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Black Goshawk - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Black Sparrowhawk)

Alternative names: Black Sparrowhawk; Great Sparrowhawk

Photo by megan perkins
Malindi, Kenya, April 2006
Accipiter melanoleucus


Length 46-58 cm, mass 476-1040 g; females larger than males.

Adult: Head, back, upper wings and rump black. Upper tail blackish brown with darker bars and tip. The chin and throat are white, and the lower flanks are usually black, but the rest of the underparts vary from all-black to all-white.


Forests and woodlands in sub-Saharan Africa.



Accipiter melanoleucus has two subspecies that differ in size and plumage colouration:

  • A. m. temminckii:
  • A. m. melanoleucus:


Forests, woodlands, plantations and wooded gardens.


Solitary; usually inconspicuous as it spends much time perched in the canopy of large trees.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is typically a large platform (300-750 mm high), more than 8 m above the ground in a large tree. Uses nests of Bat Hawk, Black Kite, Wahlberg's Eagle, Crowned Hawk-Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, other accipiters, African Harrier Hawk and Hamerkop. One to four eggs are laid May to September in southern Africa.

Immature Black Goshawk
Photo by Alan Manson
Cedara Farm, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Prey is mainly (>98%) birds taken in flight, often within the canopy; will chase prey up to 1.5 km. Doves and pigeons usually constitute at least 66% of prey items.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN 0620340533
  3. Lepage D. 2007. Avibase. Search for "Black Goshawk" downloaded May 2008.
  4. Sinclair I & Ryan P. 2003. Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0620207299

Recommended Citation

External Links

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