Red-chested Goshawk (Accipiter toussenelii)

Red-chested Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter toussenelii | [authority] Verreaux, 1855 | [UK] Red-chested Goshawk | [FR] Autour de Toussenel | [DE] Rotbrusthabicht | [ES] Azor de Toussenel | [NL] Afrikaanse havik


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Accipiter are small and medium-sized hawks, often called Sparrow-hawks or Goshawks. The females are almost invariably much larger than the males – in some cases weighing twice as much – a level of size dimorphism only exceptionally reached in any other genus Falconiformes. Their wings are short and rounded; the tail usually quite long. They are well adapted for flying through dense bush. Bird-catching Sparrow-hawks generally have long and slender legs, with slender digits, the middle one being especially long. Goshawks are usually larger, with shorter, thicker tarsi and digits and a shorter middle digit. Some smaller species have goshawk-like feet and vice versa, making it difficult on a world-wide basis to subdivide the genus on this or any other broad basis. Although many accipiters feed upon birds moreso than do other hawks, some species take many mammals, especially squirrels; others take lizards, frogs, snakes, insects, even snails. In these species the legs and digits are sometimes slender, but short. Accipiters are rarely crested, but some have very attractive colour patterns. Black phases are present, especially in the tropical species. One in Australia has the only pure white phase. Accipiter is the largest genus in the family, having about fifty species. It is present worldwide, but is especially rich in Papua-New Guinea, where a small island like New Britain may have three to five endemic species or distinct sub-species.

Physical charateristics

The length is about 32-38cm wit ha wingspan of 50-60cm. Though females of all birds of prey are bigger than males, in this species the difference is much greater than usual. Adults’ eyes, cere, and legs are yellow to yellow-orange. In the eastern subspecies, adults have dark gray upperparts with lighter heads. The underparts are plain rufous and white. The tail is blackish with two or three big white patches. Juveniles are more or less unmarked blackish above and white below. In the western subspecies, adults are also dark above, but have a grayish throat and barring mixed with rufous on the underparts. They have three white patches on the tail. Juveniles are blackish-brown above and white with heavy brown spotting below.

Listen to the sound of Red-chested Goshawk

[audio: Goshawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 50 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 32 cm size max.: 38 cm
incubation min.: 30 days incubation max.: 33 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 36 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 4  


Africa : West, Westcentral


It inhabits low-altitude forests, especially rainforests and dense second growth, often near rivers and swamps, including mangroves. It can also occur in plantations, parks, and big gardens


The breeding season begins in July or August and ends in February. Unlike the African Goshawk, this species is said to perform flight displays only rarely. The nest is placed 6 to 20 meters above the ground in the main fork or on a side branch of a large tree, hidden by leaves or vines. It is built of sticks, 40 to cm across and 15 to 45 cm deep, with a lining of fresh leaves. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs (less often 1 or 4). As in most Accipitridae, the female incubates and cares for the young while the male supplies the food, with the female doing some of the hunting after the young are half-grown. Incubation lasts some 4 or 5 weeks, and the young fledge in 32 to 36 days. Juveniles probably molt directly into adult plumage when a little over one year old

Feeding habits

This species’ main foods are frogs and freshwater crabs. It takes more large insects than the African Goshawk, and also eats lizards, earthworms, and small mammals and birds. It hunts throughout the day, including dawn and dusk. Among its methods is waiting hidden in the forest canopy, often near an open space such as a trail or a body of water. It also flies quickly from tree to tree looking for prey that it can swoop down on or snatch, and flies beside lines of dense vegetation to surprise prey by flying through.[

Video Red-chested Goshawk


copyright: David Ascanio


Not yet recognized by bird.ife, but CITES states it as non=threatened


Apparently it does not migrate or wander except possibly for dispersal of young.

Distribution map

Red-chested Goshawk distribution range map

Leave a Reply

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