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Northern Goshawk
Accipiter gentilis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: American Goshawk (atricapillus), Eurasian Goshawk (gentilis), Queen Charlotte Goshawk (laingi).

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Accipiter gentilis
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Distribution: Indomalayan/Nearctic/Palearctic. Northern Eurasia from Scandinavia, northern RUSSIA, and northern Siberia south to northwestern Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, IRAN, the Himalayas, and eastern CHINA and in North America from western and central ALASKA, northern Manitoba, Labrador, and Newfoundland south to MEXICO (Jalisco, Guerrero); JAPAN, CORSICA, SARDINIA, and QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS. Northernmost Eurasian populations winter south to central Europe, central Asia, and northern Indochina; northernmost North American populations are also migratory, wintering to central UNITED STATES. more....

Subspecies: 8 races. A. g. albidus: Northern SIBERIA to KAMCHATKA, vagrant to JAPAN; A. g. arrigonii: CORSICA and SARDINIA; A. g. atricapillus: North America south to Tennessee and southern Arizona and in MEXICO to southern Jalisco; A. g. buteoides: Extreme northern Eurasia from northern SWEDEN east to River Lena; winters south to Central Europe and Central Asia; A. g. fujiyamae: JAPAN; winters in KOREA and eastern CHINA; A. g. gentilis: Europe and extreme northwestern Africa; A. g. laingi: CANADA (southeastern ALASKA, Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands, British Colombia, Olympic Peninsula); A. g. schvedowi: Asia from the Urals to Russian Far East, northern CHINA, SAKHALIN and KURIL ISLANDS, and possibly KOREA south to central CHINA; winters south to Himalayas and northern Indochina. more....

Taxonomy: May form a superspecies with A. melanoleucus, A. henstii, and A. meyerianus. As expected on the basis of morphological characters, Johnsen et al. (2010) found that Scandinavian and North American populations exhibited divergent genetic clusters, using the COI barcode as a standardized marker.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006) in arctic and subarctic regions, but mostly resident or dispersive in Europe and other more southern regions. In general, more northern populations in Eurasia and North America are migratory, and more southerly populations are sedentary. This species is also an altitudinal migrant in some areas. In some years, there are large irruptions south of the usual wintering range, which are caused by changes in conditions in the breeding range (Mueller et al. 1977). more....

Habitat and Habits: Inhabits both coniferous and deciduous forests, but generally avoids densely forested areas. In England, it favors beech and pine woodlands, but also occurs in virtually any type of woodland (Brown and Grice 2005). In recent decades, goshawks have started colonizing urban habitats across Europe, including city centers (Rutz et al. 2006). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on medium-sized mammals (rabbits, hares, squirrels), and medium- to larger-sized birds (galliforms, pigeons, woodpeckers). Often hunts by waiting in the dense foliage of a tree and launching an attack upon a passing bird, which are taken in flight and on the ground (Adamian and Klem 1999). more....

Breeding: Builds a large stick nest placed in a tree, often a mature conifer, or uses the old nest of some other species. Goshawks may maintain 1 to 8 alternate nests within their nesting areas (Spieser and Bosakowski 1987, Reynolds et al. 1994). The female builds the nest with materials brought by the male, and both sexes repair the lining during the breeding season (Adamian and Klem 1999). The clutch size is 2-4 white or bluish-white eggs, and there is a single clutch per season, which is replaced if the eggs are lost. Almost all incubation is by the female, and the incubation period is from 30-33 days in Armenia (Adamian and Klem op cit.), 28-32 days in Canada (COSEWIC 2009), and 30-32 days in Oregon (Reynolds and Wight 1978). The young fledge at about 34-37 days, but remain on perches near the nest for a few more days and are dependent on the parents for food for about six more weeks (Marshall 1992, Bosakowski 1999). more....

Conservation: Generally fairly common or common throughout its enormous range, with recent declines in some areas, but increases in others. It is a widespread resident across Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Although there were declines in several European countries during 1990-2000, these were more than offset by increases elsewhere, especially in Russia, and the species underwent a moderate increase overall. It is evaluated as Secure in Europe (BirdLife International 2004). The race laingi of southeastern Alaska and coastal islands off British Columbia is designated as Threatened in both the United States and Canada, primarily because of continued logging of low elevation, old-growth forest and suitable second-growth forest. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 130,000 to 180,000 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000) and later at 160,000 to 210,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). more....

Important References: 
Bent, A.C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey. Order
  Falconiformes (Part 1). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 167.
Block, W.M., M.L. Morrison, and M.H. Reiser (eds.). 1994. The Northern
  Goshawk: ecology and management. Studies in Avian Biology no. 16. Cooper
  Ornithological Society.
Bosakowski, T. 1999. The Northern Goshawk: ecology, behavior, and
  management in North America. Hancock House, Blaine, WA.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Fischer, W. 2004. [The Northern Goshawk]. Neue-Brehm Bücherei no. 158.
  Westarp Wissenschaften, Hohenwarsleben, Germany. (In German)
Kenward, R.E. 2006. The goshawk. T & AD Poyser/A.C. Black, London.
Kramer, K. 1973. Habicht und Sperber. Neue Brehm-Bücherei. Wittenberg,
Morrison, M.L. (ed.). 2006. The Northern Goshawk: a technical assessment
  of its status, ecology, and management. Studies in Avian Biology no. 31.
  Cooper Ornithological Society, Camarillo, CA.
Orta, J. 1994. Northern Goshawk Pp. 162-163 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Reynolds, R.T., R.T. Graham, M.H. Reiser, R.L. Bassett, P.L. Kennedy, D.A.
  Boyce, Jr., G. Goodwin, R. Smith, and E.L. Fisher.
1992. Management
  recommendations for the Northern Goshawk in the southwestern United States.
  USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-217.
Rutz, C., R.G. Bijlsma, M. Marquiss, and R.E. Kenward. 2006. Population
  limitation in the Northern Goshawk in Europe: a review with case studies.
  Studies in Avian Biology 31:158-197.
Squires, J.R., and R.T. Reynolds. 1997. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter
). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America
  no. 298. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American
  Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Sites of Interest:
Northern Goshawk photos.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.

Andersen, David
Atkinson, Eric
Bechard, Marc J.
Crocoll, Scott
Enderson, James
Eulaers, Igor
Fry, Michael
Gercken, Marian
Goodrich, Laurie
Hamilton, Karl
Iribarren, Juan Jesus
Jais, Markus
Kennedy, Pat
Morrison, Michael
Newton, Ian
Schröpfer, Libor
Smith, Jeff
Smith, Brian
Speiser, Robert
Tapia, Luis
Varland, Dan
Waks, V.J.
Watson, Jim
Widmer, Eric

Last modified: 5/15/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 13 Jun. 2021

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