The genus Accipiter is a group of birds of prey in the family Accipitridae, many of which are named as goshawks and sparrowhawks. They can be anatomically distinguished from their relatives by the lack of a procoracoid foramen. Two small and aberrant species usually placed here do possess a large procoracoid foramen and are also distinct as regards DNA sequence. They may warrant separation in the old genus Hieraspiza.
Extant Accipiters range in size from the Little Sparrowhawk (A. minullus), in which the smallest males measure 20 cm (7.9 in) long, span 39 cm (15 in) across the wings and weigh 68 g (2.4 oz), to the Northern Goshawk (A. gentilis), in which the largest females measure 64 cm (25 in) long, span 127 cm (50 in) across the wings and weigh 2,200 g (4.9 lb). These birds are slender with short broad rounded wings and a long tail which helps them maneuver in flight. They have long legs and long sharp talons used to kill their prey, and a sharp hooked bill used in feeding. Females tend to be larger than males. They often ambush their prey, mainly small birds and mammals, capturing it after a short chase. The typical flight pattern is a series of flaps followed by a short glide. They are commonly found in wooded or shrubby areas.