The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas.
( click here
to see geographic restrictions).
The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Erythrotriorchis radiatus
31 Jul 2009
Profile last updated:
28 Jul 2014
The Red Goshawk is a large, reddish-brown hawk with long and broad wings, deeply 'fingered' wing-tips, and heavy yellow legs. The upperparts are largely grey-brown, heavily scaled with rufous, and the underparts are rufous heavily streaked darker; the head is pale streaked with black. Females are paler than males below, with a whitish lower underbody. In flight from below, the underwing and undertail appear largely white with black barring, and with a rufous panel on the leading edge of the innerwing, and blackish wing-tip. The flight is fast with strong wing-beats interspersed with glides. It also soars, showing a distinctive underwing pattern of rust-red wing-lining contrasting with whitish, heavily barred flight-feathers. The male’s call is a series of high pitched, strident yelps and the female’s call is harsher. When perched it sits upright.
This unique Australian endemic raptor is distributed sparsely through northern and eastern Australia, from the western Kimberley Division of northern Western Australia to north-eastern Queensland and south to far north-eastern NSW, and with scattered records in central Australia. The species is very rare in NSW, extending south to about 30°S, with most records north of this, in the Clarence River Catchment, and a few around the lower Richmond and Tweed Rivers. Formerly, it was at least occasionally reported as far south as Port Stephens.
Habitat and ecology
- Red Goshawks inhabit open woodland and forest, preferring a mosaic of vegetation types, a large population of birds as a source of food, and permanent water, and are often found in riparian habitats along or near watercourses or wetlands.
In NSW, preferred habitats include mixed subtropical rainforest, Melaleuca swamp forest and riparian Eucalyptus forest of coastal rivers.
- Adults appear to occupy territories throughout the year and breeding territories are traditionally used from year to year. Adults have large home-ranges, estimated in the Northern Territory to be as great as about 120 km2 for females and 200 km2 for males.
- Red Goshawks mainly eat medium to large birds, including species as large as Australian Brush-turkeys, Kookaburras, Tawny Frogmouths, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets, but they also take mammals, reptiles and insects.
- Red Goshawks usually hunt from concealed or, less often, exposed perches, but also fly close above or through forest or woodland searching for prey. They often hunt from perches early in the morning and late in the day and tend to hunt more on the wing at other times of the day.
- The breeding behaviour of Red Goshawks is not well known. Breeding is likely to be in spring and summer in southern Queensland and NSW. The birds lay clutches of 1-2 eggs between July and September, in a stick nest in a tall tree (>20 m tall) within 1 km of a watercourse or wetland. Young fledge around November and December.
- In winter in eastern Australia, the
birds appear to move from nesting sites in the ranges to
coastal plains, where they are associated with
- The age at which Red Goshawks first breed is not known, nor is the life expectancy. Young remain with their parents for at least 70-80 days after they leave the nest and may remain with their parents for 4-5 months.
Regional distribution and habitat
Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.
- Clearing and fragmentation of riparian forests and woodlands. Nests are particularly vulnerable to clearing of habitat, and even where riparian strips are not cleared, Red Goshawks usually nest in the tallest trees, which are exposed to storm damage and other disturbance when surrounding vegetation removed.
- Clearing and fragmentation of habitat for rural and residential development.
- Disturbance of habitat, particularly breeding habitat resulting in breeding failure, from forestry activities.
- Loss or degradation of sources of permanent water through draining of wetlands.
- Use of persistent pesticides may result in pesticide contamination of prey species and cause secondary poisoning of the Red Goshawk.
- Intentional shooting by pigeon and poultry owners.
- Reduction in available prey as a result of clearing, the use of fire and changing land use from forest to agricultural land.
- Disturbance of nesting sites and breeding failure from illegal egg-collecting.
- Stochastic events, such as drought and fire, or occurrence of disease, that may have exaggerated impacts upon an already depleted population.
- Genetic bottlenecks may restrict gene flow affecting an already small population.
- Inappropriate fire regime changing habitat structure and impacting on prey availability.
A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here
for details. For more information on the Saving Our Species program click here
Activities to assist this species
- Identify and protect known and potential floodplain and riparian habitat from draining or clearing.
- Protect known habitat from logging.
- Protect known or potential nesting sites with substantial buffer zones.
- Reduce use of pesticides.
- Report any records, particularly of nesting birds, to the OEH.
- Rehabilitate known and potential habitat.
- Locate, monitor and protect known nesting sites and birds. However, the location of all sites should remain confidential to ensure the sites are not then exposed to other threats (such as egg-collecting).
- Educate poultry and pigeon owners in areas near Red Goshawk habitat to
ensure that they are advised of the importance and legal status of the species and of ways to protect their birds without shooting Red Goshawks. Report cases of illegal shooting to the OEH.
- Protect known or potential habitat, and especially nesting trees, from too-frequent burning.
- Debus S. J. S. (1993) The status of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus in NSW. Pp 194-205 In: Australian Raptor Studies. (Ed. P.D. Olsen). Australasian Raptor Association & Royal Australian Ornithologists Union: Melbourne.
- Debus S.J.S. (1991) An annotated list of New South Wales records of the Red Goshawk. Australian Birds 24: 72-89.
- Debus, S. J. S. and Czechura, C. V. (1988) The Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus: a review. Australian Bird Watcher 12: 175-199.
- Hollands, D. (1984) Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of Australia. Nelson, Melbourne.
- Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (Eds) (1993) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2: Raptors to Lapwings. (Oxford University Press, Melbourne)
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2002) Recovery Plan for the Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus). NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Hurstville.
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2002) Threatened Species of the Upper North Coast of NSW: Fauna. (NSW NPWS, Coffs Harbour)
Known or predicted
Geographic restrictions region