Polyboroides typus A. Smith, 1829 — Overview

African Harrier-hawk learn more about names for this taxon

IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Brief Summary

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Biology

The diet of the African harrier-hawk is quite varied, and includes small mammals such as rodents and bats, as well as birds, eggs and nestlings, lizards, amphibians and insects. It may also occasionally take stranded fish or carrion, and in West Africa often feeds on oil-palm fruits (2) (3). While some hunting takes place from low flight over vegetation or by watching for prey from a perch, the African harrier-hawk is notable for its habit of actively searching for prey in trees, nests, rock faces, and from underneath objects on the ground. It can often be seen clambering about and hanging from tree limbs, running up tree trunks with wings flapping, or hanging from foliage or birds' nests as it searches for food (2) (3) (5). A unique feature of harrier-hawks is the remarkable flexibility of their legs and feet, and the long yellow legs and small feet of the African harrier-hawk are able to bend both forwards and backwards through large angles, enabling the bird to reach into nests, holes and crevices to extract otherwise inaccessible prey (2) (3) (8). The breeding season of the African harrier-hawk varies with location (2) (3). During courtship, the male performs a slow, circling display flight, and, upon being joined by the female, the pair may come together, with the female rolling over and the pair sometimes briefly touching claws in mid-air (3). The nest is usually relatively large and built with sticks, in a tree or on a cliff ledge, and lined with sprays of green leaves. One to three eggs are laid, and hatch after an incubation period of about 35 days. Older chicks often kill younger siblings soon after hatching, with usually only one, or sometimes two, chicks raised, which fledge after 45 to 55 days (2) (3).

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Source: ARKive

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