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Species Guide
A photo of a Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus)
Pale Chanting Goshawk

Pale Chanting Goshawk

Melierax canorus

The Pale Chanting Goshawk, Melierax canorus, presents a striking figure with its approximate length of 55 cm and a wingspan reaching 110 cm. Adults display a dignified grey plumage on their upperparts, complemented by a pristine white rump. The central tail feathers are adorned with black tips and white, while the outer feathers exhibit a grey and white barred pattern. A pale grey head and upper breast transition to underparts finely barred with dark grey and white. The eyes of the adult are a deep brown, contrasting with the pale yellow of the immature's. A red base bill, darkening to grey at the tip, matches the red cere, facial skin, and elongated legs.

Identification Tips

In flight, the adult Pale Chanting Goshawk reveals black primary flight feathers, strikingly pale grey secondaries, and grey forewings, which may appear almost white from a distance. The immature birds can be distinguished by their brown upperparts, white rump, and black-barred tail. Below, their flight feathers and tail are white with black barring, and the throat is marked with dark-streaked white, while the rest of the underparts are a warm rufous.


This species is a denizen of dry, open semi-desert regions, favoring areas with less than 75 cm of annual rainfall. It is often observed perched on roadside telephone poles, surveying its domain.


The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a resident bird of southern Africa, where it occupies a vast range across the drier landscapes.


These goshawks are known to hunt from elevated perches, such as trees and telephone poles, but are also adept at walking on the ground in pursuit of prey. They are opportunistic raptors, feeding on a diverse diet. During the breeding season, both sexes are known to be vocal, often heard delivering a melodious whistling from treetop perches.

Song & Calls

The breeding call is a tuneful whistling "kleeu-kleeu-kleeu-ku-ku-ku," typically performed from a lofty perch.


The Pale Chanting Goshawk constructs a modest stick nest within a tree or on a man-made structure, lining it with soft materials such as animal fur or silk from spider nests. The female lays two, sometimes one or three, chalky white eggs, with usually only one chick being raised to fledging. The breeding cycle spans over 115 days, beginning in midwinter. Some pairs may even attempt a second brood.

Similar Species

It is larger and paler than its relative, the barred-rumped dark chanting goshawk, Melierax metabates.

Diet and Feeding

An adaptable predator, the Pale Chanting Goshawk's diet includes small mammals, lizards, birds, large insects, and carrion. Remarkably, it has been observed to associate with foraging honey badgers, capitalizing on prey flushed by these industrious mammals.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Pale Chanting Goshawk as Least Concern, indicating a stable population within its range.

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Pale Chanting Goshawk Fun Facts

Did you know?
Pale Chanting Goshawks are known to follow Honey Badgers and feed on organisms that the Honey Badger flushes.

Pale Chanting Goshawks on Birda


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