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A photo of a Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus)
Brown Goshawk

Brown Goshawk

Accipiter fasciatus

The Brown Goshawk, Accipiter fasciatus, presents a striking figure in the avian world. With upperparts cloaked in grey and a distinctive chestnut collar, this raptor's underparts are a rich rufous, finely barred with white. Larger than the similar Collared Sparrowhawk, the Brown Goshawk exhibits a robust build, with a body length ranging from 40 to 55 centimeters and a wingspan stretching between 75 and 95 centimeters. Sexual dimorphism is evident, as females are notably larger than males, weighing in at 355 grams compared to the male's 220 grams.

Identification Tips

When observing this bird, note the fast and agile flight, a characteristic that may aid in distinguishing it from other raptors. The size difference between sexes can also be a useful identification marker, with females being significantly larger.

Habitat

In Australia, the Brown Goshawk frequents eucalypt forests and woodlands, as well as farmland and urban areas. Beyond Australia, in the Pacific regions, it prefers the dense canopy of rainforests.

Distribution

This bird of prey has a widespread presence throughout Australia, Wallacea, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Fiji. Historical records suggest a subspecies may have existed on Norfolk Island until around 1790, but the scarcity of specimens precludes genetic testing.

Behaviour

The Brown Goshawk is a master of stealth and surprise. It employs still-hunting techniques, perching hidden until unsuspecting prey ventures too close. It may also fly through undergrowth to flush out smaller animals. Occasionally, it will stoop from above or pursue small mammals on foot. When discovered by other birds, it induces panic in smaller species, while larger birds may aggressively mob the goshawk until it departs.

Feeding

This raptor primarily preys on medium-sized birds, but will not shy away from small mammals like rats and rabbits. It often hunts near farmlands or wetlands, where ducks, cockatoos, and pigeons are abundant. Its diet also includes smaller birds, such as finches and fairy-wrens, and can extend to domestic fowls and even formidable birds like currawongs and kookaburras. Bats, small reptiles, amphibians, and large insects supplement its diet.

Breeding

The Brown Goshawk constructs its nest high in tall trees, creating a platform of sticks and twigs, softened with a lining of green leaves. Clutch sizes are typically three eggs, though two or four are not uncommon. The incubation period spans approximately 30 days, with the young taking their first flight roughly 31 days post-hatching.

Subspecies

Twelve subspecies of the Brown Goshawk have been described, each with slight variations adapting them to their specific geographic locales.

Conservation status

The Brown Goshawk is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

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