Plants and Animals
Accipiter gentilis Northern goshawk
The Northern goshawk is a large forest bird with long broad wings and a long tail which is rounded on the end. Upperparts of the adult are brown-gray to slate gray. The head has a black cap with a pronounced white eyeline. Underparts are light gray with fine horizontal vermiculations and vertical streaks. Undertail coverts are white, showy, and quite fluffy, especially during the breeding season. Immature birds are heavily streaked below and the undertail coverts are spotted. The goshawk may also be identified by its call which is a sharp and repetitive "ki ki ki" or "kak kak kak".
Status and Rank
US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable
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Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.
Northern Goshawks utilize a wide range of forested habitats ranging from boreal forests to northern hardwoods and occasionally pine plantations. In Michigan, goshawk nests occur most often in deciduous trees such as aspen, birch, beech, and maple and less frequent in conifers such as white pine, red pine, and jack pine.
Natural Community Types
- Boreal forest
- Dry northern forest
- Dry-mesic northern forest
- Floodplain forest
- Hardwood-conifer swamp
- Mesic northern forest
- Northern hardwood swamp
For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.
Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.
Management practices that maintain moderate canopy closure, preserve large trees for nesting, and conserve large contiguous blocks of hardwoods or mixed forest stands should benefit this species.
Migration from fourth week of February to fourth week of March
Migration from fourth week of August to third week of December
Nesting from fourth week of March to third week of July
A standard survey methodology for this species is to broadcast a goshawk call with a CD player (or other electronic device) in suitable habitat during the breeding season.
Broadcast conspecific call
Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of June
Time of Day: Daytime
- Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.
- Cooper, J.L. 1999. Special Animal Abstract for Accipiter gentilis (Northern goshawk). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.