Re: Tom Tarrant's Collared Sparrowhawk or Brown Goshawk

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Subject: Re: Tom Tarrant's Collared Sparrowhawk or Brown Goshawk
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 17:01:03 +1000
Hello Accipiter experts,
Doesn't Tom produce great pictures?!!

My vote goes to the Brown Goshawk.

Why do I say "Brown Goshawk"?

For several years now I have been trying to ID the Collared Sparrowhawk/Brown
Goshawks that visit me from time to time at Woody Point in the south East of
Queensland, Australia.
I have spent many hours studying the actual birds and the video and digital
still pictures I have managed to obtain.
The pictures I have produced are nowhere near as good as the excellent images
that Tom has posted on his web page:
(If you haven't looked at them yet, do it now!)

The conclusion that I have come to with 'my' birds is that they are mostly
Collared Sparrowhawks with the rare Brown Goshawk.
This ID has been achieved from the shape of the tail which in most cases is very
'notched' and the shape and size of the head.

To me 'Tom's' birds show the attributes of Brown Goshawk notwithstanding what he
says about the centre-toe length.
The second bird (rear view only) would have to be called a Brown Goshawk based
on the tail shape there being no other obvious feature to analyse.
It would be a bit hard to imagine that a Collared Sparrowhawk would wear its
tail down from the usual 'squared corners with a slight (at least) notched' look
to a distinctly 'rounded' look as is on this bird.

The first bird has what I would call the classic Brown Goshawk head and beak.
The BGOS has a larger head and more substantial beak than the COSH (sorry Bob F.
the ID chart you sent me a while back has this feature reversed).
The BGOS also has a more 'beetled' brow giving it a 'scowling' look compared to
the more 'open-eyed' look of the COSH.

I think the centre toe measurement is a somewhat misunderstood and misleading
Both of these species have long middle toes but the COSH has the longest.
Even though 'Tom's' bird 1 has obviously long centre toes I don't believe that
makes it a COSH.
I suggest that for the BGOS the centre toe MINUS the toe-nail is roughly the
length of the other toes INCLUDING the toe-nail.
For the COSH, the centre toe MINUS the toe-nail is much longer than the other
toes INCLUDING the toe-nail.
I welcome comment on that statement.

Anyhow that's what I think.....

Incidentally, if you can't afford the award-winning Handbook of Australian New
Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) Vol 2 (Raptors to Lapwings) I suggest you
all look for a copy of Stephen Debus's condensed version of the HANZAB bird of
prey section: "The Birds Of Prey of Australia A Field Guide".
It has the same colour plates as HANZAB and a 'field guide' version of the
HANZAB text compiled in a 'pocket size' format.
Worth having.

Bob Inglis
Woody Point

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