Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

African Harrier-hawk (Polyboroides typus)


French: Gymnogène d’Afrique German: Höhlenweihe Spanish: Aguilucho caricalvo común
Other common names: African Gymnogene

Polyboroides Typus

A. Smith

, 1829,

South Africa


Often considered conspecific with P. radiatus (which see). Birds from W DRCongo sometimes awarded separate race, prigoginei. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. t. pectoralis Sharpe, 1903 – Senegambia E, N to Aïr Mts (NW Niger), to W Sudan and S to DRCongo and NW Angola (Cabinda).
  • P. t. typus A. Smith, 1829 – E Sudan to Eritrea, E Africa and S to Angola and S Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    51–68 cm; male 500–710 g (pectoralis), female 580–820 g (pectoralis), sexes combined 642–950 g (typus); wingspan 118–... read more


    Loud, far-reaching “wah…wah…wah…wah” sometimes followed by lower-pitched “rugh”. In flight, gives a... read more


    All forms of forest, from moist woodlands to savanna and arid steppe; also Ethiopian highlands. In... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small animals, such as birds, their eggs and nestlings, bats, squirrels, lizards, various arthropods and insect larvae; these are... read more


    Little information for such a common and widespread species. Laying Nov–May in W & NE Africa; Oct in E Kenya; Jun–Dec in S... read more


    Resident and sedentary in most areas, but a regular wet-season migrant into Sahel zone in some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. One of the commonest birds of prey in forests and open woodlands of W Africa, especially where oil and Borassus... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Marks, J.S. (2019). African Harrier-hawk (Polyboroides typus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 May 2019).