Pale Chanting Goshawk

A beautiful, medium-sized bird of prey with an elegant poise about it

South Africa BirdlifeThe Pale Chanting Goshawk {Melierax canorus}

The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a beautiful, medium-sized bird of prey with an elegant poise about it. Both the male and female have grey plumage that becomes paler from the head, extending downwards onto the bird’s back.

The underside of the bird is white with a fine grey wavy pattern. The chest is characterised by a pale grey colouration, while the tail is dark grey with white barring. The legs and feet are red.

The strong, hooked bill is black with an orange cere and gape. These bright splashes stand out, adding a beautiful feature to these otherwise subtle-coloured raptors.

Female Pale Chanting Goshawks are larger than the males of this species.

Quick Facts


Range mass: 410 – 750g (males) and 750 – 1 000g (females).
Range length: 46 to 54 cm.
Range wingspan: 105 to 115 cm.


The Pale Chanting Goshawk opts for habitats that are open and spacious. Desert plains or thorny, semi-desert bushveld are ideal. Usually, a breeding pair of these Goshawks will stick to a well-defined territory, or home range. They will occupy one group of trees, and use these as their lodging place between hunting trips. The Pale Chanting Goshawk also frequently walks on the ground in search of prey, and can run at impressive speeds.


This bird species can be found in eastern and southern Africa. Visitors to South Africa will be well-rewarded if they keep a lookout for this raptor.


The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a hunter, and feeds mainly on the lizards, insects and small mammals that live in the long grasses of its habitat. It can also seize small birds in flight.


Although it is usually a quiet species, the male can become rather vocal during the breeding season. He will perch at the top of a tree and call to the female in a series of kleeu-ku-ku-ku noises.


Although pairs are almost always exclusive and loyal, it may be the case that one female and two males form a breeding trio where the habitat necessitates it. The pair of raptors will frequently be seen circling together in an impressive display of cooperation.

The Pale Chanting Goshawk builds its small nest in Acacia trees, between 10 and 30 feet from the ground level. The nest is made of sticks and other materials that the birds can find, including dung and grass.

The female lays one or two eggs with a few days’ interval between them, and she incubates them for the entire period, not assisted by the male. Usually, only one chick is reared.


There is an incubation period of between 33 and 37 days for this species.

Life Expectancy

Although the average lifespan of a wild Pale Chanting Goshawk remains unknown, those in captivity are believed to live for over 20 years.


This bird does not face any major threats.


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