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SOUTH AFRICA HOLIDAY: HAWKS

The Goshawks and Sparrowhawks are small to medium sized birds with rounded wings and long tails. They hunt by a dash-and-seize technique, some have very log toes designed to grip their prey. Other hawks include the Bat Hawk and the Cuckoo Hawk.

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African Goshawk

Afrikaans: Afrikaanse sperwer
Might be confused with the Cuckoo Hawk but has short, rounded wings and long yellow legs, whereas when in flight the Cuckoo Hawk appears more falcon-shaped. General colour resembles closely the Little Sparrowhawk, but its greater size and lack of white tail spots distinguish this species.
Habitat: Common in thick evergreen forests, riverine forests in dry areas, and exotic plantations in the south, east and north.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

Afrikaans: Donkersingvalk
Much darker grey than the Pale Chanting Goshawk. At rest the grey forewing does not contracts with the rest of the wing as in the Pale Chanting Goshawk. In flight the white rump is noticeably barred.
Habitat: Thinly distributed in the extreme north-east.

Gabar Goshawk

Afrikaans: Kleinsingvalk
Distinguished by its grey throat and breast, red cere and legs. Could be confused with Lizard Buzzard but that has a white throat with a central stripe and a broad white tail band.
Habitat: Found throughout the central, north and eastern parts of South Africa, although uncommon. Prefers thornveld and open broad-leaved woodland.

Little Banded Goshawk

Afrikaans: Gebandespewer
Stockier than the smaller Little Sparrowhawk and lacks the white rump and tail spots. Differs from the Ovambo Sparrowhawk by its russet, not grey barring below, and yellow not orange legs.
Habitat: Common in the north-east, avoids evergreen forests and dry regions.

Pale Chanting Goshawk

Afrikaans: Bleeksingvalk
Confusion with the Dark form only arises in the north-east where their ranges may overlap. This species is a much paler grey, especially on the forewings, and has a pure white rump and white secondaries.
Habitat: This is the common roadside hawk in all parts of South Africa except the eastern side.

Cuckoo Hawk

Afrikaans: Koekoevalk
At rest resembles the male African Goshawk but differs by having a crest, a grey throat and upper breast which end abruptly in a bib, and a heavily rust-barred breast and belly. In flight has long pointed wings, not pointed as in the African Goshawk but has shorter legs, a small crest and in flight, pointed, not rounded wings.
Habitat: Uncommon and thinly distributed in the south, east and north in well-wooded areas.

Black Sparrowhawk

Afrikaans: Swartsperwer
The largest Sparrowhawk of the region. The black and white plumage, and the large size render this species unmistakable.
Habitat: Found throughout the southern, east and north-east in a wide range of wooded areas and exotic plantations.

Little Sparrowhawk

Afrikaans: Kleinsperwer
Distinguished from the similar Little Banded Goshawk and the much larger African Goshawk by its white rump and two white spots on the upper tail.
Habitat: Prefers open woodland but has adapted to exotic plantations. Found in the south from Cape Town, round the south and east cost and into the north-east of South Africa.

Ovambo Sparrowhawk

Afrikaans: Ovambosperwer
Best distinguished from similar Little Banded Goshawk by heavier barring below, grey not rufus barred black and white tail, and orange not yellow cere and legs.
Habitat: Thinly distributed in open broad-leafed woodlands in the north-east of South Africa.

Red-breasted Sparrowhawk

Afrikaans: Rooiborsperwer
Identified by uniformly rufus underparts, slate grey upperparts, lack of white rump and little barring on wings and tail.
Habitat: An inconspicuous species which has adapted to eucalyptus and pine plantations from Cape Town round the south and east up to the Limpopo.

Bat Hawk

Afrikaans: Vlermuisvalk
A dark brown bird, appearing black in the field, with a varying amount of white on throat and abdomen. Very falcon-shaped in flight and could easily be mistaken for a lanner Falcon or Peregrine Falcon if seen in twilight when colours are not discernible. Wings are broader at the base and tail appears shorter than in either of these species and, when seen effortlessly catching bats in flight, this bird leaves no doubt as to its identification.
Habitat: Woodlands, confined to the east and north-east
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