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Variable Goshawk - BirdForum Opus

Gray & rufous (typical) morph; subspecies leucosomus
Photo © nidhinc
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 23 April 2023
Gray morph in flight. Subspecies leucosomus
Photo © Joseph Morlan
Sawatuk, Sorong Regency, West Papua, Indonesia, 20 November 2023.
Subspecies sylvestris ("Tenggara Goshawk")
Photo © James Eaton
Potawangka, Flores, Indonesia, June 2005

Alternative Name: Varied Goshawk
Includes: Amboina Goshawk, Grey-throated Goshawk, Tenggara Goshawk, Banda Goshawk

Accipiter hiogaster


  • Mid-sized raptor
  • Three distinct color morphs occur
    • Slate-gray above and rufous below
    • All gray
    • All white

Similar Species

Collared Sparrowhawk and Brown Goshawk are smaller and Collared has a rufous collar.


Widely distributed from Sumbawa in the Lesser Sundas, and Halmahera in the North Moluccas, east to New Guinea, and across much of Melanesia as far as the southern Solomon Islands.


This taxon is considered a conspecific with Grey Goshawk by some authors [2]

Reference notes differences in eye colour, size and plumage in Indonesia, recommending the taxa occurring there be split into 4: "Amboina Goshawk" (A. hiogaster: sspp. hiogaster and pallidiceps); "Grey-throated Goshawk" (A. griseogularis: griseogularis, mortyi and obiensis); "Tenggara Goshawk" (T. sylvestris, sylvestris); and "Banda Goshawk" (A. albiventris, albiventris and polionotus).


This is a polytypic species[1].

  • A. h. sylvestris: Lesser Sundas
  • A. h. polionotus: Banda and Tanimbar islands (eastern Indonesian Archipelago)
  • A. h. albiventris: Tayandu and Kai islands (eastern Indonesian Archipelago)
  • A. h. obiensis: Obi Islands (central Moluccas)
  • A. h. griseogularis: Northern Moluccas (Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore and Bacan)
  • A. h. mortyi: Morotai Islands (northern Moluccas)
  • A. h. hiogaster: South Moluccas
  • A. h. pallidiceps: Buru Island (southern Moluccas)
  • A. h. leucosomus: New Guinea
  • A. h. misoriensis: Biak Island (New Guinea)
  • A. h. manusi: Admiralty Islands
  • A. h. pallidimas: D'Entrecasteaux Archipelago
  • A. h. misulae: Louisiade Archipelago
  • A. h. matthiae: Bismarck Archipelago (Mussau)
  • A. h. dampieri: New Britain (Bismarck Archipelago)
  • A. h. lavongai: Bismarck Archipelago (New Hanover and New Ireland)
  • A. h. lihirensis: Bismarck Archipelago (Lihir and Tanga)
  • A. h. bougainvillei: Bougainville (northern Solomon Islands)
  • A. h. rufoschistaceus: Solomon Islands (Choiseul, Santa Isabel and Florida Group)
  • A. h. rubianae: Central Solomon Islands (New Georgia group)
  • A. h. malaitae: Malaita (south-eastern Solomon Islands)
  • A. h. pulchellus: Guadalcanal (south-western Solomon Islands)


Forest edge in the lowlands and foothills.


Scans for prey from a perch.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2022. IOC World Bird List (v 12.2) DRAFT. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.12.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Avibase
  4. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2
  5. del Hoyo, J., N. Collar, J. S. Marks, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Variable Goshawk (Accipiter hiogaster), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.vargos1.01

Recommended Citation

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