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.
These birds are slender with short broad rounded wings and a long tail which helps them manoeuvre 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.