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Red Goshawk
Erythrotriorchis radiatus

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Radiated Goshawk, Red Buzzard, Red Hawk, Red-legged Goshawk, Rufous-bellied Buzzard.

Erythrotriorchis radiatus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian. Northern and eastern AUSTRALIA south to northern New South Wales. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Placed in the genus Accipiter by Stresemann and Amadon (1979) and Amadon and Bull (1988), but now considered to be a part of an older Australasian group (Debus 1994). Forms a superspecies with E. buergersi. Debus (2008) pointed out that the name "Red Goshawk" is a misnomer if this genus is not related to accipiters, and he suggested that the older name, "Red Hawk," would be more appropriate. more....

Movements: Considered to be mostly sedentary by Baker-Gabb and Fitzherbert (1989) and Baker-Gabb and Steele (1999), although some individuals occasionally disperse (Debus 1991, 1993, Debus and Czechura 1988). In winter in eastern Australia, birds descend from nest sites in mountains to the coastal plains during the post-breeding season (Czechura and Hobson 2000).

Habitat and Habits: Debus (1998) characterized this species as a solitary, secretive hawk of coastal and subcoastal forests and woodlands in the tropics and subtropics. In partly cleared country in eastern Queensland, it is associated with gorge and escarpment country (Czechura and Hobson 2000). Typically seen soaring over northern temperate woodlands and tree-lined waterways crossing grasslands and shrublands, or flying through trees (Olsen 1995). It hunts mostly in open forests, rather than low woodlands (Aumann and Baker-Gabb 1991).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on birds, particularly parrots and pigeons, but sometimes takes herons, waterfowl, kookaburras, and megapodes (Debus 1998). It also rarely takes mammals (flying foxes, young hares), snakes, lizards, and large insects. Wintering birds in the coastal plains of eastern Australia are associated with permanent wetlands and often feed on waterbirds (Czechura and Hobson 2000). This species hunts early and late in the day by perch hunting from concealed locations in trees and in the middle of the day by long gliding or flying transects and low quartering through trees or just above the canopy (Debus op cit.). Prey is often seized in flight after a chase, and these birds also stoop on prey from a height.

Breeding: The laying season is from May to October in the north and from August to October in the east (Debus 1998). Pairs nest solitarily. The nest is a platform of sticks lined with green leaves and placed 15-29 m above the ground in an exposed fork of a 20-m+ tall emergent living or partly dead tree within 1 km of a watercourse or wetland (Debus and Czechura 1988, Aumann and Baker-Gabb 1991). The clutch size is one or two eggs (usually two), the incubation period is about 40 days, and the nestling period is 51-53 days (perhaps longer for females) (Debus op cit.). Fledged juveniles are dependent on the adults for at least two or three months.

Conservation: This is one of the rarest raptors in Australia, and it has specialized requirements and a locally restricted range (Debus 1998). Population trends are uncertain because the species is difficult to detect. However, numbers clearly declined historically, and the breeding range contracted as a result of deforestation. There is little evidence of a continuing decline, even in the southeastern portion of its range (Garnett and Crowley 2000). Current threats include habitat loss, illegal egg collecting, and disturbance by birdwatchers and photographers at nests (Debus op cit., Garnett 1992). It was recently downlisted to Near Threatened in Australia (Garnett et al. 2011) and it is categorized as Rare in Western Australia, Vulnerable in the Northern Territory, Endangered in Queensland, and Critically Endangered in New South Wales (Debus 2009). Regrettably, a national recovery plan, which was drafted in 2005, still has not been approved by governmental agencies, so there seem to be few coordinated recovery measures underway. The status of the Red Goshawk was changed from Vulnerable to Near Threatened by BirdLife International in 2012. more....

Population Estimates: A global population estimate of 330 breeding pairs, most of which were in northern Australia, made by Aumann and Baker-Gabb (1991) was revised upward to a breeding population of 1,000 birds following more recent surveys (Czechura and Hobson 2000).

Important References: 
Aumann, T., and D.J. Baker-Gabb. 1991. A management plan for the Red
  Goshawk. Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union Report no. 75.
Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies, and P.N. Reilly. 1984. The atlas of
  Australian birds. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union and Melbourne
  University Press, Melbourne, Australia.
Czechura, G.V., R.G. Hobson,
  and D.A. Stewart.
2009. Observations on the breeding biology of the Red
  Goshawk Erythrotrioorchis radiatus) in Queensland. Australian Field
  Ornithology 26:148-156.
Czechura, G.V., R.G. Hobson, and D.A. Stewart. 2011. Distibution, status
  and habitat of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Queensland.
  Corella 35:3-10.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Red Goshawk. Pp. 163-164 in del Hoyo, J.,
  A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2.
  New World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Debus, S. 1998. The birds of prey of Australia: a field guide. Oxford
  University Press, Melbourne.
Debus, S.J.S., and G.V. Czechura. 1988. The Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis
: a review. Australian Bird Watcher 12:175-199.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Garnett, S.T., and G.M. Crowley. 2000. The Action Plan for Australian
  Birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand,
  and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press,
  Melbourne, Australia.
Olsen, P. 1995. Australian birds of prey. John Hopkins University Press,
  Baltimore, MD.

Debus, Stephen
Morley, Mick
Olsen, Penny

Last modified: 8/20/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2017. Species account: Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 25 Feb. 2017

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