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Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)



  • The northern goshawk is one of the largest hawks, measuring 58 centimetres (23 inches) long.


  • It is distinguished by its size, grey-blue under parts, and white eye stripe. The upper parts are a dark slate blue and the crown is black.
  • In North America the goshawk's range extends from central Alaska east in the woodlands to the Atlantic and south to Mexico. Breeding takes place in the northern areas and winters are spent in the southern portion of the range.
  • The encroachment of human civilization has forced the goshawk into more remote parts of Alberta.
Natural History


  • The goshawk is most often found in the Rocky Mountain, foothill, boreal forest and parkland natural regions associated with heavily wooded areas.


  • Goshawks are efficient forest predators, feeding on game birds, rabbits and various rodents. Near farms they often take poultry and can be a persistent problem.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behavior

  • Nesting usually occurs in tall trees; three to five bluish white eggs are laid in a nest of twigs lined with bark.
Conservation and Management


The northern goshawk is classified as Sensitive in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See the Status of the Northern Goshawk in Alberta report at:


  • Human encroachment on nesting habitat may be reducing the population in the boreal forest.

Current management

Like all raptors in Alberta, the northern goshawk is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.


Page Information

Posted: Oct 14, 2009