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Pale Chanting Goshawk

Southern pale chanting goshawks (or PCGs in birding lingo) are the most common and wide spread raptors in Namibia. If you see a bird of prey perched on a telegraph pole, it most likely to be a PCG.

Appearance:
Various shades of grey, with a white rump and a finely barred grey and white belly. Wings are darker on the outer feathers and very light grey for the shorter inner flight feathers. Tail feathers are barred dark grey and white, getting darker towards the centre. They have a hooked black bill but the orange cere (upper bill) and gape are more visibly recognisable. Eyes are reddy brown. Legs and feet are orangey-red.

Size:
c. 50cm, wingspan 1.1m

Behaviour:
Pale Chanting Goshawks perch on treetops or telegraph poles to scan the landscape for prey. They then dive down to grab the prey in their claws. They are also known to chase prey along the ground. With their long legs they are surprisingly agile at this. Another cunning trick is that they follow foraging honey badgers or mongooses. In the process of looking for food, they will flush out prey that the goshawk can then steal.

Diet:
Mainly lizards, insects, small mammals and carrion. It can also seize small birds in flight.

Breeding:
Although usually a quiet species, the male Pale Chanting Goshawk can become rather vocal during the breeding season. He will perch at the top of a tree and call to the female in a series of “kleeu-kleeu-klu-klu-klu” calls. Breeding pairs are almost always exclusive and loyal. They build a small, loose-structured nest in thorn trees or on poles, constructed from small sticks and other material such as dung and grass. The female lays 1-2 eggs and incubates them for the entire period (roughly a month). The male is unlikely to assist with egg-sitting duties. However, he does bring food for the female to feed to the young once they hatch. Due to the lack of food and/or predators, generally only one chick survives. They start to fly when they are about 6 – 7 weeks old. The young will remain near the nest for at least the next couple of months.

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