Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
Concealed in the foliage of a tree, the Red Goshawk is often difficult to spot, at least until it launches out from its hiding place on deeply-fingered wings, in pursuit of a bird. Birds make up the bulk of its diet, but Red Goshawks also eat lizards, snakes and, occasionally bats and insects. They usually inhabit forests and woodlands, and especially favour the boundary between two different types of forest.
A large rufous-brown hawk, the Red Goshawk has a pale head with dark streaks, with hindneck, back and inner wing-coverts that are blackish brown with rich rufous scallop-like markings; the rest of the upperbody, including the tail, are slate grey with black barring. The chin and throat are whitish with fine black streaks, but the rest of the underparts are rich rufous. The flight feathers are slate grey with black barring above, and two-tone below, with silvery-white flight feathers with black barring, with the remainder rufous, like the underbody. The eyes are yellow or brown, and the legs and feet are yellow.
Red Goshawks mostly occur in northern Australia, where they occur at scattered sites from the Kimberley in WA, through the Top End in the Northern Territory and Cape York Peninsula and north-eastern Queensland, and a few scattered sites in between; a few also occurred in south-eastern Queensland and adjacent areas of north-eastern NSW but this population is likely to now be extinct.
Inhabiting tropical and warm-temperate woodlands and forests, the Red Goshawk prefers areas with a mosaic of vegetation types, often near wetlands. They often occur at the boundary between two vegetation types, and often favour forests or woodlands dominated by eucalypts or paperbarks. They avoid very dense or very open habitats.
Prey is usually captured by dashing out from a concealed perch among the foliage of trees.
Though Red Goshawks mostly feed on birds, they also occasionally take small mammals, large insects and reptiles such as frill-necked lizards and snakes. Though many different species of birds are eaten, they are said to favour Rainbow Lorikeets and Blue-winged Kookaburras.
One or two dull, bluish-white eggs are laid in a large nest of dead sticks, lined with twigs and green eucalyptus leaves. They are incubated by the female only for up to 43 days. The young are mostly fed by the female, but most of the food is provided by the male bird.