Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Northern Goshawk (Autour des palombes)

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Waterloo, ON
6 August 2014

     We were alerted to this bird by five American Crows Corvus branchyrynchos who were harassing it, somewhat half-heartedly we thought, but the goshawk stood its ground.

     As we saw it fly into this tree we were immediately struck by the grandeur of this large, powerful accipiter. It was clearly bigger than the largest female Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii that I have ever seen. Given the time of year and the fact that raptors are well into their migration I suspect that this may be a juvenile bird.

     Except at migration points this species is seldom encountered and it is several years since I have seen one. My most vivid encounter with Northern Goshawk occurred many years ago near Dorset, ON when I unwittingly strayed into the nesting territory of a pair and I was attacked instantly. Both male and female dived at me, screaming their warning. I beat a hasty retreat and once I crossed the invisible line of their territorial boundary they left me alone. 
     A pair nested at the Ken Reid Conservation Area in Lindsay, ON during the time when I was Chairman of the Friends of Kawartha Conservation and we had to close off a whole area of the trails due to the ferocity of the attacks upon visitors. The pair bred successfully and once the young had fledged trail walkers were able to resume their hikes in peace.

     It was without doubt the highlight of a pleasant afternoon of birding for both Miriam and me.


  1. So nice to see a special bird like that. Doesn't happen often.

  2. Oh yes, beautiful images of the Accipiter gentilis. Bravo!
    Warm regards

  3. Hello David,
    Beautiful pictures of the Northern Goshawk.
    Picture 2 and 3 are my favorite.
    Well photographed.

  4. One person has expressed the opinion that this is a Cooper's hawk. Let's wait for more opinions!

  5. After a careful review of the literature I now believe that this bird is a Cooper's Hawk - a big, robust female. I will leave the post as is, however, so that everyone can appreciate that everyone is mistaken from time to time.

  6. A beautiful bird! We get swooped by birds here in Australia but they are mercifully smaller than a hawk! That would certainly have been an alarming encounter.