* * * Look for our Connecticut State of the Birds 2016 Report in November! * * *

What’s New

Northern Goshawk: Bird Finder for October 18, 2016

If you read and loved Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (or even if you didn’t), you might be wondering, “How do I see one of those amazing Northern Goshawks?”. It’s not that easy but in this week’s Bird Finder Nick Bonomo explains how (hint: visit a hawk watch this fall).

goshawk_northern_norbertkenntnerNorthern Goshawk
Accipter gentilis

by Nick Bonomo
What it looks like:
The Northern Goshawk is the largest member of the genus Accipiter in North America. Most closely related to the smaller Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, this bird combines features of both, but in a bigger, meaner package; all three are superbly built to hunt and eat smaller birds. Adult goshawks are very distinctive. Their combination of gray upperparts, white underparts that are finely barred, and a very strong white-and-dark head pattern is unique among local raptors. The largest females are as large as Red-tailed Hawks.

Immatures, however, pose an infamous identification problem. They appear brown and streaky like many other young hawks. Immature Cooper’s Hawks are very commonly mistaken for the much rarer Northern Goshawk. At this age, look for the bird’s bulky proportions; Cooper’s Hawk looks lankier and thinner-bodied than the robust goshawk. A Northern Goshawk’s wings have longer secondaries than a Cooper’s, which gives the wings a bulge along the trailing edge in flight while giving the impression of a broader-winged bird overall. Also note the density of the streaking below, as Goshawks are heavily streaked while Cooper’s have thinner streaks thus appear paler below.

Where and when to find it: Unlike the more suburban Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk is a forest-dwelling species that tends to be much more reclusive than its smaller Accipiter cousins. If you’re exceedingly lucky, you may come across a goshawk in or near dense woodland at any time of year. They are known as ferocious nest defenders, so if you accidentally enter a goshawk’s territory during the spring breeding season you may find yourself running back to your car with a screaming hawk hot on your tail.

The very best way to see a Northern Goshawk in Connecticut, however, is by visiting a hawk watch during late autumn. Anytime from now through early December, with a peak in November, you might see a goshawk migrating at such famous locations as Lighthouse Point in New Haven or Quaker Ridge in Greenwich. Typically only a handful are seen each autumn at either location, nearly always immatures, which goes to show how uncommon they really are.

Northern Goshawk (Juvenile), Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

Conservation status: Since the Northern Goshawk is the most widely distributed Accipiter in the world, occurring on four continents, it is consider a species “of Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, locally, the goshawk is susceptible to habitat loss via forest clearing and fragmentation. North American populations appear to be stable.

Photos from Carolinabirds.org: Norbert Kenntner, top, and Elaine R. Wilson.

Print Friendly





Annual Report 2016: A Celebration of Membership

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-8-56-50-amOur 2016 Annual Report celebrates our members and volunteers, with almost two dozen interviews about their experiences with Connecticut’s birds and natural areas.

Alex Kearney, a new member in 2016, generously contributed the cover photo.

 Click here to find the report. After you’ve read it, we invite you to read the entire interviews.





Coastal Center is Open but the Boardwalk to the Beach Remains Closed Because of Damage

Updated on Monday, October 10, 2016 – The Coastal Center is open and visitors can enjoy the grounds, the garden, […]

>>

News Release, Sept. 1: Connecticut Audubon Names New Interim Director at its Center at Glastonbury

Renovations Underway to Improve the Building and Outdoor Aviary September 1, 2016 – The Connecticut Audubon Society is embarking on […]

>>

Cruise the Connecticut River for the Swallow Spectacular!

Swallow Spectacular Boat Cruises Thanks for joining us on the 2016 Swallow Boats. Reservations available online now for 2017. Reserve early! September […]

>>

Smith Richardson: A Neighborhood Sanctuary for Greens Farms, Southport, and the Rest of Westport and Fairfield

July 21, 2016 – You may have noticed changes recently at the H. Smith Richardson Wildlife Preserve, on Sasco Creek […]

>>

What to do with “Abandoned” or “Orphaned” Wildlife

This is the time of year when people want to help baby birds by bringing them to us. However the […]

>>

Osprey Cam

The Ospreys have left for the season. We look forward to welcoming them back in late March or early April! […]

>>

The 6-Minute Guide to Helping Connecticut’s Ospreys

>>

Creek Critters: Use Our New Mobile App to Learn if Your Stream is Healthy

May 19, 2016 – The Connecticut Audubon Society has launched a new mobile app designed to help Connecticut residents – […]

>>

Events Near You

  • October 25, 2016 8:00 am - Weekly Bird Walks Center at Pomfret

Press Releases

Click here to read news from Connecticut Audubon Society

CT Audubon Society Nature Q&A

Top of Page