|Captive adult female|
|Global range Year-Round Range Summer Range Winter Range|
The African goshawk is a medium-sized to large Accipiter which is mainly grey and rufous with the typical broad winged and long tailed shape of its genus. The adult has grey upperparts which tend to be darker in males than in females, the underparts are whitish marked with rufous barring which is more rufous and heavier in the males. The underwing is pale rufous fading to white on some birds and the flight feathers and tail vary from sooty brown to grey with faint grey bars above, white with grey bars below. The bill is black, the cere is greenish-grey, the eyes are yellow and the legs and feet are yellow. Juveniles are brown above and boldly blotched with brown and with brown flank bars too. Females weigh 270–510 g (9.5–18.0 oz), while smaller males weigh 150–340 g (5.3–12.0 oz). They wingspan is 172–225 mm (6.8–8.9 in) for males and 211–275 mm (8.3–10.8 in) in females, the wingspan is 1.7 times the bird's total length.
It is noisy when displaying, when it makes its characteristic clicking call, like two stones being knocked together, which is made every 2–3 seconds.
The African goshawk generally occurs in forest and diverse dense woodland in both lowland and montane areas, but it can also be found in riverine and gallery forest, plantations of exotic trees, parks and large gardens. It can occur in both moist and dry forest, even in isolated patches.
The African goshawk is typically soars above the canopy in the morning in a display flight involving slow wing beats interspersed with gliding, sometimes so high up that the only sign of the birds is its regular clicking call. Its main prey is birds up to the size of hornbills or francolins, it also feeds on mammals and lizards. It is an ambush hunter, waiting on a perch until the prey is observed then swooping down to catch it. Pairs occasionally hunt co-operatively at large congregations of prey, such as bat roosts or weaver colonies. Invertebrates are also sometimes recorded as prey.
The African goshawk is territorial and the typical courtship display is performed by both sexes where they fly together in an undulated flight while calling loudly, sometimes finishing with a steep dive. The females builds the nest making a platform of sticks lined with fresh foliage, as well as pine needles, lichen and mistletoe. It is normally built on a branch away from the main trunk of a tree, as they prefer to nest within dense foliage but the nest may also be constructed on top of an old Hadeda ibis nest, They have also been recorded taking over the nest of a little sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus instead of building their own. The 1-3 eggs are laid in July–December, with a peak in September–November and are incubated mainly or solely by the female for about 35–37 days, while the male regularly brings food to her. The chicks are fed by both parents, fledging at about 30–35 days old but staying within the vicinity of the nest tree for another six weeks or so before becoming fully independent roughly 1–3 months after leaving the nest.
They have been recorded as being preyed on by the black sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleuca, the tawny eagle Aquila rapax, the Cape eagle-owl Bubo capensis, the lanner falcon Falco biarmicus and the peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus.
It is often considered conspecific with the western subspecies group of Red-chested goshawk Accipiter toussenelii of western and central Africa in which case the West African goshawk Accipiter macroscelides split.
There are three currently recognised subspecies which are:
- Accipiter tachiro tachiro: Southern Angola to Mozambique and South Africa
- Accipiter tachiro sparsimfasciatus: Somalia to northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Zambia and Mozambique
- Accipiter tachiro pembaensis: Pemba
- "African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro". Birdlife International. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- Kemp, Alan; Kemp, Meg (1998). SASOL Birds of Prey of Africa and its Islands. New Holland. pp. 172–173. ISBN 1 85974 100 2.
- Ferguson-Lees, James; Christie, David A. (2001). Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm. pp. 321–323. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1.
- "Accipiter tachiro (African goshawk)". Biodiversity Explorer. Iziko Museums of South Africa. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- "African goshawk Accipiter tachiro (Daudin 1800)". Avibase. Denis Lepage. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- African Goshawk - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds