Red Goshawk: The Ultimate Guide

Appearance

The Red Goshawk is a large Hawk that is usually a reddish-brown color in appearance, hence the bird’s name! It has very long, broad wings that extend past the body and feature winged tips that resemble fingers, while the legs of the Red Goshawk typically tend to be strong, short, and yellow.

As for the upper parts of the body, the feathers tend to be mainly grayish-brown in appearance, while the underparts of the body are usually far darker and sometimes even black, while the head tends to be paler with occasional black bars. 

Male Vs Female

While there aren’t too many differences between male and female Red Goshawks, there are a few physical characteristics that set them apart.

Generally speaking, the female tends to be a little larger than the male, which is something that is common to Hawks in general. In addition to that, it should also be noted that females tend to be far paler than males, and often have a white underbody that makes it easy for them to distinguish. 

Adaptations

The Red Goshawk has plenty of adaptations that have allowed it to survive in the wild. For starters, the Red Goshawk is one of the largest bird of prey species in the world, which gives it a natural advantage when it comes to hunting, as well as a lower chance of being threatened by other species of hawk or eagle.

In addition to this, the Red Goshawk has excellent eyesight that allows it to spot prey from up to 1000ft away, while its large talons allow it to latch onto its prey with ease.

The Red Goshawk also has very large, broad wings that allow it to soar the sky with ease, while also being able to swoop and dive with speed and agility once the prey has been spotted.

Are They Aggressive?

You don’t have to be a bird expert to understand that the Red Goshawk is one of the most powerful and fierce birds of prey in the world! From its piercing stare to its strong beak, strong yellow legs to its dominating presence – the Red Goshawk is a bird of prey that makes for a threatening predator.

Highly territorial, the Red Goshawk is known for being highly territorial and will stand up to predators (regardless of how large) if it feels it is being threatened. Alongside this, the Red Goshawk is also an extremely agile bird with piercing eyes and exceptional flight ability.

A born hunter, the Red Goshawk is a sophisticated and calculated hunter, and will often use its strong talons to snatch up prey. 

Breeding/Reproduction Behaviors

During the breeding season, males and females will form partnerships with each other and will circle high above the nest while mating. After this phase has been completed, the pair will then begin preparing the nest, which will usually be situated between a visible fork of a tall tree.

The nest itself is usually lined with green leaves taken from surrounding trees to help ensure that the nest is obscured from plain sight, and usually tends to be at least 60cm (23inches) in length in order to safely incubate the eggs.

The egg-laying season usually falls between May to October in the northern hemisphere, and August to October in the east, and lasts for around 40 days.

Once incubation has begun, the female will usually take full responsibility for the nest and eggs, while the male will keep guard and hunt for food. 

Their Calls / Sounds

Typically, adult Red Goshawks will usually only vocalize when they are feeling threatened or territorial and will give off a quick “ki-ki-ki ” noise that is usually repeated at least 10 times.

Alongside this rapid response to threats or while hunting, the Red Goshawk might also occasionally let out a long “Kree-yaa” call, although this is usually far less frequent.

In female Red Goshawk, when they feel threatened they have been known to let out a constant screech in order to alert her male counterpart, and when the male brings food back to the nest, the female is also known to let out a short wail in response to his arrival. 

What Do They Eat? (Diet)

As a bird of prey, the Red Goshawk will usually eat a diet that consists of other birds (including wood pigeons and smaller raptors) as well as squirrels, rabbits, hares, mice as well as smaller rodents.

Due to the size of the Red Goshawk and its natural hunting ability, the Red Goshawk does not typically eat insects, plants, or grubs. Instead, if any food shortages do occur, this bird of prey will typically opt to migrate to a different location where they can hunt for meat as usual.

It should also be noted that Red Goshawk chicks are dependent on their parents for at least two months after hatching, which means that by nature, the Red Goshawk needs to be adept at hunting so that their young do not starve.

Additionally, during the pledging process, the parent Red Goshawks will spend time teaching their offspring how to eat their food, with the mother usually taking care of this while the male hunts and gathers.

Where Do They Live? (Habitat)

Considered to be the rarest of all Australian birds of prey, the Red Goshawk is mainly found in the savanna woodlands that are located in the north of Australia.

Due to this, the Red Goshawk shows a preference for habitats that are near bodies of water, including marshes and rivers, and tends to nest in dense forest areas where they can stay secluded and out of sight from potential threats, such as humans. 

What Are Their Nesting Habits?

More often than not, the Red Goshawk tends to show a preference for nesting in areas of dense or open woodland that allows them to be able to hunt and forage directly under the canopy.

While not a lot is known about the nesting habits of the Red Goshawk, the nest is usually built in forks of high trees and is often made of the leaves and sticks of the surrounding trees. In addition to this, the nesting sites are also frequently seen near large bodies of water, including rivers, streams, and more. 

What Are Their Feathers Like?

In adults, regardless of sex, the Red Goshawk tends to have a grayish-brown color pattern that extends across the entirety of the body.

Alongside that, in adults, there also tends to be spots of golden yellow interspersed throughout the body and back, which gives the Red Goshawk a vibrant and eye-catching appearance.

As for the flight feathers, the underside of the wings often tends to be mainly white, although there may also be occasional black barring with a dark brown/black wingtip. The feathers on the face are often lighter than the rest of the body, and a single black bar is often seen running parallel across the face. 

What Is Their Poop Like?

The poop of the Red Goshawk is typical to birds in general and tends to be runny in texture and covered in white excrement due to the fact that birds cannot urinate.

Do They Migrate?

While the Red Goshawk is not considered to be a migratory species of bird, it may opt to migrate to warmer climates during the winter months when the temperatures tend to plummet in Australia.

Typically, if the Red Goshawk decides to migrate, it will usually frequent other areas of Australia, particularly the south. 

What Is Their Life Expectancy? (Lifespan)

While individual lifespans can no doubt vary from bird to bird, the average lifespan for the Red Goshawk typically ranges from 5-7 years in the wild, with adult Red Goshawks having around an 83% chance of survival from year to year.

What Predators Do They Have?

As one of the largest birds of prey in the world, the Red Goshawk is a mighty and ferocious bird that does not have many predators to watch out for.

Most commonly, the biggest threat towards the population of the Red Goshawk is changing habitats due to deforestation, as well as humans that partake in illegal hunting of these birds.

Conservation Status 

At the time of writing this, the Red Goshawk currently has a conservation status classification “Near Threatened” which means that the population of the Red Goshawk is currently declining, and nearing endangerment.

The main reasons for this can be attributed to changes in habitat, a rise in deforestation over the past few decades, as well as illegal human hunting.

Fun facts

  • The Red Goshawk is one of the largest hawks in the world and is nearly the size of a buzzard.
  • Thanks to its long legs and talons, the Red Goshawk is able to catch its prey while in flight!
  • When up close and personal, the Red Goshawk has bright red eyes that are piercing and ferocious, alongside a distinctive eyebrow that is usually white in color.