Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus)

Red Goshawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Erythrotriorchis radiatus | [authority] Latham, 1801 | [UK] Red Goshawk | [FR] Autour rouge | [DE] Fuchshabicht | [ES] Azor rojo | [NL] Rosse Havik


Monotypic species


There are two species in the genus Erythrotriorchis and both reside in Southern Pacific regions. The chestnut-shouldered goshawk habitat spans Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The red goshawk is among the rarest of Australian birds of prey, as well as one of the oldest birds of prey in Northern Australia. Its diet consists mainly of other birds.

Physical charateristics

The crown and nape of the adult are, heavily streaked with black. The back, scapulars and upper-wing coverts have black centres and broad rufous or chestnut edges, producing a general red appearance above. The tail quills are grey-brown, with eight or nine dark brown bars. The chin and throat are white, greyer on the sides of the face, merging into a rufous breast. The under side, including under-wing coverts, are rufous to chestnut, streaked with black. The thighs and under-tail coverts are plain rufous, often paler. Primary and secondary flight feathers are grey, broadly tipped with dark brown, obscurely mottled brown and barred darker brown on inner webs. The eyes are brown to yellow, the feet greenish yellow, and the cere slaty. Females are paler below than males, and much larger. Immatures are browner and paler above than the adult, paler rufous below, with heavier black streaks. The eyes are yellowish brown, the cere dull blue, and the feet bright yellow. The general rufous colour of this species, with its long bright yellow legs and black streaks below, is distinctive. In build it is somewhere between a goshawk and a buzzard. It could scarcely be confused with anything else.

wingspan min.: 111 cm wingspan max.: 136 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 61 cm
incubation min.: 39 days incubation max.: 43 days
fledging min.: 51 days fledging max.: 53 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Australasia : North, East Australia. Historically, it ranged in northern and eastern Australia, north of c.33 degrees S in the east, and 19 degrees S in the west, but its range has contracted from south of 28 degrees S in the east, and it is now virtually extinct in New South Wales. Recent surveys suggest breeding is continuous across northern Australia. The population was estimated at only 330 pairs, but it is now known to be particularly common on Melville and Bathurst Islands, and there have also been several reliable reports from central Australia, greatly extending its known distribution to the south. The population is thought to be stable.


It lives in coastal and subcoastal, tall, open forests and woodlands, tropical savannas traversed by wooded or forested rivers and along the edges of rainforest.


A large nest of sticks is made, high in a tree. It is sometimes built by the birds themselves, but they also use the foundation of another bird’s nest and add to it. The male feeds the female during nest-building, which is apparently done by the female alone, and takes more than three weeks. One or two eggs are laid – broad ovals, bluish white and glossless, unmarked or with a few smears or markings of brown. Laying dates are August and September.

Feeding habits

The Red Goshawk subsists on a diet composed mainly of birds, very often water birds such as ducks or small herons, but also cockatoos and pigeons. Lizards, dead fish and nestlings of other birds are also taken on occasion. Most of the prey is taken on the ground, but it is fast enough to catch birds in flight as well.

Video Red Goshawk


copyright: Martin Kennewell


This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a very small population size.
Widespread clearance for agriculture probably caused the historical decline in north-eastern New South Wales. Continuing clearance may be affecting more northerly populations. Even if riparian strips are left uncleared, pairs usually nest in the tallest trees that are then exposed to storm damage and other disturbance. Egg-collecting may result in the failure of some nests as does burning of nest trees or disruption of breeding by fire. Shooting by pigeon and poultry owners and pesticides.
Red Goshawk status Vulnerable


Poorly known. Breeding adults sedentary, though may expand home range in non-breeding season; regularly ranges 8-10 km from nest. Juveniles apparently dispersive, as inferred from sightings up to 500 km from known breeding sites.

Distribution map

Red Goshawk distribution range map

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