Grey Goshawk

Quick Facts

Length: 46 cm
Height: -
Weight: 545 grams
Colour: -
Habitat: Found in most forest types, especially tall closed forests including rainforests
Food: Birds, small mammals, reptiles and insects
Predators: -
Status: Endangered in TAS. Secure in all other states and territories
The grey goshawk is often called a 'white hawk' because of it's white colourin
Grey Goshawk

The Grey Goshawk is a medium-sized raptor (bird of prey), with two colour morphs (forms). The grey morph has a grey head and upperparts, with white underparts barred grey on the chest. The rounded wings are grey above, white below, and have darker wingtips. The medium length tail is grey above and white below, barred grey. The white morph is pure white all over and is often known as the White Goshawk. Both morphs have a dark red eye and yellow legs and feet. However, this species is so variable in colour and size that it can be known as the Variable Goshawk.

The Grey Goshawk is similar in colour to the Grey Falcon which has pointed, dark-tipped wings and a different shape when flying; however, this falcon has quite a different range and habitat preferences (arid zone) to the Grey Goshawk. The lighter northern form of the Brown Goshawk could possibly be mistaken for a Grey Goshawk at a distance, but it is less thick-set, with a rounder tail and more distinct brown colour and chest markings, and the two species prefer different habitats.

The Grey Goshawk is found in coastal areas in northern and eastern Australia. The white morph is predominant in the more open forests of north-western Australia and coastal Victoria and is the only form found in Tasmania. The grey morph is more common in the thicker, sub-tropical forests of the east coast.

The white form of the Grey Goshawk is the only pure white raptor in the world.

The Grey Goshawk is found in most forest types, especially tall closed forests, including rainforests.

Sedentary; young birds wander in search of new territories.

Grey Goshawks feed on birds, small mammals, reptiles and insects, capturing prey by striking with their long, powerful clawed toes. It pursues its prey in flight, striking at speed, and even chases prey into dense undergrowth. It will also use ambush and surprise to catch birds, included the introduced Common Starling. The larger females can take larger prey than males.

Grey Goshawks form permanent pairs that defend a home territory year round. Both sexes constructs a stick nest lined with leaves high in a tree fork, and often re-use the same nest. The grey and white colour morphs interbreed freely, and this species has (very rarely) interbred with Brown Goshawks. While the female does most of the incubation, the male relieves her when she needs to feed, and catches most of the food for the young, which the female tears up for them to eat.

Grey Goshawks, are listed as endangered species in Tasmania, with their nesting habitat affected by logging.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Thursday 9th January, 2014
BirdLife Australia -


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