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Billede information:
Titel / info: Rovfugl sp - hjælp !
Lokalitet: Kruger Park, sydlige del, Sydafrika
Dato: 30. december 2008
Billede info: Kan nogen hjælpe med bestemmelsen af denne sydafrikanske høg. Da den ikke passer med noget i min fieldguide, tror jeg der er tale om en ungfugl. Det er jo tydeligt en høg - byttet er en gnaver eller lille pattedyr - og høgen var 35-40 cm lang. Den sad på en gren i ca 5 meters højde. Kombinationen af stribet bryst, unsfarvet strube, gule øjne og rødlige ben kan jeg ingensteder finde i min guide. Nogen forslag ? Tak. Bo
Billede opsætning: Canon 40D & 500 mm
Fotograf: Bo Tureby, Danmark
Uploadet den: 10. februar 2009
Hits: Billedet har været vist 5128 gange.


Ole Krogh skriver tirsdag 10. februar 2009 kl. 15.45
Hej Bo

Det ligner en Gabar Goshawk - (Melierax gabar).


Bedste hilsner

ragnar smith skriver tirsdag 10. februar 2009 kl. 18.31
enig det er en gabar goshawk

Bent Bøggild Pedersen skriver tirsdag 10. februar 2009 kl. 23.25
Hej Bo

Southern Banded Snake Eagle adult.
En Gabar Goshawk har langt mere stribet bryst og en vingespids langt indenfor halespidsen
Hilsen Bent

Mathias Braasch skriver onsdag 11. februar 2009 kl. 10.50
Hm... after consulting Ole's link and "Birds of Africa south of the Sahara" by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan i would prefer Gabar Goshawk. Sometimes size can matter: the Southern Banded Snake Eagle has a size between 55 and 60 cm, the Gabar Goshawk is much smaller, about 28-36 cm. So maybe that can help for a final identification.

Hilsen! Mats

Søren Skov skriver onsdag 11. februar 2009 kl. 17.15
Det er ikke en Gabar Goshawk, da denne vil være langt mere langhalet.
Valget står derfor mellem Southern Banded Snake Eagle eller en Cuckoo Falcon.
Desværre kan man hverken se halen eller baghovedet, hvor Cuckoo Falcon har en top, men normalt ville Cuckoo Falcons øvre bryst være mere grå og selve hovedet meget mere gøgelignende. Fuglen er derfor en Southern Banded Snake Eagle

De bedste hilsner
Søren Skov

Tau Rasmussen skriver onsdag 11. februar 2009 kl. 17.46
Hvorfor er den mere korthalede, og rødbenede Dark Chanting Goshawk ikke inde i billedet? Tau.

Mark Walker skriver onsdag 11. februar 2009 kl. 21.29
Having spent time in living in the Transvaal as a child and spending much time bird watching I can say this is not a Southern Banded Eagle (size and lack of rounded head) or Gabar Goshawk (eye colour and wing length). This is a Cuckoo Hawk (aviceda cuculoides), size, eye colour and wing pattern and wing legnth are all in preportion. Check out "Birds of Southern Africa" (Sinclair, Hockey, Tarboton).

All the best

Søren Skov skriver torsdag 12. februar 2009 kl. 07.27
If this bird was a cuckoo hawk, the head should be lesser and the bill longer.
The whole head in the cuckoo hawk is much more cuckoo-like than this bird. Also on the Cuckoo Hawk the upper chest should be grey - on this bird the upper chest is chestnut.
I still belive this bird is a Southern Banded Snake Eagle.

Best regards
Søren Skov

Jon Lehmberg skriver torsdag 12. februar 2009 kl. 13.03
Hello Bo and others ,

It’s always interesting with pictures like this one , who results in a good discussion. Sadly I don’t think I can help with a definite identification , but I do have some thoughts I would like to share:

