Interview with a Red Goshawk

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We have been so chuffed reading all of the entries to the 2022 POEM FOREST Nature Writing Prize for students and teachers!

Inspired by The Red Goshawk by Mischka A in year 6 at Balmain Public School and entered as part of the Threatened Species category, we tracked down this rare bird of prey for a chat.

Interview with a Red Goshawk

Thanks for joining us - we particularly appreciate it knowing how busy you must be at this time of year.
Thanks for having me! I have been busy lately, renovating the nest and getting reading to welcome some new nestlings into the world.

Oh wow, renovating! How's that been going?
Really well so far, thanks for asking. I count myself pretty lucky in that we don't tend to rebuild the entire nest year on year if we can avoid it, so I've had the opportunity to seek out some really nice sticks and build it into something I feel really proud of.

That's awesome. How would you describe your nest?
It's pretty big I guess compared to a lot of other birds - but then again so are we. I'd say my nest is about 1.1m across, which is pretty standard for a Red Goshawk. Most of us tend to build nests around 0.6-1.2m from an array of sticks and then line that with green eucalyptus leaves and smaller twigs to make it cosy. I like to find a balance between a kind of functional minimalism that still feels homely.

Can you tell us a bit about where you like to hang out?
My hunting style means I prefer tree cover, so most of my favourite spots include large tracts of tall open woodland.

What’s your favourite food?
About 95% of my diet is birds. I generally prefer small birds - lorikeets are my favourite for sure, but I’ve been known to eat birds as big as Kookaburras, Currawong and Cockatoos.

Do you eat lizards?
Not really, I’m not big on reptiles, insects or mammals. So you’re probably safe.

You’ve been described as ‘strikingly powerful’ and ‘nothing short of spectacular’ - how does it feel to be admired by so many?
It really warms my heart knowing that people out there care about us. We’re probably Australia’s rarest bird of prey - largely because our population has decreased so much due to humans clearing what used to be our habitat.

I think there’s also an element of surprise I like to keep alive which might add to that sense of awe people experience when they do see me. I’m not big on hovering to hunt like some of my cousins. I prefer to hunt from a perches and change up my watching spot every couple of minutes.

What’s it like to fly?
Breathtaking. I still remember fledging from my nest as a little one - you really have to have that grit and determination, that trust that the sky will hold you. Which of course, it does. Walking seems so inefficient in comparison, I don’t know why you do it.

About the Threatened Species Prize (F-12)

The Threatened Species Prize (F-12) will be awarded to the best poem written in response to Australia’s threatened species. See the list of threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities.

Check out the full list of POEM FOREST Entry Categories, Prizes and Judges here.

Image source: Summerdrought, via Wikimedia Commons