Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus)

Pale Chanting Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Melierax canorus | [authority] Rislachi, 1799 | [UK] Pale Chanting Goshawk | [FR] Autour chanteur | [DE] Grosser Singhabicht | [ES] Azor-lagatijero claro | [NL] Zanghavik


Monotypic species


The genus Melierax, in the Accipitridae family, contains four species of hawk. The dark chanting goshawk is a grey-colored hawk from Sub-Saharan Africa and derives its name from its unique vocalizations. The pale chanting goshawk and eastern chanting goshawk are also named for the distinct sounds that they make. The pale chanting goshawk is whiter in color while the eastern chanting goshawk has a bluish hue. The Gabar goshawk is cross listed between both the Melierax and the Micronisus genus.

Physical charateristics

The adult male has a grey crown, becoming paler on the nape and the upper back, and darker on the lower back. The upper-tail coverts are white, forming a white bar at the base of the tail. The central tail feathers are black, tipped with white, the outer pairs being barred grey and white, and tipped with white. The primary flight feathers are black, with grey on the outer webs. The secondaries are pale grey with narrow white tips and white freckling on the inner webs, appearing to be almost white in flight. The chin, throat, and upper breast are pale grey; the lower breast, belly, thighs and under-tail coverts are narrowly barred dark grey and white. Some of the under-tail coverts are pure white. The under-wing coverts are white, narrowly barred with dark grey. The eyes are red or reddish brown, the cere and gape are yellow-orange, and the legs are red. Immatures are dull sepia brown on the crown, back and upper-wing coverts, paler on the coverts and darker on the back. The upper-tail coverts are white, barred with brown. The tail is brown, barred with dark brown, the pale bars being buff or whitish on the outer pairs of feathers. The primaries are brown with narrow darker brown bars, becoming white barred with dark brown on the inner webs. The secondaries are brown, faintly barred with darker brown. The chin and throat are brown; the upper breast grey-brown. The rest of the under side, including the under-wing coverts, are barred brown and white. The tail is conspicuously barred greyish brown and brown below. The primaries from below are greyish white, tipped with dark brown, and with narrow dark brown bars. The secondaries are grey-brown, tipped and narrowly barred with dark brown. The eyes are whitish; the cere grey, and the legs yellowish-white. The legs become red before the adult plumage is fully assumed. Downy young are pale grey with long dark “hairs” on crown; their eyes are grey-brown, their cere greenish grey, and their legs whitish yellow.

Listen to the sound of Pale Chanting Goshawk

[audio: Chanting Goshawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 105 cm wingspan max.: 115 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 54 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 37 days
fledging min.: 41 days fledging max.: 46 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : South. The Pale Chanting Goshawk can be found in eastern and southern Africa.


It is found in pairs or singly, in open plains and desert country, or in thorn bush. A pair has a well-defined home range and will usually be found in and around the same group of trees, from which they make short hunting trips. It is usually seen perched on a tree, or walking about on the ground, when, with its long legs and long tail, it looks almost like a miniature Secretary Bird. Except in the breeding season, it makes only short flights from tree to tree. It spends far more time on the ground than most hawks, and can run very fast in pursuit of prey.


At the onset of the breeding season the male perches on top of a tall tree, making his melodious display call, often for hours at a stretch. The pair can also be seen soaring together in circles, at a height of about 200-300 feet above the plain. An undulating display flight accompanied by calling is also sometimes performed. The nest is built in thorny Acacias, at a height of ten to thirty feet above the ground. A small slight structure, almost like a pigeon’s nest, it is made of small sticks and with some oddments, rags, dung, etc., added as lining. It can be up to twenty inches across with a shallow cup of ten inches diameter. One or two pale bluish or greenish white, unmarked, eggs are laid at intervals of several days. Laying dates vary by latitude from June to February. The female only incubates, and when two eggs are laid they hatch at intervals of several days. Only one young is normally reared from a nest of two. The young after leaving the nest may be found near it for some months and in the following year may even be found displaying in the same area.

Feeding habits

This bird eats mainly lizards and insects taken in the long grass; it will also eat small mammals up to the size of a hare, and can fly down birds such as quail in flight.

Video Pale Chanting Goshawk


copyright: Jean Michel Erard


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 extremely 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.
Pale Chanting Goshawk status Least Concern


Sedentary, but probably subadults are nomadic in more arid areas.

Distribution map

Pale Chanting Goshawk distribution range map

1 Comment

Add a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *