A formidable hunter, the black goshawk mainly feeds on birds, and is capable of tackling prey as large as guineafowl. This species’ main hunting technique is to perch on a tree, concealed amongst the foliage, from which it makes a rapid dash to intercept its unsuspecting prey. While this method usually brings immediate success, on occasion, it results in a prolonged, high-speed chase across forest, grassland and savanna. The black goshawk has adapted well to the expansion of urban development, exploiting the abundance of pigeons and doves found in town and cities (4).
The black goshawk’s breeding season varies according to location, with populations in West Africa breeding from August to November, while those in Central and southern Africa mainly breed from May to October (4). Breeding pairs are territorial, constructing their nests high up in tall forest trees, usually at least half a kilometre from other pairs (4) (6). A clutch of two to four eggs is laid and incubated for around 34 to 38 days before hatching. The young take a further 37 to 47 days to fledge, during which time the adult brings food, sometimes carrying it from as far as 12 kilometres away (4). During brooding the black goshawk employs an ingenious form of pest control. It lines the nest with strong-smelling eucalyptus leaves, which repel invertebrate pests and parasites, such as blood-sucking mites, that may harm the young (7). After the young have left the nest, the black goshawk pair may breed again, thereby producing multiple broods in a single year, a behaviour which is rare in birds of prey (8). The black goshawk generally remains resident at a single location for most of the year and nesting sites are frequently re-used. Nevertheless, this species rapidly colonises new plantations, and may occasionally undertake long excursions over sea, lake or desert (4)