Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for the red goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2012) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Raptor and Water Birds Nest Trees - North east NSW. Natural Resource Management Advisory Series: Note 6 (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2004k) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Red Goshawk - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005dh) [Internet].
NSW:Red Goshawk Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999ba) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009 (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009b) [State Species Management Plan].
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus (Woinarski, J., 2006c) [Information Sheet].
QLD:Enhancing biodiversity hotspots along Western Queensland stock routes (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2009a) [Management Plan].
QLD:Red goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus Conservation Management Profile (Queensland Environment Protection Agency (Qld EPA), 2006a) [State Species Management Plan].
Non-government
    Documents and Websites
Biodiversity Recovery Plan for Gatton and Laidley Shires, South-East Queensland 2003-2008 (Boyes, B., 2004).
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
NT: Listed as Vulnerable (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012 list)
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Near Threatened (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Erythrotriorchis radiatus [942]
Family Accipitridae:Falconiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Latham,1801)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Erythrotriorchis radiatus

Common name: Red Goshawk.

Other common names: Red-legged Goshawk, Radiated Goshawk, Red or Rufous-bellied Buzzard, Red Hawk.

This species is conventionally accepted (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The Red Goshawk is a large, swift and powerful rufous-brown hawk, growing to a length of 45–60 cm, with a wingspan of 100–135 cm. The two sexes of this species are quite different in size and appearance (Baker-Gabb 1984 in NPWS 2002). The females weigh approximately 1.1 kg, the males approximately 0.63 kg. The Red Goshawk is boldly mottled and streaked, with rufous scalloping on the back and upper wings, rufous underparts that are brightest and lack streaking on the thighs, and with massive yellowish legs and feet, and boldly barred underwings. Females are larger, more powerfully built, paler and more heavily streaked below, showing some white on the under body. Juveniles have redder upperparts, and the head and underparts are rich rufous with fine dark streaks. The juvenile's rufous head distinguishes it from adults.

The Red Goshawk can further be distinguished from other similar raptors by its broad 'six-fingered' wings that are held at slightly angled planes when soaring, the lack of pale markings on upperparts, the heavy and dark streaking on the head and chest, the flat head, the deep bill (female), the broad deep chest, and the long tail which is square-tipped to slightly rounded at the tip. No geographical variation has been observed in Red Goshawk morphology (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus 1998; Debus & Czechura 1988b; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen & Debus 2002).

The Red Goshawk is solitary and very thinly dispersed. It is usually observed singly, and occasionally in pairs or family groups. Red Goshawk pairs are believed to remain within the nesting territory all year, but some may expand their home range when not breeding (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b). In the southeast of their range it has been suggested that adults may migrate from the ranges to lowland winter territories (Czechura 1996, 1997 in NPWS 2002). Occasional records of individuals hundreds of kilometres from the known breeding range suggest juvenile dispersal from their natal territories may be extensive (Debus & Czechura 1988b).

The Red Goshawk is endemic to Australia. It is very sparsely dispersed across approximately 15% of coastal and sub-coastal Australia, from western Kimberley Division (north of 19°S) to northeastern NSW (north of 33°), and occasionally on continental islands (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). It has probably always occurred in central Australia, where three widely-spaced, recent confirmed sightings corroborate earlier, previously doubted records (T. Aumann, pers. comm. in Garnett & Crowley 2000). However, no breeding has been recorded in central Australia and these records are thought to be of dispersive individuals (Czechura 2005, pers. comm.).

Although thought not to breed in northeastern NSW (Blakers et al. 1984; Debus & Czechura 1988b) or across sub-coastal areas of the Gulf of Carpentaria and western Cape York Peninsula (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991), historical records (Blakers et al. 1984) suggest that the breeding distribution is continuous.

There appears to have been a recent coastal contraction of the range in parts of eastern Australia, and a northward contraction of about 500km in NSW where it is now virtually extinct (Blakers et al. 1984, Debus & Czechura 1988, Debus 1991, Debus et al. 1993a; Marchant & Higgins 1993). Recent sightings of this species in NSW come from the Northern Rivers region, north of the Clarence River, but there are no recent breeding records (NPWS 2002). Red Goshawks appear to be unusually common on Bathurst and Melville Islands in the Northern Territory (NTDIPE 2002).

