Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes, Европейский тювик, Եվրոպական ճնճղաճուռակ
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia: The species occupies the south-eastern Europe, eastern Mediterranean, Caucasus region, and sub-Saharan Africa. The species is monotypic. It is distributed in north-eastern, central, and southern Armenia, inhabiting river valleys occupied by riparian woodlands and forests, Walnut (Juglans regia) and Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) orchards, stand of willow (Salix), scattered groves of trees, and even the public parks in towns and cities. The elevation range occupied by the species is between 400 and 1500 m a.s.l. The species returns from the wintering ground usually in late April - beginning of May. Levant Sparrowhawks breed on the trees, having from 2 to 5 eggs in the clutch. The incubation is duty of female, while male is feeding her in that period; however when the nestlings are quite large both parents take place in hunting and feeding them, however, even in that time the female hunts in the close proximity of the nest, and the males are searching for the food in more remote areas. The food of the species are predominantly lizards, rodents, large insects, sometimes also small Passerines. It appears that the species can easily switch between food items, depending on their availability, thus a pair in Yerevan (capital - located in the central part) was feeding their nestlings mostly on rodents, while the pair in Meghri (town in the south-east) was bringing predominantly cicadas. The species doesn't demonstrate strong territorial behavior, thus the nests can be located at about 500 meters distance to each other - while the foraging range is obviously bigger than that. The fledglings have their first flight in July, and in September the species begins its migration to the south. Population dynamics: As the last estimation shows, population of the species makes from 180 to 220 breeding pairs. Interestingly the Levant Sparrowhawks can tolerate presence of human near its nesting site. Thus at least five nest are located in the crowded public parks of the capital (Yerevan), many other nest are located in the backyard orchards in the villages. The species is not an object of trophy hunting or falconry, therefore the direct persecution takes place more as an occasion rather than regular evidence. However the fact that the Levant Sparrowhawks live in orchards and often feed in close proximity (this is particularly true for the females in the nestling-feeding season), makes them potentially vulnerable from use of persistent pesticides. Another potential threat, not only to local, but also global population, can come with development of wind farms, as Armenia is located at one of the major flyways. Nevertheless, the ten year population trend is quite stable. Similarly, there was no high mortality of the nestlings observed, and probably the nests with two nestlings, which are observed in some years, appear to be more related to the yearly adaptation to the food supply.
Conservation Measures: The species is included in Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010) as VU B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) and in Annex II of the Bern Convention. At current most of the population remains not covered by Protection Area network, because they occupy cultivated lands. In the same time, many pairs are covered by Emerald Sites, which are including community areas, and thus are protected by Bern Convention. Among the proposed conservation measures, it is important to list the following ones: (1) development of management plans for the Emerald Sites to secure sustainable coexistence of the cultivated lands and the populations of the species; (2) revision of the pesticide use policy in the areas, inhabited by red-listed species, and development of the mechanisms of alternative income for the farmers and local house-holds, which have Levant Sparrowhawks in their orchards, thus securing community-based conservation of the species; (3) careful assessment of any wind-farm project in Armenia; (4) continuation of the species' monitoring in Armenia, aimed at early alarming its potential decline, and subsequent development of mitigation measures.