top of page

NORTHERN GOSHAWK

WINGS OF MAJESTY FROM THE NORTHERN GOSHAWK

NORTHERN GOSHAWK

Overview

The Northern Goshawk, a formidable bird of prey, is a notable resident of the Mule Mountains in Bisbee, Arizona. Known scientifically as Accipiter gentilis, this raptor is admired for its agility and prowess in hunting. The Mule Mountains provide an ideal habitat, offering dense forested areas that are crucial for the goshawk's nesting and hunting practices.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Appearance

Northern Goshawks are medium to large-sized hawks, with adults typically measuring between 18 to 24 inches in length and sporting a wingspan of about 40 to 46 inches. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with females being noticeably larger than males. These birds possess a robust body, broad wings, and a long tail, essential for maneuvering through densely wooded habitats.

Plumage and Identification

The plumage of the Northern Goshawk is characterized by a slate gray back, a lighter gray or white underside with fine dark barring, and a distinctive dark head with a stark white eyebrow stripe. Juveniles display a brownish coloration with streaked underparts. Their piercing red eyes are a hallmark feature in adults, while juveniles have yellow to orange eyes.

Habitat and Behavior

Habitat

In the Mule Mountains of Bisbee, Northern Goshawks prefer dense forest areas, often dominated by conifers and mixed woodlands. These environments offer ample cover and a rich supply of prey. The rugged terrain and varying altitudes of the Mule Mountains create an ideal setting for these birds.

Hunting and Diet

As adept predators, Northern Goshawks primarily feed on a variety of small to medium-sized mammals and birds. Their diet includes squirrels, rabbits, woodpeckers, and grouse. They are known for their sudden, swift attacks, often surprising their prey.

Nesting and Reproduction

Northern Goshawks are monogamous and are known to use the same nesting area for several years. Nests are usually built high in large trees and are constructed out of sticks. Breeding pairs lay 2 to 4 eggs annually, with both parents involved in incubating the eggs and raising the young.

Conservation Status

In Arizona, and specifically in the Mule Mountains, the Northern Goshawk is a species of concern due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Conservation efforts focus on preserving and managing forest habitats to ensure the sustainability of this species.

Interaction with Humans

In Bisbee and the surrounding Mule Mountains, Northern Goshawks are often admired by birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. However, they are known to be fiercely protective of their nests, leading to potential conflicts with human activities, especially during the breeding season. It's important for locals and visitors to respect their habitat and observe these majestic birds from a safe and ethical distance.

bottom of page