The estimated extent of occurrence is likely to be stable at 1 000 000 km². Extent of occurrence was estimated from published maps (Garnett & Crowley 2000). There is no clear data to indicate past declines in extent of occurrence, and there is no information available on predicted future changes in extent of occurrence. The Red Goshawk is suspected to have always had a very large distributional range and extent of occurrence within which it was very sparsely distributed.

The estimated area of occupancy is suspected to be 200 000 km², though the reliability of this estimate is low. Area of occupancy was estimated from the number of one km² grid squares in which the species is thought to occur at the time when its population is most constrained, which is during the breeding season for the Red Goshawk (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Interestingly, multiplying the estimated 1000 breeding Red Goshawks (Garnett & Crowley 2000), which would be 500 breeding pairs, by the estimated home range of 200 km² (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991) yields an area of occupancy of 100 000 km².

The area of occupancy has declined since European settlement. While this decline cannot be quantified, the lack of any breeding records in NSW over the last 50 years, and the decline in sightings of Red Goshawk further from the coast especially in Queensland suggest that fewer areas are now being used for breeding (Debus & Czechura 1988b; NPWS 2002). Indirect evidence of reduction in the area of occupancy exists from egg collecting hotspots during the 1800s in the Cooktown, Cairns and Moreton Bay areas of Queensland and the Northern Rivers area of NSW. Breeding in these areas no longer occurs. Further, it is suggested that since European settlement, development and habitat alteration have rendered about 20% of the predicted Red Goshawk's range unsuitable for breeding, especially in coastal Queensland (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). There are no quantified predictions of future changes to area of occupancy. However, it is suspected that continuing clearing of coastal and sub-coastal forests in Eastern Australia, and on Melville Island, will likely to lead to a reduction in breeding pairs, and therefore a reduction in area of occupancy (Baker-Gabb 1998; NTDIPE 2002).

The distribution of the Red Goshawk is not severely fragmented. It is suspected that there is some fragmentation (BirdLife International 2004d), but there is no evidence that fragmentation in the Red Goshawk distribution is severe. However, some fragmentation may have occurred in the more heavily settled and cleared regions of the species' range, such as in the coastal lowlands of eastern Queensland. The degree of this fragmentation in the lowlands may be masked by the persistence of birds in the adjacent foothill and hinterland country which has not suffered the same degree of clearing (Czechura 2005, pers. comm.).

The total population of Red Goshawk was estimated at 330 pairs, based on BIOCLIM predictions and some assumptions made concerning breeding density (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

An estimated 120 mature Red Goshawks are thought to live on Melville Island (Woinarski et al. 2000). There are no similar estimates of numbers for the Top End of the Northern Territory or the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

It was estimated that there were 1000 breeding birds in 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000). This estimate was made with medium reliability, and based on literature review, the Atlas of Australian Birds (2006b), and Marchant and Higgins (1993) (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Authors of comprehensive checklists have listed the Red Goshawk as absent, rare, scarce, or uncommon throughout its breeding distribution. However, its rarity may have been overstated given that Red Goshawks are difficult to find, difficult to identify, and the nests are exceptionally hard to find when in rugged terrain (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; NPWS 2002).

Despite possible gaps in its breeding distribution, most notably along parts of the sub-coastal areas of the Gulf of Carpentaria (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993), it is suggested that the Red Goshawk breeding range is continuous and that the species can be described as consisting of one large population (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

There is not enough data available to quantify the population trend for the Red Goshawk. There has been some contraction in distribution in eastern Australia, and local declines in abundance have been reported over many years in several areas (Baker-Gabb 1998; Debus & Czechura 1988b). It is suggested that the Red Goshawk population has declined by about 20% since European settlement (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Clearing of coastal and sub-coastal forests is continuing especially in Queensland so further declines in breeding Red Goshawks can be expected (Baker-Gabb 1998). On Melville Island in the Northern Territory, it is thought that the suspected 120 Red Goshawks are likely to be reduced by 10% as a result of proposed forestry operations (NTDIPE 2002; Woinarski et al. 2000). However, Garnett and Crowley (2000) state that there is little evidence of a continuing decline, even in the southeast of its range.