In my mind there are five possibilities: Southern banded snake-eagle , two species of chanting goshawks , gabar goshawk and african cuckoo hawk. Bearing in mind that the picture was taken in Krüger NP , southern banded snake-eagle and pale chanting goshawk are certainly not the most likely candidates but can’t be discarded based solely on that.
However , I think that this bird is not a southern banded snake-eagle for several reasons: First of all the snake-eagle is a fairly big bird with a length of 55-60cm which is 50% more than this birds 35-40cm stated by Bo , who also called it “obviously a hawk”. I also think that the legs , being very long , slender and orange , are all wrong for the snake-eagle. Regarding the length of the tail versus the length of the wing , I think that it might not be possible to determine that from this picture. To me the feathers protruding from under the big branch is not tail and right wingtip , but rather either only the tail (split) , or tail and the tip of the left wing – in case of the latter , the left wing would be hanging in an odd way , and thus not of help in determining the length.
Regarding african cuckoo hawk , I think that Søren S. has made a good case of why it’s not that species , and again the legs doesn’t fit the species at all. Therefore this bird is , in my mind , either a gabar goshawk or one of the chanting goshawks.
Obviously it isn’t an adult bird due to the piercing yellow and black eye and the brownish , rather than greyish , overall impression – whether it’s a 1st or 2nd cy bird I can’t say. At first I was also fooled by the coarsely barred lower breast , flank and belly , but after having looked through quite a few pictures of the three species I can see , that this is not at all unusual. Some argues that the tail length is not right for gabar goshawk , and it’s true that this species will often have a conspicuously long tail , but this character is highly variable and I do think that this bird is within the limit.
The colouration of the bare parts (the legs an intermediate colour between the yellow of juveniles and the red of adults) , the length of the legs and the pattern and colouration of the plumage are all consistent with one of the three species , and my guess is that this is either a gabar goshawk or a dark chanting goshawk.
For some pictures of birds looking quite similar to this one , check these links:
- allegedly a gabar goshawk.

- allegedly dark chanting goshawks.


PS. Do you have more pictures of this bird , Bo?

Uffe Gjøl Sørensen skriver torsdag 12. februar 2009 kl. 13.24
LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) is a well-known problem when identifying African birds - and a likewise African challenge could be called MBRs = Medium-sized Brown Raptor. Jon has already made a detailed discussed and let me add to this:

To my eye, the key to the identification is at first to forget the plumage and instead focus on some definite structural aspects: Legs, tail/wing length and bill/head proportions: (1) The bill is rather small. This excludes Southern Banded Snake Eagle (which also has even bigger head). (2) The tarsus is thin and long with rather weak feet. This again excludes Southern Banded Snake-Eagle but also African Hawk-Cuckoo. (3) The wing-tip almost reaches the tip of the tail. This excludes - as already pointed out - Gabar Goshawk (and perhaps again the Snake-eagle). The only species to have passed this step-wise analysis is Dark Chanting Goshawk - as suggest by Tau.

Now turning to the plumage the brownish upper breast with some pale on chin, the brownish barred breast/belly, and the distinct reddish colour to the long legs are all characters which fits the immature Dark Chanting Goshawk. One can check additional pictures in the photo-data-base on the web-site for African Bird Club, cf. the links mentioned by Jon.

Characters to exclude the otherwise appealing suggestion of an African Cuckoo-Hawk have already been pointed out by Søren. For Gabar Goshawk it could be mentioned that the bird on the picture does no show distinct white tips to the secondaries, which is an important character for this species (and nicely shown on the Ole’s picture, cf. the link in his comment).

As mentioned by Jon there are two species of Chanting Goshawk in Southern Africa, and the immatures are very difficult. But the Dark Chanting Goshawk is the species to seen in Kruger NP, so I believe it is the likely species.

Ole Krogh skriver torsdag 12. februar 2009 kl. 13.53
I now vote for Dark Chanting Goshawk, juvenile.

Jon Lehmberg skriver fredag 13. februar 2009 kl. 10.27
Hi Uffe ,

I think you’re making some very good points , though I disagree on the tail-/wing length issue. In your step-by-step elimination process you say in step 3 that “the wing tip almost reaches the tip of the tail”. First of all I believe that you – and others – are wrong about that. To me the wingtip is hidden behind the branch and hence it’s difficult to say something definite about the length of it. It seems evident though , that it’s much shorter than the tail and therefore doesn’t exclude gabar goshawk – am I the only one who interprets the picture like that?
Secondly , if you are indeed right about the tail and wing being of equal length , I think you make a mistake in saying that this fact doesn’t rule out dark chanting goshawk. As far as I remember , the chanting goshawks have an almost equally prominent tail extending well beyond the wingtips on the perched bird as gabar goshawk.
The lack of white tips to the secondaries , on the other hand , would normally rule out gabar as you say. I’m not sure if this could be explained by wear , or if this bird could be a 2nd cy bird (if there is indeed such a thing as a distinguishable 2nd cy plumage?) , since I’ve seen other pictures of (alleged) immature gabars lacking this character? If an immature gabar should always show the white tipped secondaries , I think you’re right about the bird being a dark chanting goshawk. If not , I still have my doubts….


Alex Sand Frich skriver fredag 13. februar 2009 kl. 13.22
Hello Jon,
I´m sure that you are right...the wingtip is hidden behind the branch...

