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Melierax metabates (Dark chanting goshawk) 

Donkersingvalk [Afrikaans]; Kakodi (generic term for sparrowhawks, goshawks, kestrels and falcons) [Kwangali]; donkere zanghavik [Dutch]; Autour sombre [French]; Graubürzel-singhabicht, Dunkler grauflügelhabicht [German]; Açor-cantor-escuro [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 metabates (Dark chanting goshawk)  Melierax metabates (Dark chanting goshawk) 

Dark chanting goshawk. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Dark chanting goshawk, South Africa. [photo Arno Meintjes ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occupies much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland equatorial forest of the DRC and West Africa. In southern Africa, it is scarce to locally common in north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers tall, well-developed broad-leaved woodland, especially with miombo (Brachystegia), Mopane (Colosphermum mopane), Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga), Knob thorn (Acacia nigrescens) and Marula (Sclerocarya birrea).

Distribution of Dark 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

Largely resident and sedentary, although it is partially nomadic in the dry season.


It eats a wide variety of animals, especially mammals, birds and reptiles; it typically hunts from a perch, from which it descends to catch prey on the ground or in the air. It may follow Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis), Southern ground-hornbills, dogs or humans, catching the prey they disturb. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester. Both sexes perform a courtship display, in which the male repeatedly dives at the female, who presents her claws.
  • Both sexes build the nest, which consists of a saucer-shaped platform of sticks, decorated with spider web and sometimes cemented with mud. The interior is lined with a variety of materials, including stones, mud rags, skin, dung, hair, birds nests, bark, seed pods and grass. The nest is typically placed in a tree, such as Mopane (Colosphermum mopane), Knob thorn (Acacia nigrescens), Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) or Mufuti (Brachystegia boehmii).
Melierax metabates (Dark chanting goshawk)   

Dark chanting goshawk at its nest with chick, Pretoriuskop area, Kruger National Park, South Africa,. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-November, peaking from August-October.
  • It lays 1-2, rarely 3 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 36-38 days, while the male regularly feeds her at the nest.
  • At first, the chicks are cared for by the female, while the male provides them all with food. The young leave the nest at about 50 days old, becoming fully independent roughly 3-8 months later. They disperse from their parents territory at the beginning of the following breeding season,


Not threatened, although it has been negatively affected by habitat destruction and persecution.


  • 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.