Individuals throughout the Red Goshawk distribution have been reported in reserve systems. Nearly half of the sightings in NSW between 1987 and 2002 have come from National Parks and Wildlife Service or NSW State Forest (NPWS 2002). In southern Queensland nearly all of the significant locations are within existing national parks or state forests (Czechura 1996). In northern Queensland Red Goshawks have been recorded in many reserves including Iron Range and Bulleringa National Parks, but perhaps most consistently in Lakefield National Park. In the Northern Territory the Red Goshawk is regularly recorded in Kakadu National Park, but has also been recorded in Mary River, Litchfield, Nitmiluk, and Garig Gunak Barlu National Parks (NTDIPE 2002).

It is suggested that existing reserves in northeastern NSW are unlikely to provide enough habitat to support a self-perpetuating population in NSW, and conservation may need to be achieved partly on private land (Debus 1998).

The Red Goshawk occurs in coastal and sub-coastal areas in wooded and forested lands of tropical and warm-temperate Australia (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Riverine forests are also used frequently (Debus 1991, 1993). Such habitats typically support high bird numbers and biodiversity, especially medium to large species which the goshawk requires for prey. The Red Goshawk nests in large trees, frequently the tallest and most massive in a tall stand, and nest trees are invariably within one km of permanent water (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b).

The Red Goshawk occurs over wooded and forested lands of tropical and warm-temperate Australia, coastal and sub-coastal (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Use of its habitat is summarised by Aumann and Baker-Gabb (1991) and Debus and Czechura (1988b).

This species prefers forest and woodland with a mosaic of vegetation types, large prey populations (birds), and permanent water. The vegetation types include eucalypt woodland, open forest, tall open forest, gallery rainforest, swamp sclerophyll forest, and rainforest margins.

In NSW favoured habitat is mixed subtropical rainforest and Melaleuca forest along coastal rivers, often in rugged terrain (Debus 1993, 1991).

In the Northern Territory and the Kimberley, Western Australia, tall open forest and woodland, or tall fringing woodlands along rivers in grasslands, shrub-lands, and low open woodlands are preferred (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

Habitat has to be open enough for fast attack and manoeuvring in flight, but provide cover for ambushing of prey. Therefore, forests of intermediate density are favoured, or ecotones between habitats of differing densities, e.g. between rainforest and eucalypt forest, between gallery forest and woodland, or on edges of woodland and forest where they meet grassland, cleared land, roads or watercourses. They avoid very dense and very open habitats (Marchant & Higgins 1993). These habitats provide appropriate foraging conditions for the large Red Goshawk, and a diversity and abundance of the medium to large birds taken as food (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

Immature birds have been reported from mangroves, open river floodplains, low open woodland, agricultural land and pasture, but such habitats are not used regularly (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Nests are in tall trees within one km of and often beside, permanent water (river, swamp, pool), usually in fairly open, biologically rich forest or woodland. The average distance of the nest tree to water was 164 m (n=18). Nest trees were significantly taller, with larger crown diameters, greater girth at breast height, and the height of the lowest live branch was higher than the tallest trees found in the immediate vicinity of random locations along rivers. Nest trees had an average height of 31.4 m, and an average girth at breast height of 2.9 m. Trees in 0.2 ha plots around the nest tree also had significantly higher canopy height, fewer small trees (girth less than 0.5 m), and more large trees (girth greater than 1 m) than random plots (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Nests tend to be placed on a substantial horizontal limb often against a vertical branch arising from it. There is an open space below and to one side at least to enable the birds to easily access the nest and manoeuvre sticks during nest building (Czechura 2005, pers. comm.).

Observation suggests that Red Goshawks may use dense forests (rainforest or tall wet forest) as a drought refuge (Bravery 1970).

Ages of sexual maturity, life expectancy and natural mortality remain very poorly known (Marchant & Higgins 1993). The generation length was estimated at 10 years, but this estimate has low reliability as there is no reliable life history data to base it on. The estimate was made primarily based on data from other taxa (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The breeding season for Red Goshawks is long with courtship starting as early as April and young not leaving their natal territories until as late as the end of December (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Breeding occurs generally in the spring with eggs laid between May and October in the north (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991), and between August and October in the southeast of its range (Debus & Czechura 1988b). Adjacent pairs in the Northern Territory were observed with over a month of separation in fledge dates. Nonetheless, more Red Goshawk breeding records and breeding activity has been recorded from August through November than in other months (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b).

The Red Goshawk breeds solitarily, in forested or wooded areas, within one km of permanent water, and in a large (over 20 m tall) tree. They are probably monogamous (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). The length of bonding is not known, but replacement may occur if one of the pair is lost (Hill 1911). Breeding pairs use the same nesting territories year after year, renovating the nest used in the previous year or nesting nearby (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Conspecific interactions have been observed with Wedge-tailed Eagles and especially with Black-breasted Buzzards which prey on Goshawk nests (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Czechura 2005, pers. comm.).

Courtship is first observed 110 to 120 days before egg-laying. Nest-building and refurbishment is done 50–70 days before eggs are laid. The nest is a large structure (0.6–1.2 m across) made of dead sticks with a saucer-shaped hollow at top, thickly lined with finer twigs and green eucalyptus leaves. There is no conclusive information about clutch size, but it is probably one or two eggs, and Favoloro (1981) noted a mean clutch size of 1.6 eggs (n=15). The female carries out incubation exclusively, but the male may shelter a clutch when the female is off the nest. The male appears to bring all the food from about 25 days before egg-laying through the incubation period. The incubation period is 39–43 days. The male also provides most of the food for nestlings, with two to five deliveries per day, during the first 25–40 days. The female guards the chick(s) constantly for the first 10–14 days. The nestling period is 51–53 days, probably slightly longer for females. Fledglings depend on the parents and remain in natal territory for 25–30 days, frequently being fed by the nest, and continue to be at least partially food dependent for 70–80 days after fledging (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

Reproductive success was measured from 1987–1990 in northern Australia. The overall success rate observed was 0.9 fledged/attended nest (n=26), and 1.3 fledged/successful nest (n=18). Productivity was lower in 1989 (six young from 10 nests), and in 1990 (two young from five nests), than in 1987–88 (15 young from 11 nests). There were no obvious reasons for this diminished productivity. However, there is evidence to suggest that two nests failed because the eggs were taken by collection, another nestling died after being disturbed by a photographer, and two nestlings in one nest died when a bushfire consumed their nest (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

The Red Goshawk's diet is 95% birds. An analysis of 501 prey items taken from around 13 nests in northern Australia revealed only 1.3% of the prey items were in the size class 0–50 g, with 12.9% at 51–100 g, 53.7% at 101–250 g, and 32% over 250 g. The same study estimated that Psittaciformes contributed 51.9% of dietary biomass, followed by Passeriformes (14.8%), Coraciiformes (9.7%), Columbiformes (9.7%), and Cuculiformes (5.2%) (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Red Goshawks occasionally take large prey including species of duck, Rufous Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus, and even Australian Brush-Turkeys Alectura lathami (2300 g). Mammals, reptiles and insects are rarely taken (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The usual method of capture is hunting from concealed or, occasionally, exposed perches, usually changing perches every one to five minutes (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Hughes & Hughes 1988; Lord 1952). They also soar and prospect above the forest for 30+ minutes at a time, occasionally using rapid contour hunting (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). They sometimes attack, launch from high in the air, occasionally in a stoop (Barnard 1934; Lord 1952; Hughes & Hughes 1988), or fly low through or over forest canopy or partly cleared land, marshes, rivers and ecotones, peering downwards (Debus & Czechura 1988b). They often seize prey in flight after a stealthy glide, or during a direct flying attack (Olsen & Debus 2002). This species also attends fires or human activities, where prey is flushed (Debus & Czechura 1988b; Slater 1976), and take nestling birds, sometimes returning repeatedly to a known source (Lord 1952, 1956). Prey is plucked and eaten on the ground (Barnard 1934; Hughes & Hughes 1988) or at perch (Lord 1952; Morris 1973). They often hunt from perches during early hours of morning and last hours of daylight (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

