The red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) is one of the rarest birds of prey in northern Australia, Cape York, Queensland, and NSW. Its choice habitat or nesting site is woodlands and open forests where it can perch upon a high tree and nest under its canopy. The bird usually settles down near watercourses and areas where there is an abundance of prey. This large and powerful raptor's diet exclusively consists of a variety of birds, from pigeons and parrots to ducks and herons, but they may also consume small mammals, reptiles like lizards and snakes, and large insects from time to time. The range of this bird was scattered throughout Australia at one point but now its conversation status states that it is Threatened and even Endangered in many parts of the country. Recovery plans are currently in the works to increase the population of this majestic animal.
The red goshawk is a species of bird. The raptor belongs to the family Accipitridae.
These wild birds belong to the Aves class of animals.
Red goshawks are some of the most vulnerable and rarest birds of prey from Australia. As per the IUCN, their population consists only of 1,400 mature individuals. The 2012 recovery plan had surmised that there are a total of 700 breeding pairs in Australia but evidence today proves that their population is further shrinking.
Red goshawks are Australian birds of prey that predominantly inhabit northern Australia but are found scattered through a few sites in eastern and western Australia as well. They occur in Kimberley of Western Australia and from there, their distribution extends to Cape York and the north and southeastern part of Queensland. The birds could be spotted in the woodlands of New South Wales or NSW as well but there has been a steady decline of the species in the area.
The red goshawk habitat is primarily woodlands and open forests. It can also be rather patchy or scattered because this forest-dwelling bird can be seen inhabiting sub-coastal forest and swamp forest as well. They especially have a preference for sites where one kind of forest ends to meet another. When they are looking to settle down they check to see if the habitat has a constant supply of food or water so you are likely to find them near watercourses and where plenty of smaller birds nest.
The red goshawk is a solitary creature. It may be due to the thin distribution, but the bird is usually observed alone. It can be seen in groups or pairs only during the breeding season.
The longevity of the red goshawk is unknown.
The process of courting and breeding begins as early as May for the birds. The birds are monogamous and use the same nesting sites to breed every year. Nesting is completed at least two months prior to the laying of eggs. The clutch size is only one or two eggs and the female is responsible for the incubation of the eggs while the male plays the role of a food gatherer. The birds are extremely defensive about their nests and chicks and the female continues to guard them constantly for the next 10-15 days.
The conservation status of the red goshawk is evaluated as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with a further decreasing population.
The upper part of the body is rufous and spotted in black while the underside is mostly covered in reddish-brown or rufous plumage. The feathers and tail of the bird are slate-gray above and lighter gray below. The head is pale with dark bands. The neck, back, and inner wing are dark brown with reddish-brown markings. The chin, throat, and upper breast are whitish in color with black barring. As is common with raptors, the bill is hooked and black with a gray cere. Eyes are pale yellow or brown, legs and feet are massive and yellow.
The Australian red goshawk is more royal or regal in its appearance than cute, just like a hawk.
Red goshawks communicate during breeding season with sharp calls. The flight call of the goshawk is a loud screeching wail that is prominent even from a distance.
The goshawk is a large bird that grows up to a length of 17.7-23.6 in (45-60 cm). Its wingspan is 39-53 in (99-134.6 cm) on average. The red goshawk is bigger when compared to other raptors like Cooper's hawk or White-tailed hawk.
The hunting bird can be seen gliding along smoothly in the sky before stooping to catch its prey. Its flight technique comprises long glides, fluid wing beats, and flapping movements.
The males of the species weigh around 21 oz (595.3 g) while the females are heavier and larger and weigh 35-49 oz (992.23-1389.13 g). It is bulkier than a common night hawk.
Male and female of the species are called cock and hen respectively.
Young goshawks are called chicks.
The red goshawk diet predominantly consists of birds. Born with massive feet, sharp talons, and a hooked beak ideal for hunting, the goshawk feeds on a variety of birds namely pigeons and parrots. They may also be found feasting on small mammals, reptiles, and large insects. Its preferred time to go hunting or foraging is early morning or late afternoon.
The Australian bird has a fierce reputation and can be quite harmful to humans too. They are known to be aggressive defenders of their nests and chicks and will not hesitate to attack a human if they feel threatened. And any other animal who dares to ambush their nest eventually winds up becoming the prey.
Red goshawks do not make good pets. This Australian bird of prey is dangerous and can cause harm to its owners with its sharp beak and talons. It is vicious by nature and extremely hard to train. They are birds of the wild and the forest is where they truly belong. It is only feasible for falconers to adopt them.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
The red goshawk is now registered as Vulnerable under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 EPBC and Endangered in Queensland, Cape York, and NSW.
They are skilled hunters and can spend over 30 minutes gliding above the forest in search of prey.
The species is often confused with the Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) due to its rufous plumage.
The red goshawk species is now an extremely rare and vulnerable species. It is Vulnerable in western Australia and the northern territory whereas it has already been declared Endangered in Queensland and NSW. The main reason why the red goshawk range and population are gradually diminishing is deforestation. Their habitat is being demolished and cleared out to pave the way for either agriculture or urbanization. Many nesting sites in Queensland and NSW have been ruined by altered fire regimes so the birds have been left with no option but to vacate. Threats like illegal egg collecting and the shooting of birds are also quite common in parts of Australia. Recovery of their habitat is of immediate importance for the conservation of this species.
Derived from the old English word 'goose hawk', the goshawk owes its name to its size and plumage. Their deft skill when it comes to preying may also have something to do with their name since goshawks were called 'cook's hawk' once upon a time, for their ability to snare meat.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our martial eagle facts and gang-gang cockatoo facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable red goshawk coloring pages.
Second image by Summerdrought.