Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Pale Chanting-goshawk (Melierax canorus)


French: Autour chanteur German: Großer Singhabicht Spanish: Azor lagartijero claro
Other common names: Southern Pale Chanting-goshawk

Falco canorus


, 1799,

South Africa


Sometimes considered conspecific with M. poliopterus, but differs on account of larger size (male wing 328–346 vs 305–326) (score at least 2); much whiter secondaries, forming distinct mottled white wingpanel at rest (2); red cere and legs vs yellow cere and orange legs (3); greyer dorsal area without darker grey-brown smudging (1); and (in juvenile) more uniform underparts#R. Form argentior perhaps poorly differentiated, paleness possibly result of clinal variation. Author of original description previously given as Rislachi#R. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. argentior Clancey, 1960 – SW Angola S and E through Namibia, Botswana and SW Zimbabwe to N South Africa (E to C Limpopo and NW Free State).
  • M. c. canorus (Thunberg, 1799) – S South Africa from Western Cape to SE Free State and C Eastern Cape; formerly also S KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Descriptive notes

    46–60 cm; male 493–750 g, female 700–1300 g; wingspan 102–123 cm. White flecking on greater wing-coverts, pale secondaries and plain white rump... read more


    Mainly silent except in breeding season, when gives loud melodious chanting similar to but perhaps... read more


    Dry thorn savanna, arid steppe and even true desert with a few trees or woody succulents; thus,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small vertebrates, especially lizards and rodents, but also birds up to the size of francolin or small bustard and even more exceptionally... read more


    Laying Jun–Dec in South Africa, but season overall Jun–Mar (mostly Jul–Jan). Chants from prominent perch with tail spread... read more


    No regular movements recorded (species occupies permanently defended territories of 200–1000... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and common in semi-arid areas, with 400–900 pairs at edge of range in W Transvaal, South Africa. Home... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Pale Chanting-goshawk (Melierax canorus). 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 23 February 2020).