Red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus)

Red goshawk with kookaburra prey, perched on branch
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Red goshawk fact file

Red goshawk description

GenusErythrotriorchis (1)

The large and powerful red goshawk is one of Australia’s rarest birds of prey (4) (5). The reddish-brown body is streaked with black, the tail is grey and barred, and the wings are long and broad (5) (6). The female is much larger and more robustly built than the male (2), with a paler plumage that is more heavily streaked with black. Juveniles have a reddish-brown head instead of the pale-coloured head of the adult (7), and lighter plumage elsewhere (5). Although usually a quiet bird, it has been known to emit distinctive noisy shrieks and cackles (2).

Azor Rojo.
Length: 40 - 60 cm (2)
Wing span: 110 - 135 cm(2)
Male weight: 0.64 kg (2)
Female weight: 1.1 kg (2)

Red goshawk biology

The enormous home range of the red goshawk extends from 50 to 220 km² (6). Hunting occurs in open forest during the day (8), with prey consisting mainly of large birds but also including mammals, reptiles and insects (6) (7). Although prey is usually taken from the ground, the red goshawk is fast enough to catch birds in flight, seizing prey with its powerful talons (5).

Breeding pairs build a stick nest in tall trees close to water. Females lay one or two blue-white eggs between August and September, which they incubate while the male hunts for food. After five to six weeks the eggs hatch and the female continues to shelter the young, while the male provides food for the female and nestlings (2). The young do not become fully independent until 17 to 18 weeks (6).


Red goshawk range

Endemic to Australia, the red goshawk is sparsely distributed (7) from north Western Australia through the Northern Territories and Queensland to northern New South Wales (5). Sightings have also been reported in central Australia (7).


Red goshawk habitat

Found in coastal and sub-coastal areas with tall open forest, woodland, lightly treed savannah and at the edge of rainforest (7). However, the breeding habitat is much more specific, with nesting only occurring in very tall trees, close to water (3) (4).


Red goshawk status

The red goshawk is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Red goshawk threats

The red goshawk is threatened by deforestation, illegal shooting, egg-collection and the use of agricultural chemicals (3) (6), with the total population estimated to be fewer than 1000 individuals (4).

Populations in New South Wales and southern Queensland have declined drastically as habitat has been cleared for urban development, agriculture and forestry, reducing the availability of both nesting trees and prey (6). The fragmentation of forest habitat also exposes red goshawk nests, making them more vulnerable to storm damage (7). Ongoing vegetation clearance for sugar cane plantations in northern Queensland is predicted to cause further declines in red goshawk numbers (4).

Illegal shooting by pigeon and poultry owners sometimes occurs when red goshawk nest too close to their farms, which, combined with possible mortality from farm pesticides, may result in local scarcity (7).


Red goshawk conservation

Although the red goshawk’s population is small, recent surveys indicate that it is larger than originally thought and may not be currently declining. This species has therefore been down-listed from Endangered in 1996 to Vulnerable in 2000 and then to Near Threatened in 2012 on the IUCN Red List (3). The red goshawk is fully protected in Australia (2), and its international trade is regulated by its listing under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). Populations are found in five conservation reserves (2) and various nest sites are being monitored to determine breeding success and to prevent disturbance (6). The locations of these nest sites are being kept confidential to further protect the breeding pairs and their young (6). Future conservation efforts need to focus on educating and developing management protocols with landowners, and maintaining habitat within the range of known breeding pairs (7).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the red goshawk see:



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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
  2. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service - Endangered Species Profile (November, 2005)
  3. CITES (November, 2005)
  4. Birds Australia (November, 2005)
  5. Hawk Conservancy (November, 2005)
  6. Queensland Government, Environmental Protection Agency (November, 2005)
  7. BirdLife International (November, 2005)
  8. Mooney, N. (1998) Status and conservation of raptors in Australia's tropics. Journal of Raptor Research, 32: 64 - 73.

Image credit

Red goshawk with kookaburra prey, perched on branch  
Red goshawk with kookaburra prey, perched on branch

© John Augusteyn

John Augusteyn
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 3130
Rockhampton Shopping Fair


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