dark grey rump
(white in Urotriorchis), and (v) juveniles dimorphic, ru-
fous morph with rufous feather fringes on upperparts
(monomorphic, with black-brown upperparts in Urotrior-
chis) (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).
Etymology. The name is derived from the Greek words
μικρος (small, tiny) and σπιζιας (hawk). Its gender is
masculine. The name refers to the small size of both spe-
cies, especially that of M. superciliosus.
Genus-group name of A. trivirgatus
and A. griseiceps
Placement of crested goshawk A. trivirgatus in a sepa-
rate genus from Accipiter is warranted based on its phy-
logenetic distinctiveness (Mindell et al. 2018; Choi et
al. 2021). Lophospiza Kaup, 1844, is available as a ge-
nus-group name for this species and its presumed closest
relative, Sulawesi goshawk A. griseiceps. Its gender is
feminine. Crested goshawk and Sulawesi goshawk thus
become Lophospiza trivirgata and Lophospiza grisei-
ceps, respectively. Morphologically, they differ from all
species of Accipiter by their well-developed crest (Fergu-
son-Lees and Christie 2001).
This study was supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Coun-
cil (grant 2015-06455 to G.S.). We thank our reviewers, Jan Gjershaug,
Michael Wink and an anonymous referee, for their comments on the
submitted version of the manuscript.
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Accipiter striatus striatus
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Species taxa of Accipiter (sensu Dickinson and Remsen 2013) not screened by the Mindell et al. (2018) phylo-
geny. * = sampled by Breman et al. (2013). All three species of Erythrotriorchis and Megatriorchis were sampled by
Mindell et al.
Accipiter griseiceps Sulawesi goshawk; A. butleri Nicobar sparrow-
hawk; A. trinotatus spot-tailed goshawk; A. hiogaster variable goshawk;
A. princeps New Britain goshawk; A. fasciatus* brown goshawk; A.
albogularis pied goshawk; A. rutorques Fiji goshawk; A. henicogram-
mus Moluccan goshawk; A. luteoschistaceus slaty-backed sparrow-
hawk; A. nanus dwarf sparrowhawk; A. erythrauchen rufous-necked
sparrowhawk; A. brachyurus New Britain sparrowhawk; A. rhodogas-
ter vinous-breasted sparrowhawk; A. gundlachi* Gundlach’s hawk; and
A. meyerianus Meyer’s goshawk.
Synonymy of Accipiter (sensu Dickinson and Remsen 2013). Incorrect subsequent spellings and (unjustied) emen-
dations are mostly omitted for the purposes of this list. The list is based on Sharpe (1874), Peters (1931), Hellmayr and
Conover (1949), Friedmann (1950), Wol ters (1975), Stresemann and Amadon (1979), and the Richmond Index made
available at http://www.zoonomen.net/cit/RI/Genera/RIGen.html (accessed 19 March 2021).
Accipiter Brisson, 1760. Type species “Accipiter” Brisson = Falco nisus
Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter nisus).
Astur Lacépède, 1799. Type species, by subsequent designation (Vigors
1824), Falco palumbarius Linnaeus, 1758 = Falco gentilis Linnae-
us, 1758 (now Accipiter gentilis).
Nisus Lacépède, 1799. Type species “Épervier” = Falco nisus Linnaeus,
1758 (now Accipiter nisus).
Daedalion Savigny, 1809. Type species, by subsequent designation (G.
R. Gray 1840), Falco palumbarius Linnaeus, 1758 = Falco gentilis
Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter gentilis).
Ierax Leach, 1816. Type species I. fringillarius Savigny, 1809 = Falco
nisus Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter nisus).
Sparvius Vieillot, 1816. Type species, by subsequent designation (G.
R. Gray 1840), Falco nisus Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter nisus).
Aesalon F. O. Morris, 1837. Type species A. fringillarius = Falco nis-
us Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter nisus). Preoccupied by Aesalon
Kaup, 1829 [Falconidae].
Asterias F. O. Morris, 1837. Type species A. palumbarius = Falco gen-
tilis Linnaeus, 1758 (now Accipiter gentilis). Preoccupied by Aste-
rias Linnaeus, 1758 [Echinoderma].
Fringillarius Jameson, 1840. New name for Accipiter Brisson, 1760,
and Daedalion Savigny, 1809.
Phabotypus Gloger, 1842. New name for Astur Lacépède, 1799.
Tachyspiza Kaup, 1844. Type species Falco Soloensis Horseld, 1821
(now Accipiter soloensis).
Lophospiza Kaup, 1844. Type species, by monotypy, Astur trivirgatus
= Falco trivirgatus Temminck, 1824 (hitherto Accipiter trivirga-
Leucospiza Kaup, 1844. Type species Astur novaehollandiae = Falco
novae Hollandiae J. F. Gmelin, 1788 (now Accipiter novaehol-
Nisastur Blyth, 1844. Type species Falco badius J. F. Gmelin, 1788
(now Accipiter badius).
Hieraspiza Kaup, 1845. Type species, by designation herein, Falco
virgatus Temminck, 1822 (now Accipiter virgatus). See main text.
Urospiza Kaup, 1845. Type species Nisus radiatus Temminck, 1822 nec
Latham, 1801 = Astur fasciatus Vigors and Horseld, 1827 (now
Scelospiza Kaup, 1847. Type species Nisus francessii [sic] = Accipiter
Francesii A. Smith, 1834 (now Accipiter francesiae).
Cooperastur Bonaparte, 1854. Type species, by subsequent designation
(G. R. Gray 1855), Falco cooperii Bonaparte, 1828 (now Accipiter
Eunisus Bonaparte, 1854. Type species, by subsequent designation
(Richmond 1917), Falco (Nisus) sphenurus Rüppell, 1836 (now
Accipiter badius sphenurus).
Eusparvius Bonaparte, 1854. Type species, by designation herein, Ac-
cipiter trinotatus Bonaparte, 1850.
Nisuoides Pollen, 1866. Type species, by monotypy, Nisuoides morelii
Pollen, 1866 = Accipiter Francesii A. Smith, 1834 (now Accipiter
Erythrospiza Kaup, 1867. Type species Falco trinotatus Temminck =
Accipiter trinotatus Bonaparte, 1850. Preoccupied by Erythrospiza
Bonaparte, 1831 [Fringillidae].
Leptohierax Sundevall, 1874. New name for Cooperastur Bonaparte,
Chirospizias Sundevall, 1874, New name for Erythrospiza Kaup, 1867,
preoccupied by Erythrospiza Bonaparte, 1831 [Fringillidae].
Dinospizias Cabanis, 1874. Type species Astur pectoralis Bonaparte,
1850 = Falco poliogaster Temminck, 1824 (now Accipiter polio-
Erythrospizias Gurney, 1875. Unjustied emendation of Erythrospiza
Spilospiza Salvadori, 1875. New name for Erythrospiza Kaup, 1867
(preoccupied by Erythrospiza Bonaparte, 1831 [Fringillidae]).
Paraspizias Mathews, 1915. Type species Sparvius cirrocephalus Vieil-
lot, 1817 (now Accipiter cirrocephalus).
Aerospiza Roberts, 1922. Type species Astur tachiro = Falco tachiro
Daudin, 1800 (now Accipiter tachiro).
Neonisus Roberts, 1922. Type species Accipiter melanoleucus = Ac-
cipiter melanoleueus [sic] A. Smith, 1830 (now A. melanoleucus).