Monday, July 21, 2014

Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk

In Buffalo Springs National Reserve we encountered an eastern pale chanting goshawk standing in the top of a thorny acacia tree, identified for us by Stephen, our guide and Land Cruiser driver. I have heard the term goshawk since a youth and have always thought of it as an exotic raptor, one that I had never previously encountered. Now, there before us, was a pretty ordinary looking raptor with this exotic name. What is a goshawk and how is a goshawk different from some other kind of hawk? 

It turns out that there are about 18 species of goshawk and they are grouped in the genus Accipiter with about 19 species of sparrowhawk, as well as some other raptors such as the sharp-shinned hawk and Cooper's hawk, birds I am familiar with. These raptors are slender with short broad rounded wings and a long tail, long legs and long sharp talons and a sharp hooked bill. They are distinguished by the lack of a procoracoid foramen, which has something to do with the shoulder assembly. Enough of that. 
Eastern pale chanting goshawk in Buffalo Springs NR. Photo by Judy.
The eastern pale chanting goshawk is also known as the Somali chanting goshawk. As I get more familiar with the African animals, I am struck by how many are identified by the term "Somali." I don't think I've run into any animals known as "Ethiopian" or "Kenyan" or "Tanzanian" or "Ugandan," etc. But several "Somali." This goshawk is found in southern Ethiopia, Djibouti, western Somalia, eastern Kenya, northeastern Tanzania and Uganda. It has a gray head, neck, breast and upperparts, except for white or lightly barred uppertail coverts. The belly has narrow gray and white bars. The upper portion of the bill (the cere) is yellow, the legs are orange/red and the eyes are red. 

It just helps illustrate that there is a huge world out there that I know nothing about, but I do enjoy dipping my big toe into this unfamiliar pond to begin to learn a little about it. 

1 comment:

  1. So why is it called a "chanting" goshawk? We didn't hear its call. Is it unusual?