Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The most unique bird in Australia, almost extinct

The red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus), Australia’s rarest raptor, faces extinction. The headland of the York Peninsula is now the only place in the state of Queensland where breeding records can be made. Chris MacColl, a researcher at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, published the research. ‘Emu – Southern Ornithology’who discovered the terror of the animal of this place. The declines of these birds amaze the scientist.

“It is endemic to Australia, where it is not found anywhere else in the world. In addition, it has only one relative, the Bürgers’ goshawk (Erythrotriorchis buergersi) which lives in New Guinea. It has lost its species in four decades. A third of the region of its historical distribution explains MacColl to SINC.

The predator is the first order, so its presence depends on the balance of the ecosystem and the protection of other species, according to the researcher. “Animalism ensures that species further up the food chain don’t become too abundant.”

However, what makes it special is that it is one of the most effective types of umbrellas. “This means that if we have created a specific conservation for these birds, we will indirectly protect many other species, with the need to survive with the largest areas of habitat,” highlights the environmentalist.

In particular, it supports such “animals of the tropical savannahs in northern Australia, among other threatened species such as the black cockatoo, the northern quoll, the black-footed tree and the golden-shouldered parrot.”

The results of the research show that the red goshawk “barely survives in 30% of the areas where it was previously known to inhabit,” the author laments. The species is thought to be extinct in New South Wales and the southern half of Queens.

The scientist also acknowledges “the remarkable decline in north Queensland, making the Cape York Peninsula the last place in the state known to still have a breeding population”. In this regard, MacColl notes that “the Top End, the Tiwi Islands and the Kimberley are the last remaining strongholds for the red hawk, so northern Australia is critical to their survival”.

Male and female Red Goshawks will wake up in the Australian sky. / Patrick Webster

If it goes extinct, “northern Australia would lose an emblematic species capable of maintaining huge areas of tropical habitat and the biodiversity that lives in them,” warns the researcher. “The health of these ecosystems would be compromised even without the important ecological services that the red harp provides through its predatory behavior.”

MacColl believes that urgent measures should be implemented to prevent the disappearance of this emblematic animal. “The tropical savannas of northern Australia, the last place where the species is preserved, are the largest and most intact in the world,” he says. For this reason, “increasing the conservation of these landscapes is essential for the survival of the remaining populations of the red harp.”

However, “the encroachment of these areas on mining, gas and agricultural activity is increasing”, laments environmentalists. In addition, for the correct protection of the raptor “it is necessary to improve the management of fires and weeds in their breeding areas”.

Professor James Watson, co-author of the paper, points out that “these projects pose a real threat to the species, taking into account what we observed throughout its eastern part.” In this sense, it emphasizes that its most painful loss forces governments and communities to be proactive to preserve the remaining places.

Idiosyncrasy of birds in northern Australia

This unique raptor has long been captured by birds with conspicuous red-brown feathers, sharp wings, heavy yellow feet, and huge claws.

The research team analyzed four decades of inspections by citizens to uncover worrying trends. “Threats driving the red harp’s decline require further investigation, but we believe habitat loss and degradation played a key role,” says MacColl.

The authors are asking for government support to change the national conservation status of this harp from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’. This change would allow it to receive a higher maintenance priority.


McColl, C. et al. “Rapid and recent range collapse of the Australian red-radiated Goshawk Erythrotriorchis”. ‘Emu – Southern Ornithology’ (2023)

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news