The movements of the Red Goshawk are poorly known. In northern Australia adult Red Goshawks are year round residents (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Barnett 1980), while in the southeast of their range some adults may migrate from the ranges to lowland winter territories (Czechura 1996, 1997). Some adult pairs have also been reported throughout the year in the same general location in southeastern Queensland (Lord 1956). The Red Goshawk is a visitor to the Atherton area, in June to October (Bravery 1970), and a winter visitor to sub-coastal sites in southeastern Queensland (Hughes & Hughes 1988). However, these observations may represent extensions of home-range when not breeding (Debus & Czechura 1988b).

In northern NSW, recorded sightings of Red Goshawks since 1970 have most often been in spring-summer, possibly because young birds are dispersing from natal territories in southeastern Queensland and the Northern Territory (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b). Young may disperse far (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus 1982), as there have been a few records several hundred kilometres outside breeding range, e.g. in the Hunter region of NSW (Debus 1982, 1991).

One study described the daily movements of a pair of Red Goshawks as actively perch hunting early and late in the day, while flying for much of the time much time between 12:00 hrs and 16:00 hrs. Individuals flew for prolonged periods (up to 60 minutes) through and just above the canopy, occasionally soaring up to approximately 1000 m for up to 30 minutes. Further, during late nestling and early post fledging periods radio-telemetry of the breeding female recorded the female commonly up to 5 km from the nest in all directions, and once about seven km from the nest. The male was commonly recorded up to seven km from the nest in all directions, and occasionally flew out of signal range (10 km) (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

One radio-telemetry study has been conducted on a pair of Red Goshawks in northern Australia which resulted in an estimated home range for the breeding female of 120 km², and 200 km² for the male with some indications that it might have been larger (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Five historic records of pairs of Red Goshawks in southeastern Queensland suggested home range may vary from 50–220 km² based on the available habitat surrounding the areas where the pairs were located (Debus & Czechura 1988b). Three nests have been found 6.5 km apart, and other nests have been found eight and 23 km from their nearest neighbour (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b). Approximate densities were estimated at one per 20 km in core areas, and one per 40 km in range areas (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

The Red Goshawk is most likely to be confused with a rufous-morph Brown Falcon Falco berigora, but also may be confused with a Square-tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura, Whistling Kite Milvus sphenurus, adult female Swamp Harrier Circus approximans, juvenile or immature Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon, juvenile Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis, or an adult dark-morph Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Olsen & Debus 2002). The differences between the Red Goshawk and these species are well described (Auman & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus 1998; Debus & Czechura 1988b; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen & Debus 2002).

The relatively low number of sightings and breeding records, combined with the Red Goshawk's unobtrusive behaviour, cryptic plumage, and occupancy in sparsely inhabited areas suggests that the Red Goshawk is unusually difficult to detect and identify (Auman & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b; NPWS 2002). High aerial displays may provide an effective means of finding general nesting areas (G. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.).

