Crested Goshawk: The Ultimate Guide

Asia is a hub of rich wildlife, including tigers, elephants, pandas and rhinoceros. However, one thing that you might not have considered is the birdlife that they have there.

There are plenty of beautiful and daring-looking birds, one of the rarest being the crested goshawk.

This animal can be found in a wide range, across Southern Asia, including Sri Lanka to Southern China, Indonesia and areas of the Philippines. It has an amazing hunting range, making it one of the best birds to have around to get rid of pests.

This bird has a very distinctive breast coloring, with a lined pattern that is brown against a white background. This makes it great for blending into its background.

This bird has a very distinctive gliding pattern that is unique to this species.

But where can you find the crested goshawk? What are its mating habits? Does it migrate during the winter season? What are its main sources of food? Where do they nest?

What time of year do they reproduce? What sounds do they make? What do the juvenile crested goshawks look like?

Well, if you have a burning hunger for this information and a whole lot more, then we would suggest that you keep reading.

This bird is simply amazing, and once you have read this article, then you’ll have everything that you need to wow your family and friends at the next dinner party with your knowledge about birds. 


This bird is a raptor, meaning that it is slightly different from birds such as harriers and kites. It has shorter wings that are very broad, which enables them to navigate through the trees.

They are around 30 – 46 cm in length, with the females being typically bigger than the males.

This adult has a grey head, a brown body with brownish wings and a white underbelly that is streaked with brown bars. On the throat it has more orange bars. All the bars on this creature’s body help it to blend in with the dense foliage.

This bird is generally slightly stubbier than a lot of other breeds of raptor. It also has a much shorter tail, which is uses to help with balance and during flight, especially when hunting.

The juveniles have a much shorter head with lighter brown underparts.

Male Vs Female

The crown of the male’s head will usually have a darker grey color. The sides of the head are much darker than the front, with darker stripes on the mustache and throat areas.

They have rufous streaks on the breast and belly.

The female has a larger head which is much less grey in color, being browner with dark brown streaks on her underparts. The young female will have a paler head with an underpart that is more of a buff than white color.

Are They Aggressive?

These animals are generally not aggressive to humans and will not attack anyone unprompted. The only time you might see this animal get a bit defensive is if they feel like their chicks are being threatened.

There have been many stories told by farmers of these birds attacking their farmland, but most of these are exaggerated and used to justify poaching these birds. This bird will not really attempt to attack an animal that is larger than its body size.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

The crested goshawk has developed broad wings that will help it to navigate through the dense trees. It also has razor-sharp claws that it can use to separate the flesh of its prey from the bone.

It tends to use its claws to break the spine or neck of the rodents and small mammals that it hunts.

This creature has also developed a hooked beak that will make killing its prey much swiftly and more efficient. The claws are very sharp to help it carry food without dropping back to the nest.

It has brown streaks on its underbelly which help it blend in with the forest background.

Breeding/reproduction Behaviour

This bird will usually start breeding in the rainy or summer seasons, usually starting the mating procedure in April, breeding through June and July and then giving birth roughly during August.

This bird will only lay around 2 – 3 eggs, which will take around 34 days to be incubated by the female. They will then hatch, develop over the course of 3 months, at which point they will be ready to leave the nest.

These birds breed monogamously, with the male often helping with the building of the nest as well as feeding the chicks. The baby crested goshawk will often be fed at least once a day.

Their Calls/Sounds

This bird will often let out a long and shrill yelp, especially during the breeding season. The female will emit a ‘kri-ya’ call when it wants to try and lure in a mate.

It will also let out a more high pitched and rapid cry if it feels like its nest is under threat.

The chicks of the crested goshawk will let out small yelping cries during the first few months of being alive, as this will be one way of indicating to their parents that they want food.

What Do They Eat? (Diet)

This animal likes to eat other small birds, rodents that are found in the forest, as well as lizards that are often found in knots in the trees. This bird uses the hide and surprise method, often swooping down from its perch and silently spearing its prey with its talons.

Where Do They Live? (Habitat)

Female Crested Goshawk

This animal can be found in the forests and along the riverbanks of areas in South Asia. It has been observed hunting and nesting in the Philippines, Indonesia and areas of China.

It likes warm and subtropical areas.

However, there has been recent evidence to suggest that this animal is becoming more acclimatized to urban areas, often found on the outskirts of cities hunting for prey.

What Are Their Nesting Habits?

This bird will often construct a large nest out of sticks. Both the male and the female will help to build the nest. These creatures nest high up in the trees near a hunting perch.

This gives them a better vantage point over prey and keeps their eggs away from predators.

How long Do They Live? (Lifespan)

In the wild, a goshawk is capable of living up to around 11 years. However, in captivity this creature has been known to live up to nearly 30 years old.

What Predators Do They Have?

These birds are considered to be apex predators, so this means that no other animal will mess with them. This bird’s biggest predator are probably human beings, which often encroach on their territory, destroying food sources and habitat.

There have been some reports of these birds flying too close to the ground and getting attacked by urban dogs. However, this is very rare and only really occurs on the outskirts of a town.

What Are Their Feathers Like?

This bird has downy feathers on its belly that is streaked and barred with brown stripes. These help them blend in with the environment.

The feathers on the wings are shorter than other breeds of raptor. It also has much shorter tail feathers.

What Does Their Poop Look Like?

This animal has long and stringy white poop that you can often see dried on the branches of the trees in which they are nesting. This poop has been described as having a very pungent odor that resembles vinegar.

This is because of the high concentration of ammonia in their diet.

Do They Migrate?

These birds are not migratory and they largely stay in the lowlands where they were born for their whole lives. This often leads to dense concentrations of birds throughout the area.

This is also because the climate of this bird is tropical all the year-round, so it has no need to find somewhere warm for the winter.

Conservation Status

This animal thrives in the areas that it lives and has been listed as a species of ‘least concern’ by the world conservation authority.

This means that the population is decreasing but not to such an extent as to cause much concern.

The main threat to this creature’s habitat is human beings, which can demolish large areas of their habitat for housing.

Fun Facts

In the UK, goshawks were exterminated by poachers in the 1800s. However, there have been considerable efforts to reintroduce them back into the wild.

Goshawks were used as falconry birds mainly due to their speed, their wingspan and their intelligence when it comes to finding prey.

This species is known to be one of the most promiscuous, copulating around 600 times per egg clutch.