Jan Ingvaedt Jörgensen skriver fredag 13. februar 2009 kl. 16.06
Wingtip is hidden behind the branch...but just visible at the left of the tail, which might add to the impression of the projection between tailtip and wingpoint visavi Chanting Goshawk


Jon Lehmberg skriver lørdag 14. februar 2009 kl. 17.56
Thanks Alex and Jan , I guess I don’t need to go and have my eyes checked then , though I can’t actually spot the wingtip to the left of the tail – not with certainty anyway. Had the wingtips indeed reached the tip of the tail , this bird would really have been an even greater mystery…

Best wishes

Jan Ingvaedt Jörgensen skriver lørdag 14. februar 2009 kl. 21.20
Now I see that I might have been misstaken Jon. I took the image upp to 400% to get a better view of the two tiny 'pins' just visible left of the bump on the branch to the left of the tail if you see what I mean?
Anyway, the tail is to short for Gabar, as are the jizz I´d say. But stranger things has happend.


Jon Lehmberg skriver søndag 15. februar 2009 kl. 11.39
I absolutely see what you mean Jan , I just can’t tell for sure if anything in that area is the extreme tip of the wing , or if it’s all just a part of the branch. I agree that this is not an archetypical gabar goshawk with regard to tail length and jizz , but the same could be said about dark chanting goshawk really. However , I still think it’s within what can be explained by individual variation , and jizz can be difficult to assess from a single picture , while proportions sometimes differ in young an adult birds. My best guess is therefore still gabar or dark chanting goshawk , but maybe Bo could offer his thoughts after the input he has received , since he’s the only one who has actually seen the bird in real life?


Bo Tureby skriver søndag 15. februar 2009 kl. 14.06
Thank you so much for all your comments regarding this little problem. I have been away for a few days, so: sorry for not replying before now.
The bird was definately not a Banded Snake Eagle - it was too small and much more goshawk-like.
So that leaves us with Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawk.
Considering the size of the bird, I would call it a Gabar. Also I think that the shape and size of the head indicates that it is a smaller bird than the Chanting Goshawk.
I realise that there are some problems concerning the length of the wing compared to the tip of the tail, but perhaps the right wing is not completely folded... so that the tip of the wing seems longer ?

Anyway: I have uploaded two more pictures of the bird, so hopefully we can finally agree on the same species.?
My current bid: 1-2 cy Gabar Goshawk.

Thanks again everybody ! Bo

Jon Lehmberg skriver søndag 15. februar 2009 kl. 20.09
Hi Bo ,

I’m looking forward to seeing the other pictures of this bird.
Sorry to repeat myself , but I still don’t see the wing-tail problem , since the tip of the right wing is not visible (or only just?) beneath the branch , which the tail certainly is! This means – to me anyway – that there is more than adequate tail-extension for it to be one of the to species – and by the way , I think you’re wright about the right wing hanging a bit.


Jon Lehmberg skriver onsdag 18. februar 2009 kl. 10.54
I’ve just seen the two new pictures of this species and I’m still not sure. However , when Bo writes that the size was consistent with gabar rather than dark chanting goshawk (and the size difference is considerable) , that might settle the matter. I can’t find any reason why the bird isn’t a gabar goshawk anyway (except for maybe the lack of white tips to the secondaries , as mentioned by Uffe?) , so maybe that’s what it is….


Jan Ingvaedt Jörgensen skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 00.25
I took the raptor to BF (some South African birders there)- of by whom none have answered, yet.
I got these though, worth considering:

I don't know pretty much anything about identifying African birds of prey, but I did just some Google searching. Firstly, the bird is definitely a juvenile (there was some discussion about the age on Netfugl), as the relevant species lack intermediate subadult plumages.

IMO there are some features that don't fit Gabar Goshawk (based on a very small sample of photos):

1. The tail looks too short to me. The Gabar Goshawks that I've found pictures of on the net show a very long tail, with the Chanting Goshawks having a clearly shorter one. IMO the length of the tail can be assessed without exact knowledge of the position of the wing tips.

2. The lower breast is uniformly brown. The few pictures of juvenile Gabar Goshawks that I found show a completely streaked breast.

3. The white bars on the belly look narrower than on the Gabar Goshawk pictures on the net.

4. The bird lacks white tips to the secondaries.

Here are some photos of juv Gabar Goshawk (more credible ones):

Here's a Dark Chanting Goshawk:
(shorter tail, uniform breast, narrower white streaks on the belly and the secondaries lack clear white tips)

Here's an (at least alleged) Pale Chanting Goshawk for comparison:

(note that I'm not at all sure what the subject bird is, just wanted to point out these inconsistencies when compared to Gabar Goshawk pictures)

Hi all,

You are right, this bird is clearly not a Gabar Goshawk, the jizz is all wrong: too bulky, head too big, breast too dark.
I agree that it's an immature Chanting Goshawk (Melierax sp). The ID of young Chanting Goshawks can be quite difficult in area where range of several species overlap.

