Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Variable Goshawk
Accipiter hiogaster

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Papuasian Goshawk, Rufous-breasted Goshawk, Rufous-breasted Hawk, Variable Goshawk, Varied Goshawk, Vinous-chested Goshawk.

Accipiter hiogaster
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian/Indomalayan. NEW GUINEA and adjacent islands west to Christmas Island and the LESSER SUNDAS and east to the SOLOMON ISLANDS. more....

Subspecies: 20 races. A. h. albiventris: Kai and Tayandu Islands; A. h. bougainvillei: BOUGAINVILLE and Faure Islands; A. h. dampieri: NEW BRITAIN ISLAND(Rook); A. h. hiogaster: Seram and adjacent southern MOLUCCAN ISLANDS; A. h. lavongai: New Hanover and New Ireland Islands; A. h. leucosomus: NEW GUINEA and adjacent islands; A. h. lihirensis: Lihir and Tanga Islands; A. h. malaitae: Malaita Island; A. h. manusi: Admiralty Islands; A. h. matthiae: St. Matthias Island; A. h. misoriensis: Biak Island; A. h. misulae: Louisiades Island; A. h. natalis: Christmas Island (Indian Ocean); A. h. pallidiceps: Buru Island; A. h. pallidimas: Entrecasteaux Island A. h. polionotus: Damar, Babar, Tanimbar, and Banda Islands; A. h. pulchellus: Guadalcanal Islands; A. h. rubianae: New Georgia Islands; A. h. rufoschistaceus: Choiseul, Santa Isabel Islands; A. h. sylvestris: LESSER SUNDAS from Sumbawa to Alor. more....

Taxonomy: Formerly regarded as conspecific with A. novaehollandiae, but Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2000) separated that form on the basis of differences in size, color polymorphism, juvenile plumage, behavior, and habitat preferences. Their treatment is being increasingly followed by recent authors, including Christidis and Boles (2008) and Debus (2008, 2009).

Movements: Non-migratory, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in a broad array of habitats, including primary and tall secondary forest, forest edge, monsoon forest, savanna, scrub, and plantations. In New Guinea and adjacent islands, it frequents forest edges, monsoon forest, partly cleared areas, gallery forest in savanna, cultivated areas, and swamp edges (Hoogerwerf 1971, Coates 1985). It perches in shade trees, patrols the edge of forest at canopy height, but soars infrequently (Beehler et al. 1986). Diamond (1975) found that this species sometimes occurs in close proximity to A. albogularis on Bougainville Island, but the latter species ranges higher (up to 1,800m ), while A. hiogaster occurs primarily below 900 m and occurs outside of forest, unlike the other species. Frequently seen in flight, hunting over the canopy, or dashing along the forest edge, but is usually inconspicuous. Occurs singly, or in pairs. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on birds (including fruit-doves, sandpipers, and starlings) and also takes small mammals, lizards, frogs, snakes, and large insects (Coates and Bishop 1997, Coates 2001). Diamond (1975) stated that it feeds mainly on reptiles and insects on Bougainville Island. This species searches for prey from an exposed perch and also jumps about among foliage and vines when seeking small animal prey (Coates 1985). Beehler et al. (1986) regarded it as mainly a still hunter that attacks its prey from perches. more....

Breeding: Nests observed in the Port Moresby area were placed conspicuously 25-30 m high on sturdy, nearly horizontal limbs or forks in large leafless trees at the edge of forest, edge of gallery woodland, and in partly cleared areas (Coates 1985).

Conservation: This is apparently a fairly common species on most of the islands where it occurs. It is categorized (as a part of A. novaehollandiae) as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International, except for the Christmas Island race, A.h. natalis, which is cattegorized as Endangered (Garnett et al. 2011). Bishop and Jones (2001) suggested that this species might be excluded from the higher mountains of West New Britain by competition from the larger New Britain Goshawk, A. princeps, and the smaller New Britain Sparrowhawk, A. brachyurus.

Important References: 
Coates, B.J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck
  Archipelago and Bougainville. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. Dove Publications,
  Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Coates, B.J., and K.D. Bishop. 1997. A guide to the birds of Wallacea,
  Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. Dove
  Publications, Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Variable Goshawk. Pp. 149-150 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Diamond, J.M. 1975. Distributional ecology and habits of some Bougainville
  birds (Solomon Islands). Condor 77:14-23.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Fischer, W. 1980. [The Northern Goshawk]. Neue-Brehm Bücherei 158:1-188.
  (In German)
Hadden, D. 2004. Birds and bird lore of Bougainville and the North
  Solomons. Dove Publications, Alderley, Queensland, Australia. 312 pp.
Mayr, E. 1957. Birds collected during the Whitney South Sea Expedition.
  64. Notes on the birds of northern Melanesia. The genus Accipiter. American
  Museum Novitates no. 1823.
Sibley, C.G. 1951. Notes on the birds of New Georgia, central Solomon
  Islands. Condor 53:81-92.

Last modified: 10/19/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Variable Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Copyright © 1999-2012 The Peregrine Fund. All Rights Reserved.