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Northern Goshawk - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies A. g. atricapillus
Photo © by fuzzhead
Richland, WA, USA
Accipiter gentilis


46–63 cm (18-25¾ in) Robust bird

  • Long narrow tail
  • Short rounded wings
  • Bold white eyebrow


  • Blue-grey above
  • Black crown
  • Pale underparts finely barred with grey

Immature Brown above and streaked below


Juvenile of subspecies A. g. atricapillus
Photo © by digishooter
Kern County, CA, USA, August 2011

In America, breeds from Alaska east through Mackenzie and northern Quebec to Newfoundland, and south to New Mexico, Great Lakes, and New England; also southward to northern Appalachians. Winters south to Virginia and Southwest.

A widespread species in the Western Palearctic breeding from Iberia east to the Black Sea and Caucasus and north to northern Scandinavia and Arctic Russia.



Juvenile of subspecies A. g. fujiyamae
Photo © by stoop
Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan, October 2009

There are 8 subspecies[1]

  • A. g. gentilis:
  • A. g. arrigonii:
  • A. g. buteoides:
  • A. g. albidus:
  • North-eastern Siberia to Kamchatka Peninsula
  • A. g. schvedowi:
  • A. g. fujiyamae:
  • A. g. atricapillus:
  • A. g. laingi:
  • South-western Canada (Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island)

Subspecies A.g. apache (Sierra Madre Occidental Mexico to SE Arizona and SW New Mexico USA; Maderas del Carmen? Mexico) is not recognised by all authorities[1]


2nd year juvenile, in moult, subspecies gentilis
Photo © by lovejoy
Derbyshire, March 2017

Deciduous or coniferous woodland interspersed with open areas. Often over more open country in winter.



They often sit upright, with a hip-heavy outline. They fly at tree-top level with slow wing-beats interspersed with short straight glides.


Their diet consists mostly of small and medium sized birds and mammals, even capercaillie and hares.


They nest high in a tree, about 10-15 m up. They often re-use the nest.


Usually silent, sometimes lets out a loud kak-kak-kak-kak-kak when disturbed.

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  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved March 2017)
  4. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

Recommended Citation

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