South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

Length: 19 - 27 inches Wingspan: 40 - 48 inches Seasonality: Winter / All Seasons
ID Keys: Black face with white eyebrow, gray barring below (on mature birds)

Northern Goshawk - Accipiter gentilisNorthern Goshawks are large and bold hawk of the forests. Like the other Accipiters, they are able to pursue prey in rapid and highly maneuverable flight. Numbers of Northern Goshawks may come well south of it's normal range in the winter if prey populations are low.

Habitat: Forests. Usually in forested areas, but may be found along edges or open areas. Prefers conifer to mixed forest, but may be in any forest type in winter.

Diet: Feeds on wide variety of birds, including ducks, grouse, and crows, as well as small mammals such as squirrels, snowshoe hare, lemmings, and rabbits.

Behavior: Hunts from a perch, using a quick burst of speed to pursue and catch prey that comes within range. 

Nesting: Mid March through June

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Northern Goshawk Call.  

Migration: Some migration southward in winter from normal range in Canada, New England, and the U.S. Rockies.  Some permanent residents in the Black Hills.

Similar Species: Juveniles can be difficult to distinguish from Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk, although adults are usually distinctive, with the gray barring underneath.

Conservation Status: Populations may be increasing and ranges expanding, especially in the northeastern United States.  In other areas, loss of habitat is resulting in local declines.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Goshawk

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Northern Goshawk"

3) eNature.com: Northern Goshawk

Photo Information: January 26th, 2002 -- Newton Hills State Park -- Terry L. Sohl

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view 
Northern Goshawk - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare winter visitor throughout the state. Rare permanent resident in the Black Hills.