I think there now 4 species recognized (have to check though):
-Eastern Chanting Goshawk
-Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
-Northern Pale Chanting Goshawk
-Dark Chanting Goshawk

So Eastern and Northern Pale are ruled out by distribution (pic taken in South Africa). This bird might even be ID'ed on range alone (Kruger N.P). I 'll check in my books tomorrow...

Jon Lehmberg skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 10.57
Hi Jan ,

Good idea to get opinions from elsewhere (do you have a link to that discussion?). I’m not quite sure how to read this , your most recent contribution , though. Does it contain any of your own thoughts , or is it perhaps just submissions from two other birdwatchers (one from “I don’t know pretty much…” to “…Gabar goshawk pictures)” and the other from “Hi all, ….” To “… my books tomorrow”)? Anyway , I’ll try to address some of the points raised here:

To take the last one first , I must say that I disagree completely about id’ing the bird on range alone! Of course , looking at the range is always helpful , but to my mind it’s never more than a good indication , and you should never rule out alternatives based on that alone. Having said that , gabar and dark chanting goshawk are the only two relevant “hawk”-species commonly seen in the Krüger NP.
Regarding species of chanting goshawks , I believe that presently (It seems like “splitting” and “lumping” is going on all the time these days) there are 3 generally accepted species: Dark chanting , pale chanting and eastern chanting – the last two formerly considered as one species.
That the bird is “clearly not a gabar goshawk” is a very confident statement. I agree that the jizz is not typical for gabar goshawk , but on the other hand it’s really not a typical chanting goshawk either. Also , as I’ve said earlier in this discussion , I believe that the jizz-issue can be tricky when looking at photos and in particular when you only have one picture – or as is the case here several almost identical photos.
When it comes to the plumage , I don’t know what to believe. The birds I’ve seen myself have all been adults , and I suspect that on the picture found on the Internet the birds might not all have been identified correctly… - some definitely aren’t! However , I don’t think the tail length rules out gabar , even though it is certainly at the short end of the scale for this species , and I’m not sure if the width of the bars on the underside is a definite character either. The lack of white tips to the secondaries and the uniformly brown lower breast could possibly (?) eliminate gabar , on the other hand Bo , who saw the bird , says that the size is more consistent with gabar than dark chanting goshawk so…!


Ps. Can anyone tell me what the abbreviation IMO , as used above , means?

Jan Ingvaedt Jörgensen skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 11.51
Hi Jon.
These opinions are taken from There are some more suggestions there now, with good links to possible species.

IMO = in my opinion


Jon Friis skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 11.53
IMO = in my opnion ... i think :-)

Jan Ingvaedt Jörgensen skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 15.38

The suggestions from BF does not contain any of my thoughts, I only brought it there because some South African birders makes suggestions there when dealing wit African species, some of the very good.
I also know that these contributions to the Gabar/Chanting on BF are not based on own experience, at least I think so.
I thought anyway that they might trigger someone else to make sugggestions as to what species we might deal with here. A tricky one this!


Johnny Madsen skriver torsdag 19. februar 2009 kl. 16.23
In my opinion the feathers below the branch are all tail feathers, the tail is worn. The angel of the ving and the angel of the feathers below the branch doesn't fit.

Jon Lehmberg skriver fredag 20. februar 2009 kl. 10.53
Hi guys ,

Thank you for explaining the abbreviation IMO!

Jan , I found the discussion on Bf ( , and even though there seems to be some consensus there , that the bird is a (dark) chanting goshawk , it made for some pretty interesting reading – again , good idea! The user “CAU” (on Bf) has made a very fine collection of goshawk-photos which is definitely worth checking out. Even though I can’t help feeling that he has picked the pictures supporting his own theory , he might be on to something. What these – and other – pictures tells me more than anything though , is that there are quite a lot of individual (and regional?) variation , and that jizz and proportions are of almost no use in separating the relevant species on some photos!
Therefore , after checking Bf , I just find myself confused on a higher level regarding this bird. When looking at the plumage , I lean towards one of the chanting goshawks. From this photo alone , the jizz and proportions doesn’t point one way or the other to me , but I think (like Steve G on Bf) that gabar and chanting goshawks should be fairly easy to separate in the field based on just that. That is why I think it is important when Bo (the observer) calls it a gabar!
The one thing I have certainly learned from this discussion is , that the field guides leave a lot to be desired when it comes to identifying juvenile/immature gabar and chanting goshawks. The illustrations vary quite a lot , and some seem to be way of , so there are definitely something to improve here.
I wonder if this bird will ever be identified with any certainty. There seems to be supporters of both gabar and the chanting goshawks , and even if it is indeed a chanting goshawk there is still the question of dark vs. pale!


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