Plants and Animals

Accipiter gentilis Northern goshawk

species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
David Cuthrell

Key Characteristics

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:
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona92012
Alger72014
Alpena12006
Antrim32002
Bay12002
Benzie22001
Charlevoix22018
Cheboygan82002
Chippewa162016
Clare12001
Crawford52012
Delta112016
Dickinson12005
Gogebic52007
Grand Traverse22007
Iosco82012
Iron92006
Kalamazoo11998
Kalkaska12007
Lake62013
Luce32011
Mackinac122016
Manistee82011
Marquette12002
Mason42005
Menominee52012
Midland22001
Montcalm12002
Muskegon12000
Newaygo72011
Oceana51999
Ogemaw12003
Ontonagon62012
Oscoda122011
Otsego32007
Schoolcraft62016
Tuscola12008
Wexford132011

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.

Habitat

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.

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 Recommendations

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.

Active Period

Migration from fourth week of February to fourth week of March

Nesting from fourth week of March to third week of July

Migration from fourth week of August to third week of December

Survey Methods

A standard survey methodology for this species is to broadcast a goshawk call with a tape recorder or CD player 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

References

Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • Cooper, J.L. 1999. Special Animal Abstract for Accipiter gentilis (Northern goshawk). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.