Although considered to be a common African Accipiter, the African goshawk
, Accipiter tachiro
, has eluded my photo album for many years. Often spotted in forests and woodlands, it invariably took off before I could get it in the view finder. In contrast this juvenile was unflappable! It remained perched on a branch overhanging a 4x4 track in Ndumo Game Reserve while I manoeuvred my Landie to get the best angles allowed by the restrictive terrain.
Plumage variation in juvenile birds can cause some frantic searching of identification resources because the pattern of spotting on front and back is quite variable and much different from the adult form. The median throat stripe and white eyebrow of a juvenile African goshawk should put the observer on the right track though.
The rear view of this accommodating bird shows the broad dark tail bars without any white spots that is a typical feature of this species.
This goshawk feeds mainly on small birds (66%, up to the size of Grey go-away-bird) and mammals (30%, bats, rodents and squirrels). Reptiles, amphibians and insects make up the rest of this goshawk’s diet. The tenacious, short-winged goshawk hunts from a perch from which their prey is pursued with aerobatic flair and caught after a short dash. The large eye of this goshawk is a clue that it hunts in low-light conditions in dense forests and woodlands.
The African Goshawk is a monogamous bird that mates for life. Interestingly females are generally much larger than males, sometimes weighing twice as much. Their plumage patterns are markedly different also. This level of sexual dimorphism in size and colouration is rarely reached in any other genus Falconiformes.