Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk


Profile Northern Goshawk     Literature page Northern

[order] Falconiformes | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter gentilis | [UK] Northern Goshawk | [FR] Autour des palombes | [DE] Habicht | [ES] Azor Norteño | [IT] Astore comune | [NL] Havik

Havik determination

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A fairly large hawk with a long tail, rounded wing tips, and a conspicuous pale eyebrow; adult has dark crown, blue-gray back, white underparts with dense gray barring, and conspicuous fluffy white undertail coverts; immature is brown above, buffy below, with dense blurry streaking, undertail coverts are dark-streaked, and tail has wavy dark bands bordered with white and a thin white tip; total length is 53-66 cm, with females averaging lager than males

During winter the species inhabits a fragmented landscape of forests, clearcuts, wetlands and agricultural lands. Whereas non-forested habitats is only used if large patches of forest are not available.

During breeding both heavily forested with high density of large trees with high canopy; and relatively open habitats both in upland and lowland.

Accipiter gentilis is a widespread resident across most of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is large (>160,000
pairs), and increased substantially between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in several countries during 1990-2000, these were more than compensated for by positive trends elsewhere-notably in the Russian stronghold-and the species underwent a moderate increase overall.
Widespread across Europe apart from England, Ireland and parts of central France. Germany has between 15000-30000 pairs. Russian population 70000-100000 Turkish population 100-1000.
Relatively abundant and widespread in Nearctic and Holarctic; population trends are difficult to determine; no hard evidence of a significant decline in recent decades, but probably declining in some areas primarily as a result of habitat alteration (especially logging), which can be expected to continue; effectiveness of forest management guidelines in providing adequate protection remains to be determined.

Forages during short flights and with brief prey searches from perches. Also hunts by flying along forest edges, across openings, and through dense vegetation in fast gear. The Goshaek, preys on a wide variety of vertebrates and, occasionally, insects. Prey is taken on the ground, in vegetation, or in the air. Dominant prey include tree anf ground squirrels, ground squirrels, and rabbits. Preys also on birds like grouse, crows, woodpeckers and passerines. During the nesting season, the diet can vary with prey availability. For example, as more fledgling passerines become available, they make up a greater portion of the diet.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 1,000,000-10,000,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001). Global population trends have not been quantified, but populations appear to be stable (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001) so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

Usually one clutch produced per year, from late April through early May. Clutch is typically two to four eggs, rarely one to five. Eggs are laid every two to three days and incubation usually begins after the second egg is laid. Incubation, conducted principally by the female, takes 28-38 days, hence hatching is asynchronous.

Brooding and feeding of nestlings is performed principally by the female, the male brings food to the nest. The young begin flying at 35-42 days and become independent at about 70 days after hatching. The Goshawk maintains one up to eight alternate nests within a nest area. The next pair is an average three kilometers apart.

Mainly sedentary; partially migratory in northernmost populations of North America, Fenno-Scandia and Russia. Scale and extent of movements dictated by cycles of prey abundance in Arctic regions. Irruptions occur roughly every decade in North America, with birds reaching South USA and North Mexico. In Fenno-Scandia, movements far less extensive, not normally involving more than a few hundred kilometers. Migrants leave N areas mainly in October-November, returning to breeding zones in March-April.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 93 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 127 cm
  4. size min.: 49 cm
  5. size max.: 64 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 35 days
  8. incubation max.: 38 days
  9. fledging min.: 35 days
  10. fledging max.: 42 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 2
  13. eggs max.: 5
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Havik status Least Concern


  1. Accipiter gentilis apache
  2. sw USA, nw Mexico
  3. Accipiter gentilis laingi
  4. islands of British Columbia (sw Canada)
  5. Accipiter gentilis atricapillus
  6. North America (except sw Canada, sw USA and nw Mexico)
  7. Accipiter gentilis arrigonii
  8. Corsica, Sardinia
  9. Accipiter gentilis marginatus
  10. Italy and the Balkans to Caucasus and n Iran
  11. Accipiter gentilis gentilis
  12. c and n Europe
  13. Accipiter gentilis fujiyamae
  14. Japan
  15. Accipiter gentilis schvedowi
  16. ne Asia to c China
  17. Accipiter gentilis albidus
  18. ne Siberia
  19. Accipiter gentilis buteoides
  20. n Eurasia
  21. Accipiter gentilis
  22. NA, MA, EU widespread
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