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Melierax canorus (Southern pale chanting goshawk, Pale chanting goshawk) 

Bleeksingvalk [Afrikaans]; Zanghavik [Dutch]; Autour chanteur [French]; Weißbürzel-singhabicht, Heller grauflügelhabicht [German]; Açor-cantor-pálido [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae > Genus: Melierax

Melierax canorus (Southern pale chanting goshawk, Pale chanting goshawk) 

Melierax canorus (Southern pale chanting goshawk, Pale chanting goshawk) 

Southern pale chanting goshawk, just outside the Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Southern pale chanting goshawk, Beaufort West, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-western Angola to Namibia, Botswana, south-western Zimbabwe and the western half of South Africa. It generally prefers Karoo shrubland, Kalahari woodland, Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland, Acacia thornveld and riverine woodland in the Namib Desert - any habitat with patches of open ground (exposing prey) and perches to hunt from.

Distribution of Southern pale chanting goshawk in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

It can be both sedentary and nomadic, as juveniles disperse widely from their parents' territory.


It mainly eats mammals, doing most of its hunting from a perch, descending to the ground to pursue and strike it's prey. It sometimes forages in family groups, so that some of the family members can flush prey, which another family member hunts down. It also follows Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas), Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis), Slender mongooses (Galerella sanguinea), Rock monitors (Varanus albigularis) and Cape cobras (Naja nivea), catching the prey that they disturb. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Mainly monogamous, but in the Little Karoo it may be cooperatively polyandrous, as one female can mate with a primary male, while another male assists them with breeding activities (occasionally mating with the female). This behaviour only occurs in high-quality territories, which have to be viciously defended. In fact, males from opposing territories sometimes fight to the death.
  • The nest is built by both sexes (including an additional male if it they are a trio), consisting of a stick platform with a central cup. This can be lined with a wide variety of materials, including dung, regurgitated carnivore pellets, hair, wool, penduline-tit and prinia nests, Common ostrich feathers, webs of Social spider (Stegodyphus dumicola), grass, fabric, paper, string, rope, plastic bags and cabling. When it builds a new nest each breeding season, it often moves the lining from the old structure to the new one. The nest can be placed in a variety of sites, especially the following:
    • trees
      • Acacia
        • A. erioloba (Camel thorn)
        • A. luderetzii (Balloon thorn)
        • A. hebeclada (Candle-pod thorn)
        • A. tortilis (Umbrella thorn)
        • A. nigrescens (Knob thorn)
      • Colosphermum mopane (Mopane)
      • Terminalia prunioides (Purple-pod cluster-leaf)
      • Faidherbia albida (Ana-tree)
      • Philenoptera violacea (Apple-leaf)
      • Gymnosporia senegalensis (Confetti spikethorn)
      • Gymnosporia polycantha (Hedge spikethorn)
      • Ziziphus mucronata (Buffalo-thorn)
      • Tamarix usneoides (Wild tamarisk)
      • Boscia (shepherds-tree)
      • aliens
        • Casuarina equisetifolia (Beefwood)
        • Pinus (pines)
    • man-made structures
      • utility poles
      • survey beacons
      • steel pylons
  • Egg-laying season is from May-December, peaking from July-November.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 35 days, both vigorously defending the eggs from intruders.
  • At first, the chicks are brooded and fed by the female, with food provided by the male or males; she later joins them on hunting trips. They leave the nest at about 44-51 days old, becoming fully independent roughly 30-81 days, after which they remain in their parents' territory for at least one more year.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.