While the Red Goshawk is generally silent (Marchant & Higgins 1993), its call is distinctive raucous shrieks and cackling. Calls are more likely to be heard at various times during the breeding season, especially early and late in the season (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Females have been observed to be very vocal in the 25 days before laying eggs, occasionally calling for 30+ minutes. In the 30 days before laying, a chattering call may be heard during copulation, which can happen up to six times a day, and is more frequent in the mornings. Red Goshawks have been observed calling when the male delivers prey, which occurs somewhat more frequently early or late in the day. Quiet begging calls from chicks and louder more frequent begging calls from fledglings have also been heard (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The Red Goshawk spends much of its time below the canopy, but it has been observed regularly flying just above the canopy. Red Goshawks appear to do most of their flying in the afternoon from 12:00 hrs to 16:00 hrs. A variety of infrequent flight displays have also been observed some of which occurred above the canopy, and all would suggest breeding. In the 10 weeks before laying, infrequent unilateral soaring has been observed in the morning by males and less frequently in the afternoon by females. Some mutual soaring, occasionally with calling, in the 30 days before laying has been observed. Male agility displays, and mutual agile displays around the nest site, generally under the canopy, have also been recorded (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The most successful nesting surveys were conducted through extensive ground searches along 5-30 km stretches of wooded river habitat (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Surveys should be conducted during the breeding season, most commonly from August to November, although surveys in June and July as well as December might yield results (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus & Czechura 1988b). Ground searches also may be more effective early or late in the day (C. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.).

Driving slowly along tracks in suitable habitat has also been effective at locating individuals, and occasionally nests (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus 1993).

In the rugged terrain of eastern Australia where the above techniques may be much more difficult, point counts at locations where observers can see over the canopy have sometimes been useful in spotting flying individuals and pairs (Czechura & Czechura 1994; Debus 1993; Smith 1991). These surveys should be conducted during the breeding season, and during the afternoon on fine days with calm to moderate wind (Debus 1993).

Broadcast surveys were attempted by Debus (1993), but their effectiveness has not been determined as no Red Goshawks were located during this survey.


Current threats

Habitat loss has been, and is likely to continue to be the biggest threat to the viability of the Red Goshawk, especially in eastern Australia. Widespread deforestation, particularly of lowland and riverine forests, is thought to have caused the historical decline in northeastern NSW and Queensland (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; Debus 1993; Debus & Czechura 1988b; Olsen 1998), and may affect more northerly birds as clearing continues (Baker-Gabb 1998).

The effect fragmentation of habitat has on the Red Goshawk is yet to be determined. Future coastal and sub-coastal development in Queensland may continue to be an important threat (G. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.). On Melville Island in the Northern Territory, it is thought that the suspected 120 Red Goshawks are likely to be reduced by 10% as a result of proposed forestry operations (NTDIPE 2002; Woinarski et al. 2000).

Illegal egg collecting still results in the failure of some nests, which poses a threat to productivity (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991).

Potential threats

  • It has been suggested that there may be a threshold above which habitat alterations within a breeding pairs home range will not be tolerated (Debus & Czechura 1988b);
  • application of persistent pesticides such as DDT may have caused a historic reduction in population. The past impact of pesticides on breeding Red Goshawks remains speculative, but breeding failure due to eggshell thinning caused by organochlorines has been detected among other raptor species that occur within the range of the Red Goshawk (Olsen et al. 1993). In 1989, Australia ceased widespread use of organochlorine pesticides, and most affected species have now recovered;
  • overgrazing, or other changes in land management could reduce prey availability, which may reduce productivity. It is suggested that Red Goshawks appear to be tolerant of moderate stocking levels, but that overgrazing can reduce the viability of riparian trees used for nesting, and could reduce prey availability (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). Increased Red Goshawk sightings were preceded by a cessation of stock grazing and annual burning resulting in an increase in ground cover and ground dwelling birds (Hughes & Hughes 1988);
  • fire, and changed burning regimes have the potential to impact breeding sites and reduce prey availability, thus reducing productivity;
  • shooting of Red Goshawks, particularly by owners of poultry and pigeons;
  • disease;
  • catastrophic events, such as wildfire and tropical stroms, which may exaggerate the impact of existing threats;
  • possible genetic bottlenecks in the population;
  • secondary poisoning;
  • persistent disturbance by birdwatchers at know nests (G. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.).

The Red Goshawk may exhibit low productivity. An overall success rate of 0.9 fledged/attended nest (n=26) was recorded, due to lower productivity observed in two of four years (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991). The reasons for this diminished productivity were not known, and productivity of the Red Goshawk has not been otherwise assessed.

