NORTHERN GOSHAWK(Accipiter gentilis) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Northern Goshawk has a long tail and short wings.  The upper parts are grey-blue and there’s a dark grey cap in adults, with a white eyebrow. The eyes are dark orange-red in adults, and yellow in juveniles. Adults have finely barred light grey under parts. Juveniles have brown vertical streaks on light grey under parts, and their upper parts are brown with white spots and edges. The tail is barred. The bill is grey and the talons are yellow. As for other predatory birds, females can be up to 25% larger than males, for an average of 65 cm (26 inches) long. About ten subspecies have been identified.
NAME: The English name comes from ‘Goose Hawk’, due to its reputation as a good hunter. However it’s a misnomer because this predator’s diet does not include geese, but rather crows, jays, grouse, and mammals such as hares and squirrels. The Latin name ‘Accipiter’ means ‘to grasp’, and ‘gentilis’ refers to its history as a bird of choice for nobility falconers.
HABITAT:  The northern goshawk hides in mature forests, and hunts along the edges. It will have a ‘plucking’ spot near its nest where it eats its prey.
DIET: Wide range of animals – birds including jays, woodpeckers, crows and grouse, reptiles, mammals including rodents, insects, even carrion.
NESTING: The nest is built in a tree close to the trunk, and is made of sticks on the outside, and lined with finer materials on the inside. About 3 light blue eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. The male brings food to the female, including after the eggs hatch, and she’s feeding it to the chicks. Parents, especially the female, aggressively defend the nest.
DISTRIBUTION: This bird of prey is widespread across the northern hemisphere, where it is a year-round resident in most of Canada up to the tree line, and the western part of the USA. Its permanent range also includes most of Europe and temperate Asia. In North America, its wintering range covers mainly the Prairies.
ON PEI: Although the northern goshawk breeds on Prince Edward Island and is a year-round resident, its occurrence on the island is uncommon throughout the year.
CONSERVATION: Because of its widespread range and its relatively large numbers, this raptor is currently not considered at risk. However it is difficult to correctly estimate their populations due to its secretive habits in large tracts of forest. Northern goshawks can be disturbed by logging operations. On the other hand, capture of wild individuals for falconry does not appear to impact its population.
NOTES: The Northern Goshawk is a fearsome bird of prey that pursues its targets for a long distance if needed.  Its body shape allows it to skillfully maneuver into the canopy, and to crash through shrubs to seize a prey in its powerful talons.
The northern goshawk was prized in falconry for over 2,000 years for its skillful hunting, and is still being used by falconers.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Red-shouldered Hawk, also the Sharp-shinned Hawk – the juveniles’ color pattern can make it difficult to distinguish the two latter species.
REFERENCES: (Maritimes Breeding Birds Atlas)

Northern Goshawk juvenile - Dunedin, PEI - Feb. 11, 2019 - © John Read
Northern Goshawk juvenile. back view – Dunedin, PEI – Feb. 11, 2019 – © John Read
Northern Goshawk, juvenile - Dunedin, PEI - Feb. 11, 2019 - © John Read
Northern Goshawk, juvenile – Dunedin, PEI – Feb. 11, 2019 – © John Read
Northern Goshawk, adult - Berlin, Germany -Mar. 2006 - Norbert Kenntner
Northern Goshawk, adult – Berlin, Germany -Mar. 2006 – Norbert Kenntner
Northern Goshawk, juvenile - Berlin, Germany - July 2005 - Norbert Kenntner
Northern Goshawk, juvenile, front view – Berlin, Germany – July 2005 – Norbert Kenntner