Brown Goshawk: The Ultimate Guide

The brown goshawk is a bird that is native to Australia and the surrounding islands such as Fiji, New Caledonia and New Guinea. This is found in the dense forest of eucalyptus trees, as well as the farmland and other urban areas.

This bird is large and brown, hence its namesake. The male and the female versions are slightly different in terms of size, with the females being slightly larger than the males.

This is common with these types of birds, as the females do a lot of hunting and raising the chicks.

These creatures are incredibly good hunters, usually swooping down to attack their prey.

They’ll pretty much attack anything in sight, whether it is squirrels, wood pigeons, rats, rabbits and other types of rodents. It will also eat insects, reptiles and any amphibians it can find in the immediate vicinity.

But where can you find this amazing brown goshawk? How different are the males from the females? Are these animals aggressive to humans? What do they eat? What predators try and attack them? What color feathers do they have? Where do they build their nests and how large are they?

Well, if you want to know all this information on the brown goshawk and a lot more, then we would suggest that you keep on reading.

This animal is a killing machine and you’ll soon find out how it captures and kills its prey. You’ll also find out the tender side of this creature as we discuss its nesting habits and how it mates for life.


The upper parts of this bird’s chest are white and grey, with fluffy and barred underparts that are very vivid. This animal has a very striking appearance, with a nimble body that it can use to duck through the foliage and glide as it hunts for prey.

It has a very large wingspan in comparison to its moderately-sized body. This creature has no problems negotiating its way through the trees, although it can often be found perching on bare branches scanning the ground for prey.

Male Vs Female

As with a lot of these species, the female is slightly larger than the male. This is because she has to be more durable, hunting for animals and providing food for the chicks. The male will often pitch in, but its role is not as prominent.

Are They Aggressive?

These animals are not generally aggressive and there are no recorded cases of this animal attacking humans in the wild. However, if it feels like its eggs are being threatened, this animal will certainly attack people.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

This bird of prey, like most others of its genus, has a hooked beak that will be used to shred through the tough carcass of animals such as rabbit, squirrel and toad. This is one of its most indefensible weapons for separating meat from the bone.

These birds have very large talons that they have developed to hook into the prey, which is very helpful when they are carrying them across long distances.

This bird will often perch on the highest branch and survey the entirety of the area, diving as soon as it is ready to strike an animal.

Breeding/reproduction Behaviour

It will usually nest in trees that are very high above the ground, so as to avoid predators from attacking their clutch. They will often lay a clutch of eggs that number 3 – 4, with an incubation period of around 30 days and the chicks hatching after 31 days.

The nests are made from a platform of twigs and leaves, which is often very high and deep, allowing both of the parents and their fully grown chicks to be raised inside. It will also have to accommodate the prey, which itself can be very large.

Their Calls/Sounds

The adult goshawks will make a ki-ki-ki sound when they are directly under threat from other birds. This call might be sometimes replaced with a much more drawn-out call. If the female is defending her nest from attack, she will often let out a prolonged screech.

What Do They Eat (Diet)

This goshawk eats plenty of animals, from small rodents to squirrels to smaller forest birds like ducks, cockatoos and pigeons. They will also help themselves to pipits, wrens and finches.

But the feeding doesn’t stop there: this animal is also partial to some lizards, amphibians and other reptiles. This is a great source of food, as these creatures are often in abundance.

Where Do They Live (Habitat)

Brown Goshawk

This animal is very common across Australia, as well as islands such as Fiji, New Caledonia, New Guinea and Wallacea. It will often be found in forests, farms and on the outskirts of various urban areas.

In the Pacific, the brown goshawk can be found in rainforest areas. There have also been fossilized remains of this bird found in areas like Norfolk Island, although they are not found here in contemporary times.

What Are Their Nesting Habits

A goshawk builds its nest near the trunk of a tree so that it will not be greatly disturbed by weather forces. The female will often stay in the nest to guard the chicks, while the male will be off hunting for food.

The incubation period for the eggs in this nest is around 30 days, with the chicks hatching after just 31 days. The goshawk will often use the same nest for consecutive periods, this is called nest or site fidelity.

How long Do They Live (Lifespan)

This goshawk will live roughly 30 years in the wild, although in captivity this goshawk has been shown to live for much longer. Some birds kept in sanctuaries have been shown to live upwards of 45 years old.

What Predators Do They Have

These animals do not have any natural predators, although it has been shown that if larger birds like crows and rooks discover there is a goshawk in the area, then they will often mob the larger bird in their nest.

Smaller birds, however, tend to scatter if they find there is a goshawk in the area.

What Are Their Feathers Like

Following its namesake, this goshawk has brown feathers, which are downy across its body. The feathers of a goshawk are mottled, with dark brown veins running through them in a shelf-like order.

The juvenile goshawks have much lighter and greyer feathers, which grow darker as soon as they reach maturity. The feathers grow more mottled as the chick gets older.

What Does Their Poop Look Like

The poop of this bird will often be long and white, almost the same color as spit. It can often be found hanging from the branches of the trees that it has nested in. This poop has a very pungent odor to anyone who happens to go near it.

Do They Migrate

All goshawk around the world are highly migratory with the exception of the British Goshawk, which is largely sedentary. Goshawks will flee the nest in response to food shortages, moving to somewhere where they can find more dinner.

During the winter seasons, these animals do reduce their activity, as they do not like moving about much in the colder climate. Food will also be more scarce during this time, so they’ll need to conserve their energy for when the time is right.

Conservation Status

This bird does not have high conservation status, listed as having ‘least concern’ for various wildlife organizations.

The main threat to this bird’s habitat is human encroachment onto its environment, with a high level of deforestation happening in certain areas in Australia.

Another main cause of death for these animals is cars and trucks. Often these birds will either be feasting at the side of the road or they’ll be swooping in front of the cars. This is why you’ll often see one or two dead goshawks lying on the side of the road.

Fun Facts

The brown goshawk is considered to be one of the largest of the genus, with a large wingspan.

The goshawk is capable of hunting birds on the land as well as in the hair. It can reach top speeds of 75mph (120kph) when hunting through the air.

A baby goshawk is also known as a chick.

It is often very difficult to keep a goshawk in captivity, although there are some at specialist sanctuaries. This is because they have a very specific diet that must be followed.

The word goshawk is derived from an old English word meaning ‘goose-hawk’.

The goshawk is mistaken for similar-sized birds such as the collared sparrowhawk, although the goshawk is actually a lot bigger than the latter bird.