Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus)

Brown Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter fasciatus | [authority] Vigors and Horsfield, 1827 | [UK] Brown Goshawk | [FR] Autour australien | [DE] Banderhabicht | [ES] Azor australiano | [NL] Australische Havik


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Accipiter are small and medium-sized hawks, often called Sparrow-hawks or Goshawks. The females are almost invariably much larger than the males – in some cases weighing twice as much – a level of size dimorphism only exceptionally reached in any other genus Falconiformes. Their wings are short and rounded; the tail usually quite long. They are well adapted for flying through dense bush. Bird-catching Sparrow-hawks generally have long and slender legs, with slender digits, the middle one being especially long. Goshawks are usually larger, with shorter, thicker tarsi and digits and a shorter middle digit. Some smaller species have goshawk-like feet and vice versa, making it difficult on a world-wide basis to subdivide the genus on this or any other broad basis. Although many accipiters feed upon birds moreso than do other hawks, some species take many mammals, especially squirrels; others take lizards, frogs, snakes, insects, even snails. In these species the legs and digits are sometimes slender, but short. Accipiters are rarely crested, but some have very attractive colour patterns. Black phases are present, especially in the tropical species. One in Australia has the only pure white phase. Accipiter is the largest genus in the family, having about fifty species. It is present worldwide, but is especially rich in Papua-New Guinea, where a small island like New Britain may have three to five endemic species or distinct sub-species.

Physical charateristics

Brown Goshawks are medium-sized raptors (birds of prey). They have a brown head, slate-grey to brown upperparts with a red-brown collar across the upper nape of the neck, and finely barred underparts of red-brown with white. The rounded wings are dark brown to grey above and buff to reddish brown below with darker wingtips, and the long rounded tail is grey with dark bars. The long legs are yellow, with reddish brown feathering about the thighs. The eye is bright yellow. Males are smaller than females. Young birds have grey-brown eyes, with brown, streaky plumage.

Listen to the sound of Brown Goshawk

[audio: Goshawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 74 cm wingspan max.: 96 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 55 cm
incubation min.: 29 days incubation max.: 33 days
fledging min.: 28 days fledging max.: 37 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Australasia : widespread


Inhabits monsoon forest and woodland, forest edge, savanna, and lightly wooded cultivation. Usually found in drier, more open forest and woodland than the Grey Groshawk. Seldom observed and hunts from a concealed perch in the lower canopy or midstory. Sometimes soars. Occurs singly or sometimes in pairs.


Pairs breed solitarily, building a small platform nest of sticks lined with green leaves and placed 2-36 m off the ground in the fork of a living tree (Debus 1998). In New Guinea, the nest is frequently in a tall tree fringing a garden area or at the forest edge (Coates 1985). Eggs are bluish-white, unmarked or faintly blotched and spotted with reddish-brown, and the clutch size is usually 3 eggs (range 2-4) (Coates 1985). The incubation period is 29-33 days, and the nestling period is 28-37 days (Debus op cit). The period of dependence after fledging lasts up to six weeks.

Feeding habits

Feeds on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, and occasionally carrion. In southern Australia, it preys mostly on birds and young rabbits and on birds and lizards in northern Australia. Pounces on prey from a concealed perch in foliage, or pursues it in flight, and also stalks insects on the ground.

Video Brown Goshawk


copyright: birdinggreynomads


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Brown Goshawk status Least Concern


Nominate race partly migratory over most range: juveniles and some adults (particularly females) from high latitudes and altitudes winter in coastal, lowland and parts of Australia, exceptionally reaching islands to N. Some adults defend regular winter territories separate from breeding territories. Tropical races largely sedentary, but some didimus from inland N Australia winter on N coast and occasionally reach islands to N, e.g. (possibly) Buru, in S Moluccas, whence few records could refer to this race.

Distribution map

Brown Goshawk distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *