Fun Northern Goshawk Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Nov 17, 2022 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Natalie Rayworth
Fact-checked by Tehil David
northern goshawk facts about the North American birds of prey

Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is a large medium raptor. They are also known as true hawks.

In Latin, accipiter means 'a hawk' and gentilis means 'to be gentle' or 'noble'. During the middle ages only the noble or royal folks were allowed to fly the goshawks from the falconry.

This species of family accipitridae are found in the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, both in North America and Eurasia. This North American bird species is the second most widely distributed hawk of the true hawks family, only behind the golden eagle.

Northern goshawks are mainly resident birds, but the birds from the northern colder region may migrate to the south during the winter. Northern goshawks have short, broad wings and a long tail.

Compared to other accipiter, it has a sizable bill, longer wings, and a comparatively shorter tail along with robust shorter legs and thick toes. These North American birds are mostly found in blue gray tones or brownish-gray tones with a dark barring or streaking over a whitish or gray base color.

Northern goshawks found in the northern region are paler in comparison to the birds found in the south.

After reading these interesting northern goshawk facts, do check our other articles on peacock and metallic starling as well.   

Northern Goshawk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern goshawk?

Northern goshawks are a type of bird belonging to the true hawk family. They are found in the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Northern goshawks are found in North America and Eurasia.

What class of animal does a northern goshawk belong to?

Northern goshawks belong to the aves class of animals. These North American birds are residents of the deciduous and coniferous forests in the northern hemisphere.

How many northern goshawks are there in the world?

The current world population of northern goshawks would exceed one million individuals. Their population is stable and increasing in North America. However, their numbers may be declining in Europe due to illegal practices like shooting, trapping, poisoning and also habitat loss.

Where does a northern goshawk ​live?

Northern goshawks are found in the dense forests of Northern America and Eurasia. The forests could be deciduous or coniferous. Northern goshawks are not migratory birds and they prefer to stay in the same region as their nesting.

They have a large distribution in Eurasia, excluding countries like Iceland and Ireland. Northern goshawks are found in some regions of western Europe which includes Great Britain, France and Spain.

In other countries, they are pretty widespread. These North American birds are found in most of Russia’s treeless Tundra region, and up to the western side of Siberia. You can spot a northern goshawk in Corsica, Morocco, Sardinia, Italy, Turkey,  Greece, China,  the Himalayas, some parts of Tibet, and Japan.

In North America, goshawks are found in Canada, the United States, and Alaska. The breeding grounds are found in the Rocky Mountains and other hilly regions from Washington, California, Texas and Colorado. Northern goshawk species can also be found in a certain region of New Mexico, Arizona, and western Mexico.

The breed can be watched in New York, New England, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In very limited numbers, they are found in Ireland, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia as well as Iran, India and Pakistan.  

What is a northern goshawk's habitat?

Northern goshawks have adapted well to deciduous and coniferous forests. Adult goshawks prefer old-growth trees with a dense canopy and minimal undergrowth.

In Europe, this bird of prey can be found in fairly urbanized regions with small woods, shelter-belts, copses and isolated trees. These hawks can also found nesting in mountainous tree lines. They need a tree to live as they are not found anywhere but these places.

Who do northern goshawks live with?

Northern goshawks are mostly found living alone or in pairs. These birds of prey are highly territorial and maintain a regularly spaced home range.

How long does a northern goshawk ​live?

The lifespan of this bird varies in the wild. If the juvenile birds survive the first two years of their life, they can live up to 11 years. In many Northern European countries, the population decline of the goshawk has been due to starvation. In captivity, this bird may live up to 27 years.

How do they reproduce?

Northern goshawks will return to their breeding ground between March and April. The female goshawks will attract the males by showing off with dramatic aerial displays, vocalizing or perching in the nesting area during the breeding season.

Once a mate is found, these birds of prey will construct or repair the nests. During the breeding season, the pairs will mate many times a day, sometimes as many as five hundred times for a single clutch.

They are monogamous. They breed only once a year and start preparing their nest as early as two months before laying eggs.

Their nests are usually located in old-growth forests on the trunks of a medium to a large tree near a road, swamp or meadow. The nests are made with dead twigs, leafy green twigs, or bunches of conifer needles and pieces of bark.

The female goshawk will lay a clutch of two to five eggs, which are laid at an interval of two to three days. The eggs are bluish-white in color with a rough texture.

The female will mostly incubate the eggs for between 28 and 38 days. Occasionally the male will take her place so that she can hunt and eat.

The parents will feed the fledglings until they are 70 days old. The female will not leave the nest at all for 25 days after hatching.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status for northern goshawks is of the Least Concern as their population is stable and increasing. These birds of prey are ace predators and can be easily located in regions with their preferred prey like snowshoe hares, shrews, mice and rabbits. Hence no significant efforts are required for their conservation at present.

Northern Goshawk Fun Facts

What do northern goshawks ​look like?

Northern goshawks are definitely gentle or noble-looking birds. These birds of prey have a distinctive white grouping of feathers which is located above their eyes.

The northern goshawk red eye color is quite unique for the aves class. The feather color of the adults ranges from slate blue to black. Their back, wings and heads are usually darker, and their undersides are white with fine gray horizontal stripes.

Their wings are light gray with three to four dark bands. The juvenile goshawks are brownish in color with a white underside and vertical brown streaking on it.

Northern goshawk females are larger than the males.

How cute are they?

Northern goshawks are considered royal in regards to their looks and temperament. They are shy and solitary creatures who prefer to stay by themselves or in pairs. They are not so cute but are absolutely regal-looking. A northern goshawk in flight is a remarkable sight to behold.

How do they communicate?

Northern goshawks are big on vocalization like other recipients. They are vocal during nesting and courting. Both the male and female goshawk make varied sounds. Females are known to make deeper and louder sounds while males make higher, less powerful sounds.

This bird species has specific calls or wails. The younger ones may use a whistle sound to call for food. They also make a high-pitched twitter when they are well fed. These adults make a recognition wail while entering or leaving their nests.

How big is a northern goshawk?

Northern goshawks are larger than the Eurasian sparrowhawk and Cooper’s hawk, they also have broader wings. The females are larger and heavier than males. Their average size is 19-24 in (48-60 cm) and wingspan is 35-41 in (88-104 cm).

How fast can a northern goshawk fly?

They have short bursts of speed due to their long tails and short wings that are very powerful. This bird species will remain in one position when they are ready to attack their prey, and travel through the forest in short flights.

How much does a northern goshawk ​weigh

Northern goshawks weigh between 1.4-3.1 lb (0.6-1.4 kg). The females are heavier than the males.

What are the male and female names of the species?

These birds do not have a specific name for the male and female species. Hence, the males and females are known as male northern goshawk and female northern goshawk respectively.

What would you call a baby northern goshawk?

The immature northern goshawk baby is called a fledgling at the time of hatching. Later on when they start growing, the young ones will be known as juvenile northern goshawks.

What do they eat?

Being birds of prey, northern goshawks hunt and eat their food. Northern goshawk birds are known to eat a variety of species depending on what they can find in the region they're in.

Goshawks hunt and eat birds, mammals, invertebrates, and reptiles of medium sizes. They can attack a prey roughly half their weight. Their diet also includes snow-shoe hares, red squirrels, ground squirrels, spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, blue grouse, and many other varieties of animals, birds and reptiles.

Are they aggressive?

Northern goshawks are considered to be the most aggressive American raptors, especially if these North American birds are around their nests. Their aggressive approach is related to their shyness.

Would they make a good pet?

These raptors were used in falconry practicies in the olden days, and also were used by the royals and noblemen. Adults are shy and prefer their natural habitat, and they may turn aggressive towards humans as they don’t like being bothered.

Did you know...

They are considered as management indicators in many forests as they are sensitive to change, and their well-being is indicative of the habitat changes and problems associated with it.

If you compare northern goshawk vs Coopers hawk, you will be able to see that the northern goshawk is relatively large in size when compared to a Cooper's hawk.

How do I identify a northern goshawk?

Northern goshawks are slate gray or blue colored, with pale gray barred underpants. These raptors have a relatively darker colored head with a stripe of white over one eye, and their pupils are red or reddish-brown in color. They are shy creatures normally found in thick forests.

How does the northern goshawk help the environment?

These raptors are an important predator of the ecosystem, especially to small mammals and bird populations. They also host many internal and external parasites like lice, cestodes, and trematodes. They are important to control the population of small pests.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including hoopoe, or wandering albatross.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Northern Goshawk coloring pages.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

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Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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Fact-checked by Tehil David

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Tehil David picture

Tehil DavidBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Tehil David Singh is a fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in English literature from St.Xavier's College, Palayamkottai, and a Master's degree in Philosophy, and Religion from Madurai Kamaraj University. He has a passion for writing and hopes to become a story writer in the future. Tehil has previously interned in content writing and has been a content creator for the last three years. In his personal life, he enjoys singing, songwriting, performing, and writing stories.

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