It is a widespread species that inhabits the temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. In Europe and North America, where there is only one goshawk, it is often referred to (officially and unofficially, respectively) as simply the "Goshawk". It is mainly resident, but birds from colder regions migrate south for the winter. In North America, migratory goshawks are often seen migrating south along mountain ridge tops in September and October.
The Goshawk is the largest member of the genus Accipiter. It is a raptor with short, broad wings and a long tail, both adaptations to manoeuvring through trees in the forests it lives and nests in.
In flight, they may look like Kestrels but aren't as slim in build and have a bulkier head.
In Eurasia, the male is sometimes confused with a female Sparrowhawk, but is larger, much bulkier and has relatively longer wings.
The Goshawk's voice is a rapid kekekekeke which varies in length.
Food and huntingEdit
This species hunts birds and mammals in a variety of woodland habitats, often utilizing a combination of speed and obstructing cover to ambush birds and mammals. Goshawks are often seen flying along adjoining habitat types, such as the edge of a forest and meadow; flying low and fast hoping to surprise unsuspecting prey. They are usually opportunistic predators, as are most birds of prey. The most important prey species are small mammals and birds found in forest habitats.
Prey species may be quite diverse, including pigeons and doves, woodpeckers, corvids and passerines (species vary by region). Mammal prey includes rabbits and numerous tree squirrel and ground squirrel species. Waterfowl up to the size of the Mallard are sometimes preyed on. Prey is often smaller than the hunting hawk, but these birds will also occasionally kill much larger animals.
In the spring breeding season, Goshawks perform a spectacular "undulating flight display", and this one the best time to see this secretive forest bird. At this time, the surprisingly gull-like call of this bird is sometimes heard. Adults defend their territories fiercely from intruders, including passing humans. Other raptors are also attacked at nest sites, and often cede territory to, or are themselves killed by the aggressive Goshawk. The Goshawk is considered a secretive raptor and rarely observed even in areas where nesting sites are common.
Adults return to their nesting territories by March or April and begin laying eggs in April or May. Territories often encompass a variety of habitats, however the immediate nest area is often found in a mature or old-growth forest. The clutch size is usually 2 to 4, but anywhere from 1 to 5 eggs may be laid. The eggs average 59 ×45 mm (2.3 ×1.8 in) and weigh about 60 g (2.1 oz). The incubation period can range from 28 to 38 days. The young leave the nest after about 35 days and start trying to fly another 10 days later. The young may remain in their parents' territory for up to a year of age.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Goshawk was extirpated in the 19th century because of specimen collectors and persecution by gamekeepers, but in recent years it has come back by immigration from Europe, escaped falconry birds, and deliberate releases. The Goshawk is now found in considerable numbers in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, which is the largest forest in Britain. The main threat to Goshawks internationally today is the clearing of forest habitat on which both they and their prey depend.