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Dark chanting goshawk

Melierax metabates

Photo: Dark chanting goshawk
Weights and measures
Length 45 cm
Animal description
The Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates) is a captivating bird of prey that belongs to the Accipitridae family, which includes eagles, hawks, and kites. This raptor stands out for its striking appearance, remarkable hunting skills, and the melodious chanting sounds from which its name derives. Inhabiting a wide range of habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa, from arid savannas to woodlands and forest edges, this species showcases a remarkable adaptability that allows it to thrive in diverse environments.

Adult Dark Chanting Goshawks are medium-sized birds, typically measuring between 45 to 55 cm in length, with a wingspan that can reach up to 105 cm. They exhibit a sleek and powerful build, characteristic of birds of prey. The adult's plumage is predominantly grey, with the head and back showcasing a darker shade that contrasts beautifully with the lighter grey of their underparts. Their long legs, which are a striking red color, not only add a splash of color to their appearance but are also adapted for walking and running on the ground, which they often do while hunting. The eyes are a piercing yellow, and the beak is black with a sharp, hooked tip, perfect for tearing into their prey.

Juvenile Dark Chanting Goshawks present a more mottled appearance with brownish tones, which gradually transitions to the adult's grey as they mature. This camouflage serves as an effective defense mechanism against predators during their vulnerable early stages of life.

One of the most distinctive features of the Dark Chanting Goshawk is its vocalization. The bird is known for its "chanting" calls, particularly during the breeding season. These calls consist of a series of melodious notes that can be heard over long distances, serving as communication between mates and territorial displays.

In terms of diet, the Dark Chanting Goshawk is a versatile predator. Its diet primarily consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. They are known for their exceptional hunting skills, often observed perched high on a vantage point before swooping down on their prey with remarkable speed and precision. On occasion, they may also hunt on foot, showcasing their adaptability and resourcefulness.

Breeding season for the Dark Chanting Goshawk varies geographically, but it generally involves the construction of a large stick nest in a tree, where the female lays 1 to 3 eggs. Both parents take part in incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks until they fledge. The strong pair bond and cooperative parenting play a crucial role in the survival of their offspring.

Despite facing threats such as habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade, the Dark Chanting Goshawk is currently listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating a stable population across its range. However, ongoing conservation efforts are essential to ensure that this remarkable bird continues to thrive in the wild.

In summary, the Dark Chanting Goshawk is a fascinating and beautiful bird of prey, admired for its distinctive appearance, captivating calls, and impressive hunting prowess. Its adaptability to diverse habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa has made it a symbol of resilience and a cherished species among bird enthusiasts and conservationists alike.
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