Nature conservation

Threatened species

Red Goshawk - profile

Indicative distribution

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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
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
Gazetted date: 31 Jul 2009
Profile last updated: 14 Jun 2019


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 permanent wetlands.
  • 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.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Known None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Known None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Known None
NSW North CoastEllerston Predicted None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Predicted None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None