The Fiji goshawk (Accipiter rufitorques) is a bird of prey species in the Accipitridae family that is endemic to Fiji.
These adorable birds of prey are most notably known for their piercing amber eyes, unique gray and peach coloring, and distinctive call. Although these birds have a conservation status of Least Concern, there is limited research about this unique species.
Here is the ultimate guide to the Fiji Goshawk!
The Fiji goshawk is a medium-sized bird of prey, sizing between 11-15” (30-40 cm) in height.
These birds exhibit the distinctive features of a standard hawk – the slim build, bright amber eyes (with a permanent focussed expression), and the classic small yet sharp hooked beak. The beak itself is predominantly light gray, and then fades to a dark gray towards the tip.
The plumage of the Fiji goshawk is what makes this bird most noticeable amongst the trees. These birds are predominantly a light, soft gray color. Their head, back, wings, and tail all exhibit this soft gray color.
Their underside and collar, however, are a slightly dusty pink shade, making them one of the prettiest birds of prey.
In flight, these birds exhibit rounded wings with a wingspan of 22-28”, and a long straight tail.
As juveniles, the Fiji goshawk are brown all over with a streaked breast, until the feathers begin to fade to the gray and grayish-pink colors of the adult plumage.
Male vs Female
The Fiji goshawk exhibits sexual dimorphism in the same way that most birds of prey do, which means that there aren’t many physical distinctions between the males and females.
The main difference between the sexes is that the females are generally larger than the males. In some cases, the females weigh double the weight of the males – with the males weighing 190-209 g and females weighing up to and over 218 g!
Are They Aggressive?
Fiji goshawks aren’t recorded to be aggressive towards humans, as they tend to avoid human settlements unless they are on the hunt for livestock.
For animals, particularly their chosen prey, the Fiji goshawk will exhibit the aggressive behavior you would expect from a bird of prey. If they see food they want, nothing will stop them from digging their talons and beaks into the prey.
Interestingly, Fiji goshawks are mostly sedentary birds that are usually seen alone or in pairs – but this doesn’t mean that they are aggressive to other birds of the same or similar species.
What Adaptations Do They Have?
The key adaptations of the Fiji goshawk is their impeccable eyesight, their sharp talons, and hooked beak. Their eyesight means that they can successfully spot prey from at least 1 km in the air before they swoop down at impressive speed.
Once they reach their prey, their sharp talons won’t allow the prey to run away, before they begin to tear the animal apart with their talons and pointed beak.
Breeding / Reproduction Behavior
It is unclear whether the Fiji goshawk is strictly monogamous or not, which can be a gray area for some birds of prey. As they are fairly solitary birds, we can assume that they might often mate with more than one individual each season.
The breeding season is between July and December for the Fiji goshawk, with most eggs being laid between July-August and November-December.
There will often be a peak between September-October, too, and nesting as late as February-May is mostly due to avoiding the destructive cyclones.
As for the courting and mating rituals, little is known about any dances or movements the males and females make.
Like most bird of prey species, the Fiji goshawk male will fly above the female in some sort of aerial performance, making their distinctive calls, until the female allows for mating to ensue.
The female Fiji goshawk will nest on her own in nests made of sticks and leaves some 400 meters from other birds of the same species.
She will then lay between 2-4 eggs, wherein two of the chicks are most commonly fledged. Little is known about the incubation period.
Their Calls / Sounds
The Fiji goshawk is most noisy in the evening and when they are near their young or communicating with their mate.
There are a few distinctive sounds they make, including a high-pitched “shee-shee-shee” noise and a loud “ki…ki…ki” sound. They will also repeat a “weit-weit-weit” noise at an impressive speed.
What Do They Eat? (Diet)
There’s almost nothing that a Fiji goshawk won’t eat. These birds of prey will eat just about anything – from small birds like pigeons to insects, rodents to reptiles, and even freshwater fish.
The reason the Fiji goshawk will eat anything is because of their impeccable hunting skills. These birds will perch on the branches of trees and, as they have incredible eyesight, will be able to spot even the smallest of insects from a great height.
Then, they will swoop down at a fast speed. Sometimes, they will hover over their prey mid-flight before swooping down.
Fiji goshawks are also known to eat chickens from livestock farms, which unfortunately has led them to being shot by angry farmers.
Where Do They Live? (Habitat)
As their name suggests, the Fiji goshawk is endemic to Fiji. This bird of prey predominantly lives on the large islands of Gau, Taveuni, Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Kadavu, and Ovalau.
Their favorite places to live on these islands are woodland areas and rainforests, but due to the large population of the birds they can also be found in parks and coconut plantations.
What Are Their Nesting Habits?
The Fiji goshawk will either make their own nests or work in pairs or small groups to make a nest, some 6-16 meters above the ground.
In some instances, these birds of prey have built nests 25 meters from the ground! This is mostly to prevent reptiles like snakes from eating their eggs.
It is common for the Fiji goshawk to build their nests around 400 meters between another Fiji goshawk. These nests are made up of twigs and sticks, and then lined with leaves.
They mostly build the nests in tall trees with light foliage so they can watch their prey and any potential predators.
How Long Do They Live? (Lifespan)
There is currently no evidence that indicates the lifespan of the Fiji goshawk, but we can assume that it is most likely between 12-15 years for a Fiji goshawk in the wild.
What Predators Do They Have?
When it comes to animals, the Fiji goshawk doesn’t really have any predators. These birds are excellent hunters, which means they are far more likely to kill predators of similar sizes.
If a larger bird of prey wants to eat the Fiji goshawk, however, then they could be a successful predator.
For juveniles and eggs, the main predators are egg-eating reptiles like snakes and lizards that could climb into the nests to eat the eggs.
The biggest predator to the Fiji goshawk, as with most animals, are humans. Fiji goshawks like to hunt chickens in farmland, which is the reason why so many farmers shoot the birds of prey.
What Are Their Feathers Like?
The feathers of a Fiji goshawk are predominantly light gray across their entire body, except for the light pinkish-gray coloring on their underparts and collar. The feathers are all similar in length, except for the tail feathers that are far longer.
What Does Their Poop Look Like?
The poop of a Fiji goshawk is most likely to be brown or black in color with a liquid-like consistency due to the uric acid.
Do They Migrate?
The Fiji goshawk is a non-migratory bird. It’s not common for a bird like this to fly too far from their nests unless they need to escape the area due to a cyclone or deforestation. In most cases, they will only fly away for a short period of time to look for food.
The Fiji goshawk has a conservation status of Least Concern. Their range has recently decreased due to the increase of farmers shooting the birds for killing their chickens, but the numbers are so high anyway that this hasn’t made much of a dent in the population.
This is mostly because the islands haven’t been affected by deforestation (yet), so their home habitats of rainforests and coconut plantations keep their numbers high.
Fossils of this species have been found on Tonga’s island, ‘Eua, which had led scientists to believe that perhaps the Fiji goshawk isn’t just endemic to Fiji.
When they fly, the wings of a Fiji goshawk are usually curved upwards and with an arched tail.
The Fiji goshawk isn’t threatened by the presence of humans, which is why they are often found in urban areas like city parks.
Fijians have nicknamed the Fiji goshawk several names depending on the region – such as Latui, Reba, and Tuitui.
The Fiji goshawk was once considered the same species (or at least a subspecies of) as the Australian and New Caledonian brown goshawk.