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Hot on the Trail: Northern Goshawk



Scientific Name: Accipiter gentilis

A powerful raptor of northern forests, the Northern Goshawk is the largest North American accipiter. Typically, northern goshawks are restricted to mixed wooded areas, but may be found in relatively open woods or along edges.


They hunt by silently perching on mid-level branches of trees, watching for prey, often moving from one perch to another. When prey is spotted, the hawk will attack with a short flight, putting on a great burst of speed, and often plunging through tangled branches and thickets in pursuit of their food. Northern goshawks mostly eat birds and small mammals; including many medium-sized birds, like grouse and crows. They will also eat squirrels, rabbits, snowshoe hares, small birds, snakes, and insects.


Some northern goshawks may remain through out the winter months in northern woods,  while others (especially young birds) move south. Sometimes large invasions move south of breeding range; this might possibly happen when prey is scarce in their northern range.


If you ever seen a pair of goshawks nesting be careful! These birds are very territorial and can become aggressive to humans and other animals by dive-bombing if you get too close!


-Ranger Rachel


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