Recovery actions underway or proposed

  • surveys have been conducted in NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia, however, few nests have been found;
  • a recovery plan has been drafted for the Red Goshawk in NSW which outlines previous nest and habitat protection actions (NPWS 2002).

Management actions proposed

  • locate and monitor known nest sites and develop appropriate management protocol with land-holders, and keep nest locations confidential (Garnett & Crowley 2000);
  • maintain habitat within range of known pairs, particularly in open wetlands, riparian forests and woodlands (Garnett & Crowley 2000);
  • minimise the impact of the proposed Melville Island forestry development, and establish an appropriate monitoring program (NTDIPE 2002);
  • breeding territories will need to be maintained throughout the Red Goshawk range to assure the species' long-term survival. Conservation of breeding Red Goshawks should therefore focus on areas where Red Goshawk habitat is most threatened, currently eastern Australia, and to some degree on Melville Island in the Northern Territory (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; NTDIPE 2002). The viability of Red Goshawks in NSW must be considered in conjunction with birds in neighbouring southeast Queensland (NPWS 2002).

Recommended future research

  • an adequate sample of Red Goshawk nests should be monitored through several seasons to be sure that the species is not declining because of inadequate breeding success (Baker-Gabb 1998);
  • a quantitative study of the landscape habitat variables required for breeding success is needed in order to provide meaningful recommendations regarding land use and conservation, and to identify Debus and Czechura's (1988b) suspected threshold of disturbance tolerance (G. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.);
  • additional ecological studies would be beneficial (G. Czechura July 2005, pers. comm.).

It is likely that breeding territories will need to be maintained throughout the Red Goshawk range to assure the species' long-term survival. Conservation of breeding Red Goshawks should therefore focus on areas where Red Goshawk habitat is most threatened, currently eastern Australia, and to some degree on Melville Island in the Northern Territory (Aumann & Baker-Gabb 1991; NTDIPE 2002). The viability of Red Goshawks in NSW must be considered in conjunction with birds in neighbouring southeast Queensland (NPWS 2002).


Save Today Our Parkland Inc (Queensland) received $16 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003–04 for the enhancement of known Red Goshawk nesting habitat through planting, educational programs illustrating the project, and goals and outcomes for all ages at cultural and environmental centres.

The Mount House Pastoral Partnership (Western Australia) received $8,672.28 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004–05, part of which was for the building of a 5 km fence around Lake Gladstone to regenerate and protect habitat for the Red Goshawk.

There is a recovery plan for the Red Goshawk by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (2002), and a management plan by Aumann and Baker-Gabb (1991).

The Brisbane City Council has prepared a Conservation Action Statement for Woodland Raptors (2005a) to assist in the management of these species in its jurisdiction.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements The Impact of Global Warming on the Distribution of Threatened Vertebrates (ANZECC 1991) (Dexter, E.M., A.D. Chapman & J.R. Busby, 1995) [Report].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:illegal control Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Tourism impacts such as bird-watching Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Animal control Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:pest animal control Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Other Ecosystem Modifications:Habitat dieback associated with bell miners Manorina melanophrys (Bell Miner) Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ii) [Internet].

Aumann, T. & D. Baker-Gabb (1991). RAOU Report 75. A Management Plan for the Red Goshawk. RAOU. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne.

Baker-Gabb, D. (1998). Red Goshawk Decline. Wingspan. 8(4):6.

Baker-Gabb, D. (2005a). Searches for Red Goshawks and Other Threatened Birds on Melville Island.

Barnard, H.G. (1934). Notes on the Square-tailed Kite and Red Goshawk. Emu. 34:25-28.

Barnett, L. (1980). Checklist of Birds of Kakadu National Park and Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Sevice.

BirdLife International (2004d). Species factsheet: Erythrotiorchis radiatus. [Online]. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org. [Accessed: 17-May-2005].

Birds Australia (2005f). Personal Communication.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Bravery, J.A. (1970). The birds of Atherton Shire, Queensland. Emu. 70:49-63.

