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Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

Length: 19 - 27 inches Wingspan: 40 - 48 inches Seasonality: Winter / All Seasons
ID Keys: Black face with white eyebrow, gray barring below (on mature birds)

Northern Goshawk - Accipiter gentilisNorthern Goshawks are large and bold hawk of the forests. Like the other Accipiters, they are able to pursue prey in rapid and highly maneuverable flight. Numbers of Northern Goshawks may come well south of it's normal range in the winter if prey populations are low.  They are a widespread species, found not only in North America, but also in much of Europe and parts of Asia.

Habitat: Forests. Usually in forested areas, but may be found along edges or open areas. Prefers conifer to mixed forest, but may be in any forest type in winter.

Diet: Feeds on wide variety of birds, including ducks, grouse, and crows, as well as small mammals such as squirrels, snowshoe hare, lemmings, and rabbits.

Behavior: Hunts from a perch, using a quick burst of speed to pursue and catch prey that comes within range. 

Nesting: Mid March through June

Song: Northern Goshawk Call.  

Migration: Some migration southward in winter from normal range in Canada, New England, and the U.S. Rockies.  Some permanent residents in the Black Hills.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here for an interactive eBird map of Northern Goshawk sightings

Similar Species: Juveniles can be difficult to distinguish from Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk, although adults are usually distinctive, with the gray barring underneath.

Conservation Status: Populations may be increasing and ranges expanding, especially in the northeastern United States.  In other areas, loss of habitat is resulting in local declines.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Goshawk

2) WhatBird - Northern Goshawk

3) Audubon Guide - Northern Goshawk

Photo Information: January 26th, 2002 -- Newton Hills State Park -- Terry L. Sohl


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view 
Northern Goshawk - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare winter visitor throughout the state. Rare permanent resident in the Black Hills.