Dark Chanting-goshawk

Melierax metabates
Population status:
Least Concern
Body length:
42–50 cm (16.5-19.6 in)
86–104 cm (34-41 in)
646-842 g (22.7-29.7 oz)
Dark Chanting Goshawk


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Did You Know?

  • There are five recognized subspecies of the Dark Chanting-goshawk
  • The different subspecies of Dark Chanting-goshawk don't often overlap, as each prefers slightly different habitat. 
  • This species has been observed following Ground Hornbills and honey badgers. When the hornbills or badgers flush small animals, the goshawk swoops in and catches the distracted prey. 

Other Hawks

How The Peregrine Fund is Helping

Though The Peregrine Fund doesn't work directly with Dark Chanting-goshawk, in Kenya, our scientists are working hard to learn about and protect all raptors and their habitats. Through environmental education efforts, we are also working to put a stop to the common practice of poisoning carcasses to kill large predators, which also kills a host of wildlife including vultures, eagles, and other scavenging birds. These efforts will certainly benefit all raptors of the region, including the African Goshawk. 

Meanwhile, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve birds of prey around the world. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation. We also run the Global Raptor Impact Network which gives raptor researchers tools to more efficiently conduct their own studies while contributing to a global program. GRIN also provides citizen scientists a way to participate in raptor science and conservation.

Where They Live

The Dark Chanting-goshawk is found in throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  There, it makes its home in different habitat types, but seems to prefer moist, wooded savanna. It avoids areas that are very arid or very wet. The endemic Moroccan race theresae can be found in woodland, old olive groves, thornbush, palm, and orange groves, and the resident birds in southwestern Arabia frequent thornbush, acacia woodland, foothills, and wooded wadis - ravines or valleys that are dry most of the time, except for in rainy season.

Why They Need our Help

The Dark Chanting-goshawk is considered to be a common bird throughout most parts of its range. However, sadly, scientists have documented that some local populations are suffering declines. Though the species is categorized as Least Concern, it still faces many threats including habitat fragmentation and habitat loss, especially for the small, isolated populations in Morocco and the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, the Moroccan subspecies is locally considered to be Critically Endangered. There, its main habitats are being destroyed. 

What They Eat

This lovely raptor has a long list of animals on its menu. It feeds mostly on vertebrates both big and small. It most often consumes  lizard and small snakes, but it will also take birds that can be quite big, such as Helmeted Guineafowl and hornbills. It will also prey on mammals such as dwarf mongooses, squirrels, and mice. It has been observed feeding on insects including beetles and locusts. It is also known to scavenge on carrion

When on the hunt, this goshawk might spend a long time sitting on an exposed perch, laying in wait for unsuspecting prey to pass by. When it does, this goshawk dives to capture prey on the ground or chases after it in an aerial pursuit. It also spends time around grass fires to capture prey as they flee the flames and smoke. 

Nests, Eggs, and Young

When breeding season begins, Dark Chanting-goshawks engage in lovely courtship displays that involve chanting from the tops of trees, and magnificent aerial displays. The male and female work together to build their nest. They gather sticks to construct a platform nest in the fork of a large forest tree. They line the nest with other materials such as grass or mud, or even rags, stones, or small bird nests.

When the time is right, the female will lay 1-2 eggs and she will be responsible for incubating and otherwise caring for them for the following 36 days or so, until the nestlings hatch. Once they do, they will grow quickly and after around 50 days or less, they will be ready to fly from the nest for the first time.  Sadly, researchers have found that usually only one nestling survives. The young bird may remain in the nest area for up to five months.

Dark Chanting-goshawk and the World Center for Birds of Prey

The World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes are all available for our guests. We also have knowledgeable, on-site staff to answer any questions you may have. Though we don't have any goshawks on our Avian Ambassador team, the Northern Goshawk can be found in Idaho year-round. They nest in large trees within the Sawtooth National Forest located only a few hours away from The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey.


Boesman, P. F. D., A. C. Kemp, and G. M. Kirwan (2021). Dark Chanting-Goshawk (Melierax metabates), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.dacgos1.01.1

Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 27 Jan. 2022