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8 Amazing Facts About the Black-mantled Goshawk

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a bird of prey native to Southeast Asia. This species is known for its impressive hunting skills and striking appearance.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the identification, plumages, and molts of the Black-mantled Goshawk.

Identification

Field Identification

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a medium-sized bird of prey with a length of around 40-50 cm and a wingspan of approximately 70-90 cm. This species has a distinctive black hood that extends down the back of the neck and onto the mantle.

The rest of the plumage is mainly grey, with the underparts being paler than the upperparts.

Similar Species

The Black-mantled Goshawk can be easily confused with other Accipiter species, especially in areas where they overlap in range. The Northern Goshawk and the Japanese Sparrowhawk, for example, look similar to the Black-mantled Goshawk, but they have different plumage patterns and proportions.

The Northern Goshawk is much larger, with broader wings and a longer tail, while the Japanese Sparrowhawk has a shorter tail and smaller head.

Plumages

The Black-mantled Goshawk has two main plumages: adult and juvenile. The adult plumage is mainly grey, with a black hood that extends down the back of the neck and onto the mantle.

The breast is pale grey, while the underparts are white with fine grey streaks. The tail is barred with black and white, and the wings are grey with dark wingtips.

The juvenile plumage is mainly brown with a white eyebrow, a pale throat, and a greyish chest. The underparts are white with fine brown streaks.

The tail is also barred with brown and white.

Molts

The Black-mantled Goshawk undergoes two molts: the pre-basic molt and the pre-alternate molt. The pre-basic molt occurs in late summer and early fall, just after the breeding season.

During this period, the bird sheds its old feathers and grows new ones. The adult plumage is acquired during this molt.

The pre-alternate molt, on the other hand, occurs in late winter and early spring, just before the breeding season. During this period, the bird replaces its feathers, including the flight feathers and the tail feathers, with new ones.

The juvenile plumage is usually replaced by the adult plumage during this molt. In conclusion, the Black-mantled Goshawk is a fascinating bird of prey that is characterized by its distinctive black hood and grey plumage.

With this article, we hope to have provided you with a better understanding of the identification, plumages, and molts of this remarkable species.

Systematics History

The Black-mantled Goshawk was first described by John Gould in 1858, based on specimens from Sumatra. Gould named this species Astur melanochlamys, which placed it in the genus Astur, along with other forest-dwelling Accipitrids.

However, subsequent studies have revealed that the Black-mantled Goshawk is more closely related to the Accipiter genus, which includes species like the Eurasian Sparrowhawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Geographic Variation

The Black-mantled Goshawk exhibits some degree of geographic variation across its range. Birds from the northern parts of the range tend to be larger and darker than those from the southern parts of the range.

Additionally, birds from Borneo and the Philippines are slightly smaller than those from the mainland.

Subspecies

There are currently four recognized subspecies of the Black-mantled Goshawk:

1. Accipiter melanochlamys melanochlamys – Found in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Natuna Islands.

This subspecies is the nominate form and is the largest and darkest of the four. 2.

Accipiter melanochlamys geislerorum – Found in Borneo and the southern Philippines. This subspecies is smaller and paler than the nominate.

3. Accipiter melanochlamys borneoensis – Found in northern Borneo.

This subspecies is slightly smaller and darker than geislerorum. 4.

Accipiter melanochlamys natunensis – Found on the Natuna Islands. This subspecies is similar in size and color to the nominate, but has a slightly shorter and rounder tail.

Related Species

The Black-mantled Goshawk belongs to the Accipiter genus, which includes over 50 species of small to medium-sized birds of prey. Some of the closest relatives of the Black-mantled Goshawk include the Brown Goshawk, the Chinese Goshawk, the Shikra, and the Japanese Sparrowhawk.

These species share similar morphology, behavior, and habitat preferences with the Black-mantled Goshawk.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a resident species in Southeast Asia, occurring from southern Thailand to Java and Borneo. However, historical records suggest that this species may have had a wider distribution in the past.

Fossil remains of the Black-mantled Goshawk have been found in several Indonesian islands, including Flores and Timor. These fossils date back to the Pleistocene, which suggests that the Black-mantled Goshawk may have occurred in these islands during the last ice age.

Additionally, the Black-mantled Goshawk may have occurred in mainland Asia in the past. There are historical records of this species occurring in southern China, northern Myanmar, and northeastern India.

