Photo by Tim Kimmel
Length: 19 - 25 inches
Wingspread: 39 - 43 inches
Weight: 1.8 - 2.3 pounds
The northern goshawk is the largest raptor found in coniferous woodlands. It is a
fast, skilled flyer and can weave through the forest with amazing agility. With a fierce
disposition, it is willing to take on the most challenging prey. Goshawks are handsome
birds with slate-gray backs and light-gray breasts with fine horizontal barring. They have
a distinct white supercilium or eyebrow, and by their fourth year their eyes are dark red.
In North America, goshawks inhabit conifer dominated mixed woodlands from Alaska,
through Canada into the mountains of western United States and Mexico. Many are resident
in their breeding territories but a few will migrate southward for winters. When Rocky
Mountain grouse and hare populations crash some birds must move into other areas to find
food, including the Great Plains. The northern goshawk is a rare winter visitor to Kansas
but there are scattered records throughout the state.
Goshawks are powerful, aggressive predators that take ptarmigan, grouse, rodents,
hares, rabbits, squirrels and medium-sized birds. They mainly hunt from a perch but will
chase persistently when necessary.
Other Kansas Hawks
Text: Bob Gress and Vanessa Avara
Web Design: Jim Mason