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Northern Goshawk - Accipiter gentilis

red-tailed hawk


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Accipitriformes
 Family: Accipitridae
 Genus:   Accipiter 

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern



Northern GoshawkThe northern goshawk is 22-26 inches in length and has a wingspan of 38-45 inches. It has reddish-brown eyes; a short, hooked bill; a long, light gray, narrow tail; and short, rounded wings. It is slate gray on its uppersides and a lighter gray with darker bars on its undersides. It has a black cap on its head and white "eyebrows." Males and females look alike, but females are a little larger.


mapThe northern goshawk is found in most of the United States and Canada. It breeds from Alaska east Newfoundland and south New Mexico, the Great Lakes, and New England. In the winter, it is found throughout its breeding range south to New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. The northern goshawk is also found in the mountains in Mexico and in Northern Europe.


The northern goshawk lives in coniferous and mixed coniferous deciduous forests.


Northern GoshawkThe northern goshawk perches in trees and waits for prey like birds, rabbits, hares, and squirrels. It drops down on prey on the ground. It also chases birds through the forest and uses its tail to help maneuver through the trees. It may chase prey for up to 30 minutes! The northern goshawk also hunts in open fields. It takes its catch back to a perch and eats it.

Life Cycle

Northern GoshawkThe female northern goshawk lays 2-4 eggs in a nest of sticks that is placed high in a tree. The female usually does most of the nest building and the nest may be used for more then one year. The male brings the female food while she is incubating the eggs. He sometimes helps incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch in around 32 days. The male continues to bring the female and the chicks food after they hatch. The chicks fledge when they are around 35 days old. The male and the female care for and feed the chicks until they are about 70 days old. Male and female pairs may mate for more than one year.


Northern GoshawkThe northern goshawk aggressively protects its nest and attacks intruders, including humans!

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Tayler Brooks cc logo