Northern Goshawk

(Genus, species:  Accipiter gentilis)

Northern Goshawk

If you're an avid birdwatcher, the Northern Goshawk is one bird you'll likely want to view from a distance.  It is a very aggressive bird that will swoop and possibly attack anything that comes too close for comfort.

Having said that it's a very beautiful raptor, both in and out of flight.

Summer Locations
Northern Goshawk Summer Locations
Thanks to the U.  S. Geological Survey for this image.

General:  Generally found in remote northern areas in North America, Europe and Asia.

Northern Goshawk: Description

Description - male:  Northern Goshawks are large birds, 20 to 23 inches long with a wingspan of 40 to 43 inches.

Northern Goshawks have a dark gray to black crown, white eyebrow and black eyeline.  The rest of their face, throat, breast and belly are white to light gray with fine vertical barring.  They have a blue-gray back.  Wings and tail and piercing red eyes.

Description - female:  same as the male, though slightly larger -- 23 to 25 inches long with a wingspan of 43 to 46 inches.

Description - young:  Newly hatched chicks are white to light gray.  When immature, the goshawk is a brownish color with pale underparts.

Northern Goshawk: Feeding

Feeding:  Northern Goshawks feed mainly on grouse, ground squirrels, tree squirrels, jays, songbirds and rabbits.

Habitat:  Northern Goshawks nest in deep woods, high in trees.  Because they prefer deep woods and tall trees, the logging of old growth forests have caused a decline in the population of these birds (they are not endangered though).

When not breeding, the Goshawks can also be seen on forest edges, parks and agricultural areas.

Nesting:  Northern Goshawks build a large nest of sticks and twigs.  Within their territory, a breeding pair may build as many as 9 nests each of which they'll often reuse for several years.

Although the goshawks maintain up to 9 nests, they only defend 1 each year.  The remaining nests are often 'borrowed' by owls, squirrels and hawks.

The female typically lays a clutch of 3 pale blue eggs (though the number can range anywhere from 2 to 5).  The eggs are not laid all at once.  Instead the female waits 2 or 3 days between each egg.

The eggs typically take about a month to incubate.  It is mainly the female that sits on the nest during this time, though the male does help long enough for her to feed herself.

Once the eggs hatch, the female stays with them for 3 to 4 weeks.  During this time, the male must provide food for the female and nestlings.

Northern Goshawk: Enemies

Enemies:  The Northern Goshawks are tough birds with few enemies.  They are somewhat more vulnerable during nesting times when other large hawks, owls, tree climbing bears or lynx may kill a goshawk -- typically the young ones.

Migration:  Most Northern Goshawks remain in their territory year round, moving only to find prey.  However migration does occur in late August to early September with the birds returning to their nesting areas in February.


Worksheets and Other Activities:

[Birds of Alberta]  [Canada Geese]  [Great Horned Owl]  [Merlin]  [Northern Goshawk]  [Pine Grosbeak]  [Puffin]  [Rock Dove]  [Ruffed Grouse]  [Sharp-tailed Grouse]  [Steller's Jay]  [Wild Turkey]  [Willow Ptarmigan]