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Northern Goshawk

"Goshawk" originated as a shortened version of "goose hawk" or "grouse hawk."

Other name: Chicken hawk, "Gos"

Hunting habits: Takes hares, rabbits, gray squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, weasels, ducks, grouse, quail, pheasants, crows, smalls hawks, owls, woodpeckers, blackbirds, jays, grasshoppers, and moth and beetle larvae. One study in Pennsylvania and New York found that red squirrels and common crows were the main prey of goshawks. In Minnesota goshawks rely heavily on Ruffed Grouse and snowshoe hares.

Migrating habits: Although there are some exceptions (like one Goshawk banded at Hawk Ridge that was recaptured at Yorktown, Saskatchewan, a month later) goshawks migrate southward to the mid-central states. In most years, only a portion of the population leaves the breeding range. However, during cyclic lows of grouse and hare populations (approximately every 10 years) goshawk "invasions" occur; food shortages force a much larger portion of the population to migrate south.

Nesting habits: Both sexes build the nest; female does most of the incubating, feeding young, and defending the territory. There are usually 3-4 eggs, which hatch after 36-38 days. Young first leave nest when 41-43 days old, and begin flying a few days later.

Length: 46-62 cm

Wingspan: 98-115 cm

Weight: females average 1059 grams; males 816 grams. In the world of raptors, females are bigger, stronger, and usually more aggressive than males.

Life expectancy: A 13-year old Goshawk originally banded at Hawk Ridge was recovered in northern Alberta. A falconer's goshawk lived in captivity almost 19 years.

Click here to see raptor statistics at Hawk Ridge