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Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center
Northern Goshawk. Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center

The goshawk is the largest and most ferocious hawk species of the accipiter family; a family that includes two other species, the sharp-shinned hawk and Cooper's hawk. Although a species common to more northerly forests, the goshawk nests at a number of sites in southern Canada, where it prefers a tall, dense deciduous tree canopy with a relatively open understory. During winter periods of food scarcity, goshawks are occasionally drawn to city parks and suburbs to prey on pigeons. Pairs of goshawks return to their nesting grounds in early March, at which time they are rather easy to located due to their noisy territorial displays. By April, Goshawks become increasingly difficult to locate. That is, unless you come too close to a nesting pair. Nesting goshawks are known to become highly aggressive, and passing within 100 meters of a nest may provoke an attack from one of the parents!

Map of Northern Goshawk in Canada
Distribution of Northern Goshawk in Canada

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