Resident Raptor - Northern Goshawk
Newton Acquired from a breeder in Colorado, Newton was only 4 weeks old when he arrived at the Eugene airport on July 1, 2013. Captive bred and hand-raised as a human imprint, he is highly socialized to people. This species, like all the accipiters (the forest hawks), tend to be high stress birds. They rarely come into rehabilitation, as they tend to prefer not to live near people, and do not easily transition to captivity, if non-releasable. A popular bird in falconry for thousands of years, the Northern Goshawk is most often taken as a nestling even by falconers. Newton was housed overnight with staff for his first few weeks with us, introduced to dogs, cats, and other birds, met lots of people from the beginning, and even went to an exercise class... in order to desensitize him to things that might be otherwise alarming. He did his first program before he could fly!
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
The largest of the forest hawks and is considered to be "rare to
uncommon" over most of its range. It is the least size dimorphic of the accipiters and the smallest male goshawk, in juvenile plumage, can be
difficult to distinguish from a large female Coopers hawk. However, in adult
plumage, the "grey ghost" is uniformly grey on the back, with a dark grey to
black grey cap on its head, a white, pronounced eyebrow over the eye, and
distinguished feathery pin-striping of grey-black on pale grey/white on the
front. The undertail coverts are white, often quite fluffy, and the tail
itself is dark grey above with inconspicuous broad, dark bands; the tail
often has a thin white terminal tip. Like other accipiters, the eye color
changes from yellow in immatures to orange or red in the adult birds. This
aggressive bird is capable of taking a wide range of prey - crashing
straight into and through brush on a chase. It has a well-earned reputation
of defending the nest from all intruders, including humans. The short,
rounded wings and long rudder-like tail of this bird, like the other
accipiters, are well designed for quick maneuvering through its forest
||21 - 23"
||22 - 26" ave.
||40 - 44"
||43 - 47"
||1.4 - 2.7 lb.
||1.5 - 3.0 lb.
Status - State and federally protected, the
goshawk has come up for consideration for listing under the Endangered
Species Act, causing some controversy but to date failure to list. The
bird's large territories, solitary habits, and somewhat limited migrations
make it very difficult to monitor for population trends.
Habitat - Varies; some preference exists
for mature forest, at least for nesting; it will forage in open areas. Dense
canopy is one of the most uniform requirements of nest stands, as this may
reduce predation and, along with the placement of nests along a northern
exposure, provide a cooler microclimate for the young. Small forest openings
may serve as pathways, provide open country prey.
Diet - Varied, as the goshawk is an
opportunistic feeder; prey items range from hares and rabbits, to tree
squirrels, large perching birds, woodpeckers, game birds, crows and ravens.
Occasional reptiles and large insects. Percentage of each type of food
varies with region and availability; one study in Oregon demonstrated 42%
mammalian prey and 59% avian, but it can range from 82%/18% to 32%/58%.
Hunting style is also varied from perch-and-pounce, with short flights
between perches; to coursing along forest edges, across openings and through
vegetation to surprise prey; to even stalking prey on foot, using ground
features for cover.
Call - Usually silent, but can be vocal
during courtship and nesting; may vocalize when chasing prey. Calls are
similar to other accipiters, but louder and fuller, with a ki-ki-ki-ki
or kak, kak, kak alarm call and several different wail calls.
Nesting - Builds or refurbishes a stick
nest used previously, usually in the tallest tree in a stand; nests in most
forest types found throughout its range and at all elevations. In the
eastern deciduous forests, goshawks nest in mature hardwood/hemlock stands.
In the west, nests are more likely to found in pines or firs, though will
nest in aspen or birch if those are the dominant trees.
Most Common Problems - not frequently
presented to rehabilitation centers as tends to stay away from human
settlements; logging of nest trees, gunshot.