Crested GosHawks

The Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) is a bird of prey from tropical Asia. It is related to other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards (or buteos) and harriers, and thus placed in the family Accipitridae.

Distribution / Range

The Crested Goshawk breeds in southern Asia, from India and Sri Lanka to southern China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

It is primarily a lowland bird, and an all-year resident. Even in upland habitat it is resident in winter, for example in the Himalayas foothills of Bhutan or in Sal (Shorea robusta) forest in India’s Dehradun district.

In these lands at the northern end of its range, it is generally very rare however.

Essentially it is limited to tropical and warm subtropical areas.


This raptor has short broad wings and a long tail, both adaptations to manoeuvring through trees. It is 30-46 cm in length, with the female much larger than the male.

The larger size and a short crest, clearly visible in profile, are the best distinctions from its relative, the Besra (A. virgatus).

The male has a dark brown crown, grey head sides and black moustachial and throat stripes. The pale underparts are patterned with rufous streaks on the breast and bars on the belly.

The larger female has a browner head and brown underpart streaks and bars.

The juvenile has pale fringes to its head feathers, and the underpart background colour is buff rather than white.

The flight is a characteristic “slow flap, slow flap, straight glide”, similar to other Accipiter species such as the Northern Goshawk (A. gentilis).

Crested Goshawk

Breeding / Nesting

It is a forest bird which builds a stick nest in a tree and lays two or three eggs.

Diet / Feeding

Like its relatives, this secretive forest bird hunts birds, mammals and reptiles in woodland, relying on surprise as it flies from a perch to catch its prey unaware.

Ecology and Status

The ischnoceran louse Degeeriella storeri is a parasite of this bird; it is not yet known from any other host species.

On the other hand, Kurodaia fulvofasciata, an amblyceran louse parasitizing the Crested Goshawk, is widely found on birds of prey throughout the Holarctic.

In Hong Kong, A. trivirgatus is a protected species under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170. It can be found in Kam Shan Country Park.

Crested Goshawk
Crested Goshawk

Birds of PreyThe Sport of Falconry

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.