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Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Northern goshawk
Photo credit: Tomas Sereda @

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


Federal Status: Not listed; Northern goshawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.


Distribution: Uncommon. Breeds throughout NH.


Description: 20-26” long with a 40-46” wingspan. The largest North American accipiter. Both males and females have pale gray back and a belly that is pale gray and finely barred. Both have a dark blackish crown and cheek and a white stripe over the eye.


Voice: Mostly silent. Occasionally will wail or make brief varied notes.


Commonly Confused Species: Cooper’s hawk, gyrfalcon, and red-shouldered hawk.


Habitat: Mature softwood and mixed forests with dense canopies and open forest floors.


Nesting: Northern goshawks nest between April and May, often in the lower canopy of beech, birch, aspen or maple trees. Females typically lay 3-4 eggs. Incubation takes place for 36-38 days and chicks are able to fly after another 34-37 days.


Diet: Primarily small to medium sized birds and small rodents.


More Information: Northern goshawk profile in the NH Wildlife Action Plan PDF Document


Northern goshawk with prey

Northern goshawk with prey. Photo credit: Stanislav Duben @