Occurs from southern Kenya and Tanzania to southern DRC, Angola, Zambia and southern Africa. Within southern it is locally common in north-eastern Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers woodland with sparse undergrowth, especially miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, usually with a river or stream nearby. There have been some sightings in the Eastern Cape, but they are seldom seen and there are no signs of breeding activities.
It mainly feeds on invertebrates, supplemented with birds, small mammals and reptiles.
It usually nests in tree hollows, which can be up to about 6 metres above ground. It sometimes visit the nest by day, carrying feathers and leaves, which are presumed to be lining for the nest.
It lays 2-3 eggs in the period from August-October.
Incubation is presumed to be done solely by the female for 28-34 days. It can be extremely stubborn about not leaving the nest, so much so that one can stroke and touch it without protest.
The chicks are brooded for 14 days by the female, after which both sexes hunt. The chicks are sometimes fed as many as 40 meals in six hours by both parents. The brood leave the nest after 32-33 days, after which they live in the vicinity of the nest. At about 42 days old, they learn to fly and become fully independent.
Locally threatened in the Eastern Cape, where the subspecies G. c. capense occurs. This subspecies used to occur in KwaZulu-Natal, but since retreated to isolated areas in the Eastern cape.
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