News from the Field

Elusive Red Goshawk spotted on Wilinggin Country

14 Oct. 2020
© Jacob Charters/WAC

One of Australia’s rarest birds of prey has been found on Wilinggin Country in the Kimberley’s remote north-west. Read Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation’s (WAC) original Facebook announcement here.

AWC land managers were working on Wilinggin Country with Wunggurr Rangers, and WAC and Kimberley Land Council (KLC) staff, when the exciting discovery was made.


Red Goss Hawk Nest © Jacob Charters/WAC
A sight that few people have seen: a Red Goshawk nest.


This Australian endemic was once found throughout the tall eucalypt forests that stretch from New South Wales to Cape York, and across the Top End to the Kimberley. Although never a common species, its range has greatly retracted in recent decades and the Red Goshawk is now considered Australia’s rarest bird of prey.


Red Goss Hawk 02 © Jacob Charters/WAC


Widespread habitat clearance and modification have been the primary drivers of this decline. However, this nest is reported to have been in the same tree for at least 30 years, and no doubt borne witness to the hatching of many new Red Goshawk chicks, highlighting the importance of maintaining this habitat.


Goss Hawk Nest © Jacob Charters/WAC
Red Goshawk nest found on Wilinggin Country.


AWC Land Management Officer, Dale Tucker, and Wunggurr Ranger Coordinator, Jacob Charters, later returned to the nest for further research, finding a mating pair of Red Goshawks circling above, and the sound of chirping juveniles in the nest.


Red Goss Hawk 01 © Jacob Charters/WAC
Mating pair of Red Goshawks circle above the nest.


Conservation of the Red Goshawk

Requiring large tracts of biodiverse habitat, the Red Goshawk naturally occurs at low densities and is highly cryptic in nature. As a result, it is regarded among birders and ecologists as a difficult bird to see and study.

In 2014, a Recovery Team for the Red Goshawk was formed and a feasibility study began to find nesting pairs and establish whether their movements could be tracked using satellite GPS technology. Read more about this work, which AWC is a part of, here.

As part of our AWC in Conversation webinar series, we spoke with Dr Richard Seaton in depth about this project. You can watch this episode below: