Crested Goshawk. L: 26 Nov. 2017, Century Park, Shanghai (Li Qiu). R: 30 April 2015, Emeifeng, Fujian (Craig Brelsford).

Crested Goshawk at Century Park

by Craig Brelsford

​At Pudong’s Century Park on 26 Nov., I recorded Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus. It was my first record at Century of Crested Goshawk, a species whose presence in urban Shanghai is growing ever more noticeable.

Li Qiu (李秋), her husband Qiao Ying (乔颖), Paul Hyde, and I were standing in Woodcock Forest (31.213235, 121.551704), a heavily wooded part of Century Park. We were watching Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major, itself rare in urban Shanghai.

We saw an Accipiter flying over the treetops. We ran out of the forest into a grassy area and saw the goshawk soaring 100 m above the park. Qiu got the photo above left.

The goshawk seemed not to be passing through Century but to be using the park; the combination of low flight over the treetops followed by soaring flight over the park gave me an impression of a raptor that knows the area.

Why is Sunday’s goshawk Crested Goshawk?

1. Wings short and broad and “pinched” at base—the narrow wing base is obvious in Qiu’s photo, as well as in my photo above right of a Crested Goshawk from Emeifeng, Fujian. Crested Goshawk is well-known for its narrow wing base and bulging secondaries. By contrast, regional sparrowhawks such as Besra Accipiter virgatus and Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus have less-rounded wings.

Comparison of bulge of secondaries of regional sparrowhawks. Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus (top L) shows a ‘pinched’ wing base and bulging secondaries. Much straighter are the wings of Chinese Sparrowhawk A. soloensis (top R) and Japanese Sparrowhawk A. gularis (bottom R). The secondaries of Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus (bottom L) show more of a bulge than the previous two species but less than Crested Goshawk. (Craig Brelsford)

2. When I saw the raptor close, soaring over the treetops, the impression I got was not of a large, buzzard-sized Accipiter (as might have been the impression if the raptor had been Northern Goshawk A. gentilis). Instead, I got the impression of a smaller raptor. An impression of a large, Buteo-sized raptor would weigh against a diagnosis of Crested Goshawk, but an impression of a smaller raptor weighs in favor of an Accipiter the size of Crested Goshawk.

3. Besra is less likely to be seen soaring than is Crested Goshawk.

4. As I note in my post “Crested Goshawk Invades Shanghai,” Crested Goshawk is known to occur in urban Shanghai, including Century Park. Knowledge that Crested Goshawk is in this city does not weigh against a diagnosis of the Accipiter Sunday as Crested Goshawk. Indeed, if my impression of a more or less resident Accipiter is correct, then it lends support to the idea.

P.S. In addition to the goshawk, our 38 species Sunday included a first-ever Century Park record of Eurasian Coot Fulica atra. For a list of all the species recorded at the premier birding park in urban Shanghai, see our page Birds Recorded at Century Park.

Featured image: Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus. Left: Century Park, Shanghai, 26 Nov. (Li Qiu). Right: Emeifeng, Fujian. (Craig Brelsford)

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Craig Brelsford

Craig Brelsford is the founder of Brelsford lived in Shanghai from 2007 to 2018. Now back home in Florida, Brelsford maintains close ties to the Shanghai birding community and continues his enthusiastic development of this website. When Brelsford departed China, he was the top-ranked eBirder in that country, having noted more than 930 species. Brelsford was also the top-ranked eBirder in Shanghai, with more than 320 species. Brelsford’s photos of birds have won various awards and been published in books and periodicals and on websites all over the world. Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, published in its entirety on this website, is the most Shanghai-centric field guide ever written. Brelsford is a graduate of the University of Florida and earned a master's in business administration at the University of Liege, Belgium.

7 thoughts on “Crested Goshawk at Century Park”

  1. Hi Craig, rigorous as always. Your ID posts are getting some global recognition, as I found out in Singapore this weekend: Ding Li Yong of Birdlife International based in Singapore used your ID guide on Sakhalin Leaf Warbler to confirm Singapore’s first record! Keep up the good work!

  2. Great post on the goshawk! I just really appreciate your call for people to confirm . . . really the way to get to the facts. Bravo.

  3. Hey Craig, I’m Hardik and I’m from India, visiting Shanghai for about 10 days. Firstly, congratulations on having a child! Your website was quite informative. I’m an avid birder myself. Can I join you on the weekend perhaps if you’re planning on a birding field trip to any of the parks you mentioned above in the articles?

  4. I had a great time recently in Shanghai. After nearly 30 years of travelling all over Asia I finally made it to China. I did Century Park on my own. I loved it. I spent a lot of time working the edges and was surprised at how much of the time I was pretty much alone.

    This is what I managed to see.

    Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
    Rock Pigeon Columba livia
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
    Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
    Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
    Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
    Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
    Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus
    Oriental Magpie Pica serica
    Japanese Tit Parus minor
    Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
    Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana
    Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
    Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
    White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea
    Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus
    Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus
    White Wagtail Motacilla alba
    Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

    Anything unusual here? Thanks very much for your efforts.

    1. Hi Paul—Glad to have been of help, and congratulations on your wise choice to bird Century. I’m not surprised you found much peace and quiet in that park, as large as it is, and assuming that you were there on a weekday.

      Your most unusual record is Crested Goshawk. Your record adds to the growing body of evidence of the regularity of that species at Century and at other parks in urban Shanghai.

  5. Hey Craig, I just wanted to say again how much I enjoy reading your blog. Not only has it provided me with LOTS of information before even traveling to China but it has also continued to be a pivotal source for me. Especially, when wanting to delve a bit deeper into a bird ID or get a more current thinking on bird distribution. Case in point, the Crested Goshawk. While some of our favorite field guides have the Crested Goshawk range remaining much further south of Shanghai, your posts alerted me to this maybe not being the case anymore (ever?) and this made me better prepared when I came across my own on Goshawk in the Wuxi area. This kind of information is invaluable and it really complements the field guides wonderfully.

    1. Thanks for the public praise, and thanks even more for grasping and appreciating what we’re trying to do with this website. I’m thrilled that we were able to help you ID your goshawk at Wuxi.

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