However, these records are either outdated or controversial, and the current distribution of the Black-mantled Goshawk is confined to Southeast Asia. The limited distribution of the Black-mantled Goshawk may be attributed to several factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, and climate change.

This species is mainly found in forested areas, and deforestation and land conversion have resulted in the loss and degradation of its habitat. Additionally, this species is hunted for sport and food in some parts of its range, which can have a significant impact on its population.

Finally, climate change can alter the distribution and availability of prey species, which can affect the survival and reproduction of the Black-mantled Goshawk.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-mantled Goshawk is a species of bird of prey that exhibits some degree of geographic variation and has four recognized subspecies. This species belongs to the Accipiter genus and is closely related to other forest-dwelling Accipitrids.

Finally, historical records suggest that the Black-mantled Goshawk may have had a wider distribution in the past, but its current distribution is limited due to various human and natural factors.

Habitat

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a forest-dwelling bird, mainly occurring in lowland and montane forests. This species can be found in a variety of forest types, including primary and secondary forests, bamboo forests, and forest edges.

In addition to forests, the Black-mantled Goshawk can also be found in plantations, gardens, and parks, especially in urban areas. The Black-mantled Goshawk is primarily a hunter of tree-dwelling birds and mammals, so it prefers forests with high vertical structure that provide perching and hunting sites.

This species is known to nest in tall trees, and it often perches on high branches or emergent trees to scan the canopy for prey. The Black-mantled Goshawk can also be found in forest clearings and edges, where it can hunt for birds and mammals that are not adapted to forest interior habitats.

Movements and Migration

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a resident species in Southeast Asia, meaning that it does not undergo regular seasonal migrations. However, some individuals may undertake local movements or disperse outside their usual range in search of food or breeding sites.

In areas with seasonal changes in rainfall or temperature, the Black-mantled Goshawk may shift its distribution to match the changes in environmental conditions. For example, in areas with a distinct dry season, this species may move to humid areas near rivers or streams to avoid the drought conditions in the forest interior.

Similarly, during the breeding season, the Black-mantled Goshawk may move to areas with higher prey abundance or less competition from other birds of prey. Juvenile Black-mantled Goshawks are known to disperse after leaving their natal territories, and they may travel long distances to find suitable habitats or establish their own territories.

During these dispersal movements, young birds may encounter various threats, including habitat loss, predation, and human disturbance. Some individuals may also perish during these movements due to exhaustion, starvation, or collisions with obstacles.

In addition to local movements and dispersal, the Black-mantled Goshawk may also exhibit altitudinal movements in response to changes in vegetation and prey availability. For example, in montane areas, this species may move to higher elevations during the breeding season to take advantage of the larger prey available at higher altitudes.

Overall, the movements and migrations of the Black-mantled Goshawk are mainly influenced by its ecological and behavioral requirements, and they may vary across its range depending on the local environmental conditions and prey availability.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a diurnal bird of prey that actively hunts its prey from a perched position. This species is primarily a sit-and-wait predator that relies on surprise and agility to catch its prey.

The Black-mantled Goshawk is known for its quick and agile flight, which allows it to chase and capture its prey in mid-air or in dense foliage. To catch its prey, the Black-mantled Goshawk may use a variety of hunting techniques, including still-hunting, fl ushing, and sallying.

Still-hunting involves watching and waiting for prey from a perched position, while flushing involves scaring the prey out of hiding by flying low over the forest floor or by startling it from a perch. Sallying, on the other hand, involves swooping down on prey from a perched position or while in flight.

Diet

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a generalist predator that feeds on a variety of birds and mammals. The most common prey items of this species include tree-dwelling birds such as barbets, bulbuls, and sunbirds, as well as small mammals such as rats, squirrels, and shrews.

Additionally, the Black-mantled Goshawk may occasionally take reptiles, amphibians, and insects, especially when prey availability is low. To catch its prey, the Black-mantled Goshawk uses its sharp talons to grab and kill the prey, which it then consumes on the perch or carries to a nearby nest or feeding site.

Large prey items are usually dismembered and eaten in smaller portions, while small prey items are swallowed whole.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Like all birds, the Black-mantled Goshawk has a high metabolism and is capable of maintaining a constant body temperature. This species is able to regulate its body temperature through several mechanisms, including evaporative cooling, panting, and shivering.

Evaporative cooling involves the loss of heat through the evaporation of moisture from the bird’s respiratory system and skin. Panting, on the other hand, involves the rapid inhalation and exhalation of air, which helps to dissipate heat through the nasal cavity and mouth.

