Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Red-chested Goshawk (Accipiter toussenelii)


French: Autour de Toussenel German: Rotbrusthabicht Spanish: Azor de Toussenel

Nisus Toussenelii

J. P. Verreaux et al.#R#R

, 1855,



Closely related to A. tachiro and A. castanilius#R. Often considered conspecific with A. tachiro, but differs in size (at least 1), unbarred thighs (2), greater extent of rufous on underparts (2), and parapatric distribution in the E Lower Guinea forest belt (3); moreover, molecular evidence supports present arrangement#R. However, “apparent lack of display flight”, a character difference mentioned in HBW, mistaken, as flight display like that of A. tachiro observed repeatedly in Gabon in Jun and Jul 1999#R. Form canescens sometimes treated as race of A. tachiro, but morphologically is much closer to toussenelii#R. Form unduliventer usually treated as subspecies of A. tachiro, but has the unbarred thighs and more rufous underparts of present species; possibly merits status of separate species, as genetic divergence between it and other races is similar to that between tachiro and toussenelii#R. Races macroscelides and lopezi have been considered to form another full species. Proposed race croizati, founded on two specimens from SW Ethiopia, now judged to be synonym of unduliventer#R. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. t. macroscelides (Hartlaub, 1855) – West African Goshawk – Senegambia to W Cameroon in rainforest.
  • A. t. lopezi (Alexander, 1903) – Bioko I.
  • A. t. toussenelii (J. P. Verreaux et al., 1855) – Red-chested Goshawk – S Cameroon to Gabon and N & W DRCongo (in lower Congo Basin).
  • A. t. canescens (Chapin, 1921) – upper Congo Basin (NE DRCongo and W Uganda).
  • A. t. unduliventer (Rüppell, 1836) – Ethiopian Goshawk – Eritrea and Ethiopian Highlands.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–48 cm; male 150–240 g, female 270–365 g; wingspan 55–80 cm. Dark upperparts contrast with pale rufous barring of underparts; head smallish and grey... read more


    Call described as series of sharp “kwit!” or “whit” notes, repeated at intervals of 2–3 seconds.... read more


    Lowland tropical evergreen rainforest and adjacent secondary forest; also montane gallery forest.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few quantitative data. Small mammals (including squirrels and mice), birds, frogs, lizards (e.g. chameleons), and insects. Known to attack... read more


    Season Dec–Feb in Ghana; laying Aug, Oct in Sierra Leone, with juveniles frequent in dry season; laying estimated Oct–Nov in... read more


    No movements recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and common where large tracts of forest habitat remain; in Sierra Leone and Ghana, common throughout lowland... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Red-chested Goshawk (Accipiter toussenelii). 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 26 February 2020).