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Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis


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Northern Goshawk
credit: Norbert Kenntner/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly gray-brown upperparts; pale underparts are finely barred with gray. Legs are yellow and eye is orange. JUVENILE Has brown upperparts; buffy underparts are marked with dark, teardrop-shaped spots. Eye is yellow and supercilium is pale.

Dimensions Length: 20-26" (51-66 cm); Wngspn: 3' 6" (1.1 m)

Habitat Widespread, but not common, favoring mature forests.

Observation Tips Displaying birds are obvious in spring; otherwise secretive and encountered by chance.

Range California, Great Lakes, Alaska, Northwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Plains, Texas, Eastern Canada, Western Canada

Voice Utters a harsh kie-kie-kie at nest; otherwise silent.

Discussion North America's largest accipiter (Buteo-sized). Feeds on medium-sized birds and mammals, caught in agile surprise attacks. In flight, broad, rounded wings and relatively long, broad and barred tail are noticeable. Fanned tail (seen when soaring) looks rounded, with striking white, fluffy undertail coverts. Close view of perched bird reveals differences from appreciably smaller Cooper's: large head and striking pale supercilium, and pale gray (not rufous) underparts. Sexes are similar; female is larger than male.