Finally, shivering involves the rapid contraction and relaxation of muscles, which generates heat to warm the bird’s body in cold weather.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Black-mantled Goshawk is generally a silent bird, but it may produce a variety of vocalizations during the breeding season and when defending its territory. The most common call of this species is a high-pitched whistle, which is often described as “piiiiiii” or “kee-yah”.

This call is used by both males and females to communicate with each other and establish their presence in the area. During territorial disputes or breeding interactions, the Black-mantled Goshawk may also produce a range of more aggressive calls, including barks, screeches, and chattering sounds.

These calls are usually accompanied by physical displays, such as wing-flapping or defensive postures, and they are used to intimidate rivals or attract mates. In addition to vocal communication, the Black-mantled Goshawk also uses visual displays to communicate with other birds of prey.

During territorial disputes or breeding season, this species may engage in aerial displays, such as soaring and stooping, or perched displays, such as spreading the wings or fl uffing the feathers. These displays are used to establish dominance, attract mates, or intimidate rivals.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a highly agile bird that is well adapted to moving quickly through the forest canopy. This species is known for its quick and darting flight, which allows it to navigate the complex and dense forests of Southeast Asia.

The Black-mantled Goshawk is able to maneuver through the forest canopy by flapping its wings rapidly and changing direction quickly. This species is also known for its ability to fly low to the ground, which helps it to flush out prey items from their hiding places.

When perched, the Black-mantled Goshawk is able to hold onto branches and perch surfaces with its powerful talons. This species is able to perch for extended periods of time without moving, waiting for prey to come within striking distance.

Self-Maintenance

As with all birds, the Black-mantled Goshawk spends a considerable amount of time maintaining its feathers and grooming itself. This species uses its beak to preen its feathers, removing dirt and debris and aligning the feathers for optimal insulation and aerodynamics.

The Black-mantled Goshawk also engages in sunbathing, which helps to dry and warm its feathers and stimulate the production of vitamin D. By exposing its feathers to the sun’s rays, the Black-mantled Goshawk can also rid itself of feather parasites and reduce the risk of feather rot.

Agonistic Behavior

The Black-mantled Goshawk is known to exhibit agonistic behavior towards other birds of prey, especially during the breeding season and when defending its territory. This species may engage in aerial displays, such as soaring and stooping, or physical displays, such as vocalizations and aggressive postures.

In addition to displays, the Black-mantled Goshawk may also engage in physical combat with rival birds of prey, using its talons and beak to inflict damage. These fights may be brief and intense, with the winner usually taking control of the territory or mating opportunities.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, the Black-mantled Goshawk engages in a variety of sexual behaviors, including courtship displays, mating, and nest-building. Courtship displays involve aerial displays and vocalizations, as well as physical displays of affection, such as nuzzling and preening.

Mating usually takes place on the nest, with the male mounting the female and transferring sperm. The female then lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 35 days.

After hatching, the chicks are fed by both parents and fledge after around 35-40 days.

Breeding

The Black-mantled Goshawk is monogamous during the breeding season, with pairs often forming long-term bonds. During the breeding season, the male and female work together to build a nest, which is usually located in a tall tree or on a cliff face.

The nest is made of sticks, twigs, and other plant material, and is lined with softer materials such as leaves, bark, and feathers. The nest may be used for several breeding seasons, with the parents adding new material each year to reinforce the structure.

After laying the eggs, the parents take turns incubating them and keeping them warm. The eggs are typically laid in early spring, with hatching occurring a few weeks later.

After hatching, the parents work together to feed and care for the chicks, which mature and fledge after around 35-40 days.

Demography and Populations

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a relatively common species in Southeast Asia, but certain populations may be threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Populations in areas with high deforestation rates or intense hunting pressure may be declining, while those in protected areas or well-managed forests may be stable or increasing.

Researchers are monitoring the population trends of the Black-mantled Goshawk to understand the impact of various human and natural factors on its demography and distribution. Conservation efforts, such as habitat protection and hunting regulations, may be necessary to ensure the long-term survival of this species in Southeast Asia.

The Black-mantled Goshawk is a fascinating bird of prey that exhibits remarkable adaptations for living in the dense forests of Southeast Asia. From its agile flight and quick reflexes to its varied diet and territorial behavior, this species has fascinated researchers and bird enthusiasts for generations.

Despite facing various threats, such as habitat loss and hunting, the Black-mantled Goshawk remains a common and widespread

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