Northern goshawk

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The northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These northern goshawk species are distributed in North America, Asia and Europe.

Taxonomy of Northern goshawk

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter gentilis
  • Common Name: Northern goshawk
  • French: Autour des palombes; German: Habicht; Spanish: Azor comĂșn;
  • Other names: Falco gentilis Linnaeus, 1758;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Accipiter gentilis was earlier included in the genus Falco. It is closely related to A. henstii and A. melanoleucus. The ten recognized subspecies are: A. g. buteoides (Menzbier, 1882), A. g. albidus (Menzbier, 1882), A. g. gentilis (Linnaeus, 1758), A. g. schvedowi (Menzbier, 1882), A. g. fujiyamae (Swann & E. J. O. Hartert, 1923), A. g. arrigonii (Kleinschmidt, 1903), A. g. marginatus Piller & Mitterpacher, 1783, A. g. atricapillus (A. Wilson, 1812), A. g. laingi (Taverner, 1940) and A. g. apache van Rossem, 1938.

Indian birds - Image of Northern goshawk - Accipiter gentilis
Indian birds - Image of Northern goshawk - Accipiter gentilis


The northern goshawk is a medium sized bird of prey, measuring 45 to 65 cm in length and weighing 500 to 1,100 grams. The female goshawk is slightly larger and weighs 800 to 2,200 grams. These birds have short, broad wings and long tail. They are blue-grey above and are grey or white below. The chest and belly are barred. Adult goshawk have a white eye stripe. There are minor variations among the goshawk subspecies in eye color and level of grey or white coloration. Their call is a loud "kek-kek-kek" sound.


The northern goshawk species inhabit mature, deciduous and coniferous forests, preferring areas near clearings and the forest edge.

Feeding habits

The northern goshawk prey upon birds, small mammals and reptiles. They surprise the prey by diving and attacking the prey.


The northern goshawk breeding season is from early April to early June. A breeding pair will mate for life. The nest is built on a large, old tree. The nest is built with twigs and is lined with leafy twigs. A clutch may have up to five eggs. The female goshawk incubates the eggs and the male hunts and feeds the female and the chicks.


The northern goshawk is distributed in the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere including North America, Europe and Asia.

Movement Patterns

The northern goshawks are mostly sedentary in their habitats. The northernmost populations may move southwards during September and November and return in March and April.

Status and conservation

The northern goshawk global population is estimated to number more than 500,000 individual birds. These species of goshawks have an extremely large range and population and are considered least vulnerable. Persecution, deforestation, poisoning from pesticides and habitat loss are the main threat to the survival of these species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these goshawk species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Accipiter gentilis
Species:A. gentilis
Binomial name:Accipiter gentilis
Distribution:Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent and North America;
Feeding habits:small birds, small mammals, lizards and insects;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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Image author: Norbert Kenntner | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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