Northern Goshawk

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Image:NoGoshawk.jpg

Common Name: Northern Goshawk
Scientific Name: Accipiter gentilis

Size: 18-27 inches (46-69 cm); Wingspan: 36-50 inches (89-127cm)

Habitat: North America and Eurasia; a widespread species that inhabits the temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. It is mainly resident, but birds from colder regions migrate south for the winter. In North America, migratory goshawks are often seen migrating south along mountain ridge tops in September and October.

They can be found in both deciduous and coniferous forests with mature, old-growth woods and are typically found where human activity is relatively low. During nesting season, they favor tall trees with intermediate canopy coverage and small openings below for hunting.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 500,000 adult individuals with a stable population trend. Significant declines in Europe in the 19th-20th centuries are thought to have resulted from persecution and deforestation, with later declines in the 1950s-1960s a result of poisoning from pesticides and heavy metals. Persecution continues to be a threat, as is nest robbing for falconry. It is also highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind farm developments.

Diet: Small mammals and birds. Prey species may be quite diverse, including pigeons and doves, pheasants, partridges, grouse, gulls, assorted waders, woodpeckers, corvids, waterfowl (mostly tree-nesting varieties) and various passerines depending on the region. Mammal prey may include rabbits, hares, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, voles, mice, weasels and shrews. The goshawk is likely a significant predator of other raptors, known prey including European honey buzzards, owls, smaller Accipiters and the American kestrel

Nesting: While sexes are alike, females are 10-25% larger than males. Across most of the species' range, it is blue-grey above and barred grey or white below, but Asian subspecies in particular range from nearly white overall to nearly black above. The juvenile is brown above and barred brown below. Juveniles and adults have a barred tail, with dark brown or black barring. Adults always have a white eye stripe. Most of the Eurasian races have much more dark barring on the chest than the American form, but about half of all Siberian goshawks are nearly white.

In North America, juveniles have pale-yellow eyes, and adults develop dark red eyes usually after their second year, although nutrition and genetics may affect eye color as well. In Europe and Asia, juveniles also have pale-yellow eyes while adults develop orange-colored eyes.

Adults return to their nesting territories by March or April. Males perform an undulating flight display to attract females. Breeding pairs will mate for life.

Female begin laying eggs in April or May. Nesting areas are often found in a large, mature or old-growth forest tree. Nests are bulky structures, made of dead twigs, lined with leafy green twigs or bunches of conifer needles and pieces of bark. The clutch size is usually 2 to 4 bluish-white eggs. The female is the primary incubator although the male will sometimes take a shift to give the female a chance to eat. The male does most of the hunting for both the female and the young at the nest. The incubation period can range from 28 to 38 days. Nestling goshawks are highly vocal. They may use a "whistle-beg" call as a plea for food. It begins as a ke-ke-ke noise, and progresses to a kakking sound. The chick may also use a high pitched "contentment-twitter" when it is well fed. The young leave the nest after from 35 to 46 days and start trying to fly another 10 days later. Parent goshawks continue to actively feed their offspring until they are about 70 days of age. The young may remain in their parents' territory for up to a year of age, at which point sexual maturity is reached.

Cool Facts: It is the only species in the Accipiter genus found in both Eurasia and North America. The name "goshawk" comes from the Old English words gos, meaning goose, and hafoc meaning hawk. It is pronounced as if the words are still separate.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume III: Hawks of the New World

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