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Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk, Vancouver Island, BC
Northern Goshawk, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo Copyright By Sean McCann

The Northern Goshawk lives in the coastal forest regions of the Pacific Northwest. This goshawk prefers coniferous forests, but will also live in deciduous and mixed forests from sea level to subalpine areas. This bird can also be seen in urban forested parks.

This hawk mainly hunts small to medium-sized mammals and birds. Goshawks often hunt at the forest edge from a hidden perch. Prey is usually caught on the ground.

The birds are monogamous, and the pair will mate long term. The nest is made from thin sticks and branches, lined with bark and vegetation, is usually built in a major crotch in a tree, up to 20 meters above the ground. The female is the nest builder in the family, and the nest may be reused for many years, the nests can become quite large. The male will bring the female her food before, during, and after she begins to lay eggs. The female lays up to 4 eggs and incubates them for around 32 days. The male continues to bring food and may take over incubation for short stints while the female stretches her wings and hunts for a quick meal. Once the young hatch, the female broods constantly for up to 14 days. The male provides all food, he gives it to her, and she feeds it to the young. Nestlings venture out of the nest to nearby branches at around 35 days and take their first flights shortly after that. The parents continue to feed the young until they are about 70 days old. Both birds will aggressively defend the nest, attacking any interloper, including humans.

While Northern Goshawks have been expanding their range in some areas of the Northeast in recent decades, many populations are still considered threatened or endangered. Logging is the greatest threat to Northern Goshawks in the Pacific Northwest.

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