Brisbane City Council (BCC) (2005a). Woodland Raptors Conservation Action Statement. [Online]. Brisbane: Brsibane City Council. Available from: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/bccwr/environment/documents/conservation_action_statement-woodland_raptors.pdf.

Czechura, G. (2005). Personal Communication.

Czechura, G.V. (1996). Status and distribution of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus in southern Queensland. Report to the Queensland Department of Environment.

Czechura, G.V. (1997). A preliminary study of Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus community relationships. Conondale Range, south-east Queensland. Report to the Queensland Department of Environment.

Czechura, G.V. & R.E. Czechura (1994). Observations of an aerial display of Red Goshawks. Australian Bird Watcher. 15:325-327.

Debus, S. (1998). The Birds of Prey of Australia. In: A Field Guide to Australian Raptors. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Debus, S. & G. Czechura (1988). The Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus: a review. Australian Bird Watcher. 12:175-199.

Debus, S. & G. Czechura (1988b). Field identification of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus. Australian Bird Watcher. 12:154-159.

Debus, S.J.S. (1982). Range and status of the Red Goshawk in NSW. Australian Birds. 16:41-45.

Debus, S.J.S. (1991). An annotated list of NSW records of the Red Goshawk. Australian Birds. 24:72-89.

Debus, S.J.S. (1993). The status of the Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) in New South Wales. Olsen, P., ed. Australasian Raptor Studies. Page(s) 182-191. ARA-RAOU, Melbourne.

Debus, S.J.S., I.A.W. McAllan & Mead, D.A. (1993a). Museum specimens of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus: II Morphology, biology and conservation status in eastern Australia. Sunbird. 23:75-89.

Favaloro, N.J. (1981). The Red Goshawk. Australian Bird Watcher. 9:44-53.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Hill, G.F. (1911). Field notes on birds of Kimberley, north-west Australia. Emu. 10:258-290.

Hughes, P. & B. Hughes (1988). Notes on the Red Goshawk in the Widgee area of south-east Queensland. Sunbird. 18:99-103.

Lord, E.A.R. (1952). Field notes of the Red Goshawk. Emu. 52:23-24.

Lord, E.A.R. (1956). The Birds of the Murphy's Creek District, southern Queensland. Emu. 56:100-128.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Marchant, S. & P.J. Higgins, eds. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2 - Raptors to Lapwings. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Morris, F.T. (1973). Birds of Prey of Australia. Lansdowne, Melbourne.

Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment (NTDIPE) (2002). Threatened Species of the Northern Territory: Red Goshawk Erythriorchis radiatus. Species Information Sheets, NTDIPE, Darwin.

Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts (NRETA) (2006). Woinarski, J., ed. Threatened Species Information Sheet: Red Goshawk Erythriorchis radiatus. [Online]. Available from: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/animals/threatened/pdf/birds/red_goshawk_vu.pdf. [Accessed: 10-Sep-2007].

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) (2002). Approved Recovery Plan for the Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus). NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

Olsen, P. (1998). Australia and Raptors: Diurnal Birds of Prey and Owls. Wingspan. 8(3):1-16. Birds Australia, Melbourne.

Olsen, P. & S. Debus (2002). Red Goshawks and other red raptors. Wingspan. 12(2):12-19.

Olsen, P.D, P. Fuller & T.G. Marples (1993). Pesticide related egg-shell thinning in Australian raptors. Emu. 93:1--11.

Slater, P. (1976). Rare and Vanishing Australian Birds. Reed, Sydney.

Smith, L.E. (1991). Aerial display of Red Goshawk Erythriorchis radiatus. Australian Bird Watcher. 14:147-148.

Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, C. Hempel, R. Firth & F. Watt (2000). Biodiversity Conservation on the Tiwi Islands: Plants, vegetation types and terrestrial vertebrates on Melville Island. Palmerston: Parks and Wildlife Commission of Northern Territory.

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Erythrotriorchis radiatus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 2 Aug 2014 16:52:52 +1000.