Red goshawk

The rarest and powerful bird of prey with massive yellow feet and talons designed to quickly subdue its avian prey

JJ Harrison
JJ Harrison

Red goshawk is a striking bird of prey and one of the rarer raptors found in Australia. Characterized by its robust size and distinctive rufous-brown plumage, the Red Goshawk is an apex predator within its ecosystem, playing a crucial role in controlling populations of smaller animals.

The adult red goshawk is easily identifiable by its pale head, which contrasts with the dark streaks across its facial features. Its back, hindneck, and inner wing coverts exhibit a blackish-brown coloration adorned with rufous, scallop-like markings that provide camouflage among the wooded habitats it frequents.

Preferring a mix of tropical and warm-temperate woodlands and forests, the red goshawk is particularly selective about its environment. It thrives in areas with a rich mosaic of vegetation types and often positions itself near wetlands, providing ample hunting opportunities. The bird’s habitat choice is strategic, avoiding areas that are too densely vegetated or excessively open, which would impede its hunting prowess.

Dietarily, the red goshawk is predominantly avian, specializing in hunting other birds. However, its diverse diet, including lizards, snakes, bats, and insects, highlights its adaptability and skill as a hunter. Their hunting technique is a testament to their agility and speed, often catching their prey unaware with a swift, silent approach.

Nesting habits of the red goshawk involve constructing large, durable nests high in the canopy of a robust tree, frequently situated along a ridgeline where visibility is optimal. Proximity to permanent water sources is a common feature of nesting sites, ensuring ready access to a critical resource for both the adults and their offspring.

Despite its prowess, the red goshawk is not immune to the pressures of environmental change. Significant population declines have been observed, largely due to habitat destruction. Deforestation, altered fire regimes, and land conversion to agriculture are some of the most pressing threats to their survival.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Australia
1,400
Official estimate
EN
2021

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No