The Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is the largest accipiter in North America. It’s scientific name refers to “the gentleman’s hawk” as these are far from a gentle hawk! The goshawk has 8 subspecies (or races) recognized globally, of which 2 are found in North America (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus and A. g. laingi) and both of these are found in Oregon. These large forest hawks are coveted by falconers, though few wild gohawks are taken in Oregon (5 in the last 10 years). In 1998, the USFS reported nearly 500 goshawk nests in Oregon. The Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan estimates that currently Oregon has roughly 7,000 Northern Goshawks in Oregon, or 3,500 pairs. Read more details about the ecology the Norhtern Goshawk in Oregon & Washington in this US Forest Service Report or more general information about the Goshawk provided by the Peregrine Fund.
To best understand the Northern Goshawk in falconry, you must first understand what the wild goshawks are capable of in the stalk, the pursuit, the chase, and the kill. Falconers learn best by watching raptors in the wild, and then doing their best to bring such feats into the cooperative hunt of raptor and human. Below are a selection of videos showing the power and the allure of the Goshawk. These videos are a rare treat in an otherwise elusive forest raptor!
Northern Goshawk – raising young in nest
Northern Goshawk – hunting squirrels in slow motion (Smithsonian)
Northern Goshawk – Grasping the Gray Ghost (US Forest Service)
Northern Goshawk – nest building to fledging in New Forest 2010
Northern Goshawk – nest building to fledging
Northern Goshawk plucking a collared dove in Germany
Northern Goshawk hunting and nesting in far north Japan