Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to blue, nest stained with brown spots

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

36 - 41

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

20 - 75 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with bark strips, evergreen sprigs, grass, and feathers.





Northern Goshawk: Large hawk with slate blue-gray to nearly black upperparts and very finely barred and streaked pale gray underparts. Head is dark with thick, white eyebrows and red eyes. Tail is paler gray with three or four dark bands. Sexes are similar, although female is usually larger. Juvenile is browner overall with bright yellow eyes.

Range and Habitat

Northern Goshawk: Found in much of the northern hemisphere, from near the timber line in the north to as far south as sub-tropical regions; northern birds migrate during winter. In North America, this species ranges from Alaska and northern Canada to northern California, along the Rocky Mountains, and east to the Mid-Atlantic states. Preferred habitats include dense coniferous and deciduous forests.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Goshawk: Three or four brown spotted, white to blue eggs are laid in a nest made of dead twigs, lined with leafy green twigs, conifer needles, and pieces of bark, and built in a large tree. Incubation ranges from 36 to 41 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Goshawk: Eats birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates: takes relatively large prey, weighing up to one-half as much as itself.


Northern Goshawk: Makes a harsh "ca-ca-ca." When perched, turns head from side to side, seemingly throwing its voice. Female gives a plaintive scream of recognition when male approaches nest.

Similar Species

Northern Goshawk: Cooper's Hawk is smaller, has a rufous chest, and lacks white eyebrow. Juvenile shows a more evenly barred tail and white undertail coverts. Gyrfalcon has more pointed wings with darker wing linings.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X