Brown Goshawk – an unexpected visitor

hawk seen from behind
Brown Goshawk

Repeated alarm calls from a Little Friarbird in my garden around mid-morning on the 30th made me go outdoors to see if I could see what the problem was. When I did see it, I had trouble believing it: there was a large hawk perched just above head height in one of our frangipani trees. Hawks just do not normally perch three metres off the ground in suburban gardens!

I happened to approach it from behind and made sure I got a photo before it took fright and flew off, but it didn’t even move (except to look at me) as I quietly walked around to its front and approached within four or five metres, clicking away as I did so.

I backed off and watched. It flew down to the ground to seize something like a grasshopper, then walked (I thought it was a bit odd that it didn’t fly) around behind the tree and flew up into the lower branches of the mango tree. The friarbird had hardly stopped complaining all this time and was now joined by a Spangled Drongo, screeching out its own alarm/challenge call and repeatedly dive-bombing the hawk, which flew up into the cluster palm.

Brown Goshawk in golden cane cluster palm
Brown Goshawk in golden cane cluster palm

It spent a few minutes looking around before dropping almost vertically on prey near the pool fence. Finished with the prey, it walked through the fence (one of the ungainliest things I ever expect to see a hawk do) and flew up to another palm.

bird walking through fence
…through the fence…

Eventually it moved to the guava tree nearby, and that’s where it was at dusk. By this time I had consulted my references and decided it was an immature but nearly full-grown Brown Goshawk, Accipiter fasciatus. Coloration will change but it is already a big bird, at least magpie size.

I don’t know where it spent the night but it spent the next day around our garden as well, with just a few small excursions to neighbours’ yards. We were always able to find it easily because the smaller birds kept telling the whole world about its presence; the drongo kept harassing it, too. By that afternoon I was beginning to think that it needed some care. It had been unnaturally lethargic ever since I saw it first, and it wasn’t flying freely or far.

When it was still around on Day 3, New Year’s Day, I rang the Wildlife Carers’ group. Two of their volunteers came around mid-afternoon to assess the situation but concluded that it would probably be scared off by any failed attempt to catch it and we should wait until today, when someone else was able to come with a trap. However, it was nowhere to be seen this morning (Jan 2nd) so we cancelled the attempt. At this point, well into the evening, we still haven’t seen it again and can only hope for the best, i.e. that any injuries weren’t severe and it has now fully recovered and moved on.

2 thoughts on “Brown Goshawk – an unexpected visitor”

  1. A couple of days ago I saw an adult Drongo accompanying a young one on what looked like a training flight. They paused in the poplar gum but the sighting lends weight to my suspicion that the drongo was harassing the goshawk in defence of a nest and chicks. Its attacks started when the goshawk arrived in the mango tree, too, and that is the most likely nesting site in my garden.

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