8 Interesting Facts About The Northern Goshawk


I have never seen aNorthern Goshawk. A look at one at the hawk watch is a rare thing. If you see one flying by, be sure to take a second look as it may take a lot of patience before you see another one.

I have a lot to learn about the Northern Goshawk. Here is some of the information that I have picked up so far:

  • The Northern Goshawk is considered a secretive raptor, and is rarely observed even in areas where nesting sites are common.
  • Northern Goshawks sometimes cache prey on tree branches or wedged in a crotch between branches for up to 32 hours. This is done primarily during the nestling stage
  • In the spring breeding season, Northern Goshawks perform a spectacular “”undulating flight display””. This is one of the best times to see this secretive forest bird. At this time, the surprisingly gull-like call of this bird is sometimes heard.
  • Northern Goshawk adults defend their territories fiercely from intruders, including passing humans.
  • The name “”goshawk”” is a traditional name from Anglo-Saxon gōshafoc, literally “”goose hawk””. The name implies prowess against larger quarry such as geese, but Northern Goshawks were also flown against crane species and other large water birds. The name “”goose hawk”” is somewhat of a misnomer however, as the traditional quarry for goshawks in ancient and contemporary falconry has been rabbits, pheasants, partridge, and medium sized waterfowl
  • The Northern Goshawk has remained equal to the Peregrine Falcon in its stature and popularity in modern falconry.
  • Goshawk hunting flights in falconry typically begin from the falconer’s gloved hand, where the fleeing bird or rabbit is pursued in a horizontal chase. The goshawk’s flight in pursuit of prey is characterized by an intense burst of speed often followed by a binding maneuver, where the goshawk seizes its prey in an inverted position below its winged quarry.
  • The goshawk, like other accipiters, shows a marked willingness to follow prey into thick vegetation, even pursuing prey on foot through brush

The chart below shows the numbers of Northern Goshawks that have been counted at the Picatinny Peak, Raccoon Ridge, Scott’s Mountain, Sunrise Mountain, and Wildcat Ridge hawk watches in Northwest New Jersey.

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