African Goshawk | Accipiter tachiro

The African Goshawk is nearly twice the size of a Dove and is a fairly common South African raptor. It is the most well known Hawk in the forests and thicker areas of Southern Africa.

African GoshawkRoberts General Information On The African Goshawk

The African Goshawk is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the African Goshawk (Latin name Accipiter tachiro) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Accipiter tachiro can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 160 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 512. You will find a picture of the African Goshawk on page 433.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the African Goshawk between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The African Goshawk is known in Afrikaans as Afrikaanse Sperwer.

The African Goshawk has a height of 38 cms and weighs around 45 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured grey. The Accipiter tachiro has a white coloured throat, yellow legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Accipiter tachiro has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is grey.

Eyes are brown.

Bill is grey.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is white.

Back is brown.

Photo's Of The African Goshawk & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult Female African Goshawk
Non Breeding Plumage N/A


African Goshawk Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The African Goshawk strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The Accipiter tachiro attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The African Goshawk eats the eggs of its victim.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The African Goshawk uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.

African Goshawk Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The African Goshawk is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 3 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The African Goshawk is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests.

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The African Goshawk is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks.