Gabar Goshawk (Micronisus gabar)

Gabar Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Micronisus gabar | [authority] Daudin, 1800 | [UK] Gabar Goshawk | [FR] Autour gabar | [DE] Gabarhabicht | [ES] Gavilan gabar | [NL] Gabarhavik


Monotypic species


Micronisus is a genus with only one type of hawk. The Gabar goshawk is an African bird of prey found in many countries across Africa and the Middle East. Sometimes placed in the genus Melierax, but probably more closely related to Accipiter.

Physical charateristics

In the wild it is easy to confuse this species with small African Sparrowhawks. It has the look of a small, slender hawk, rather like a miniature Pale Chanting Goshawk. The broad white rump, combined with a uniform grey upper breast is a very clear defining characteristic. In melanistic plumage the red (rather than yellow) legs and the strongly barred tail and wings distinguish it from the melanistic form of the Ovampo Sparrowhawk, with which it could otherwise be confused.

wingspan min.: 58 cm wingspan max.: 63 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 35 days
fledging min.: 30 days fledging max.: 35 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : widespread. The Gabar Goshawk lives in south-east Arabia, and in Africa south of a line from Senegal to Eritrea.


It prefers bush or savannah, and avoids forests and very open desert. The Gabar Goshawk is a swift little bird, living in savannah and bush country, and hunting with very quick rushes from within the foliage of a tree. It favours acacia bush country, but does come close to human habitation.


The small platform nest is typically made from thin twigs and positioned in a vertical fork in the crown of a thorny tree. To supplement the nest, the gabar goshawk is known to collect social spiders on their webs, which are then incorporated into the nest. The function of this unusual practice is unclear but the subsequent webs that spread over the nest probably act as camouflage, whilst the spiders may consume arthropods that otherwise would parasitize the chicks. The female usually lays two eggs, which are incubated for a little over a month before hatching. The young fledge after about 4 to 5 weeks.

Feeding habits

Generally found singly or in pairs, this bird is not above taking prey which has been disturbed by a human intruder. It catches birds in very swift flight, either taking them on the wing, or driving them into dense vegetation. Their main food is birds up to the size of a thrush. They also take some small mammals and lizards.
Large insects are taken on the wing.

Video Gabar Goshawk


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Clearance of woodland and thornbush, for agriculture and firewood, is putting localised pressure on the gabar goshawk. Fortunately, this species has a colossal breeding range that stretches over more than 12 million square kilometres and its overall population appears to be stable
Gabar Goshawk status Least Concern


The gabar goshawk is generally considered to be sedentary, but immature birds are somewhat nomadic and small migratory movements have been recorded in parts of its range

Distribution map

Gabar Goshawk distribution range map

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