Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis

adult male
Steve Young/VIREO
adult female
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult male
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
immature male
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile male
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
Richard Crossley/VIREO
Richard & Susan Day/VIREO
Doug R. Herr/VIREO
Northern Goshawk


20-26" (51-66 cm). W. 3' 6" (1.1 m). A robust hawk with a long narrow tail, short rounded wings, and bold white eyebrow. Adults blue-gray above with a black crown; pale underparts finely barred with gray. Young bird similar in size and shape, but brown above, streaked below.


Loud kak-kak-kak-kak-kak when disturbed.


alarm calls #2
juvenile calls #1
alarm calls #2


Breeds in coniferous forests; winters in farmlands, woodland edges, and open country.


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.


This big raptor is mainly a resident of mountainside coniferous forests. It is fearless in defense of its nest and will boldly attack anyone who ventures too close. It has recently begun extending its range to the South and now breeds in small numbers in deciduous forests.


3 or 4 white or pale bluish eggs in a large mass of sticks lined with fresh sprigs of evergreen and placed in a tree.

Similar Species

adult, Florida

Red-shouldered Hawk

16-24" (41-61 cm). W. 3'4" (1 m). A large, long-winged hawk with white barring on dark wings, rusty shoulders, pale underparts barred with rust, and narrowly banded tail.

adult, gray morph


22" (56 cm). W. 4' (1.2 m). The largest of the true falcons. 3 color phases occur: blackish, white, and gray-brown.

adult male

Cooper's Hawk

14-20" (36-51 cm). W. 28" (71 cm). A crow-sized hawk, with long tail and short rounded wings. Adult slate-gray above, with dark cap, and finely rust-barred below.

adult female

Sharp-shinned Hawk

10-14" (25-36 cm). W. 21" (53 cm). A jay-sized, fast-flying hawk with a long, narrow, square-tipped tail and short rounded wings. Adult slate-gray above, pale below, with fine rust-colored barring.


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