Northern goshawk

Northern goshawk
Accipiter gentilis

Photo by Johan Stenlund (PBase)

Common name:
northern goshawk (en); açor (pt); autour des palombes (fr); azor común (es); habicht (de);

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This species is widely distributed in Eurasia and North America. It is found throughout continental Europe and in Great Britain, and also in northern Morocco, in Turkey and the Caucasus, throughout most of Russia and into northern Kazakhstan and northern Mongolia, and also in Japan, central and south-western China and marginally into northern India and northern Myanmar. In North America the northern goshawk is found throughout most of Alaska and Canada, and also in the United States as far south as California, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia, and in north-western Mexico.

These birds are 46-63 cm long and have a wingspan of 98-115. Females tend to be larger thn males, weighing 800-2.200 g while males weigh 500-1.100 g.

The northern goshawk is mostly found in temperate forests, particularly coniferous, but also deciduous and mixed forests. They also use boreal forests, tundra grasslands and parks with tall trees within urban areas. This species is present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.400 m.

They mainly hunt small and medium sized birds and mammals, up to the size of a pigeon, grouse or rabbit, but also take large invertebrates and reptiles.

Northern goshawks breed in April-June. They are monogamous and mate for life, and both sexes help build the nest. The nest is a large structure made of sticks and twigs, and lined with leafy green twigs, conifer needles and pieces of bark. It is placed in a tree, most often a mature conifer 15-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 bluish-white eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 28-38 days. The chicks are mostly fed by the male and fledge 34-46 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 70-90 days later. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated to be above 500.000 individuals. The northern goshawk suffered significant declines during the 19th and early 20th century due to persecution and deforestation, but more recently the population trend appears to be stable.

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