Species group: Birds of Prey
Other common names: Northern Goshawk
Scientific name: Accipiter gentilis
The Goshawk, North America's largest Accipiter, is a widespread forest species found in the Old World as well as the New. This large, strong, and highly maneuverable bird of prey has a long history in falconry, where it has been one of the most revered species for centuries if not millennia. In his classic, A Falconry Manual, Frank L. Beebe wrote, “It could be said humans rode out of the darkness of pre-history astride a horse with a goshawk or a saker on their left hands.”
Because of the licensing and expertise required to be a responsible owner of a bird of prey, the following information is offered only as a hint of what you will need to learn to work with Goshawks. There's no substitute for hands-on training, which we strongly recommend that you pursue before trying to acquire any bird of prey.
Goshawks are not rare, but they're tougher to see in the wild compared to many other Accipiters. They seem to prefer undisturbed forests, often in the north, where they can take advantage of the vegetation to provide cover and allow them to sneak up on their prey. They are versatile, capable of catching both birds and mammals. Indeed, these powerful hunters can even capture other raptors such as smaller Accipiters or even the smallest American falcon, the American Kestrel.
Like all Accipiters, Goshawks are relatively short-winged and long-tailed hunting hawks, but they stand out from their cousins, and not just because of their larger size. The adults have blackish heads with wide white “eyebrows” that emphasize fiery eyes that range in color from orange to red. Males are smaller than females. Average weights are given for a sample from North America, but European females may be even larger.
Male: 912 grams (32 oz.)
Female: 1,137 grams (40 oz.)
Male: 49 centimeter (19 in.)
Female: 58 centimeters (23 in.)
15 - 20 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Goshawk is highly prized for its intelligence and versatility, and it is the rare falconry bird that can capture a very wide variety of both winged and mammalian prey. It is also courageous and tenacious and has been reported to actually go into thick cover, on foot if necessary, in pursuit of its quarry. In ancient times, before the invention of firearms, it often kept the cooking pot filled, since it was willing to capture a variety of food suitable for its human owners, as well as its own appetites. However, this determined bird can be aggressive, and it is not recommended to the inexperienced.
Goshawks are hawks of higher elevations and northern latitudes, and they are well adapted to cooler climates. Because they are heavily coveted birds, it might be wise to invest in a good security system for the aviary. Like most other birds of prey, they will appreciate a water bath for bathing.
The Goshawk is a carnivore that needs to consume some whole prey in order to allow its digestive system to work properly. In the wild, this predator consumes a varied diet of both birds and mammals, and you should duplicate a varied diet in captivity, providing small rodents, day old chicks, quail, doves, rabbits and hares, and more. They should also be provided with water.
Written by Elaine Radford
great education bird, great falconry bird, raptor conservation, exceptional prowess
wild trapped bird
beautiful plumage, mentor professional falconer, hunting various game
Viciously aggressive, extremely powerful hawk with a penchant for violence
The goshawk has an exceptional prowess against larger quarry, like wild geese, cranes, rabbits, and ducks. It is also the most practical, utilitarian hawk or falcon to own, as goshawks are renowned for their productivity in hunting - in the Middle Ages, they were known as 'cook's hawks' because they brought more prey to the kitchen than any other bird. You can get a consistent food supply from these birds during ever season but winter, if you live in an area with abundant prey.
The goshawk is notorious for its ability to maim its owner. More than any other bird, I have scratches and gore-marks from the goshawk. This is because they live in areas where there are large amounts of predators - bears, wolverines, humans, and various other beasties of the forest go after goshawk nests - and goshawks fight viciously to defend their nest against these animals. This makes them one of the more dangerous birds, but they are actually not that difficult to train. They learn quickly, dropping prey at the falconer's feet within the first week of training. However, if you startle the goshawk, or if a dog or cat comes near it, or if anyone but you comes near it, you can expect blood to be spilled.
Overall, the goshawk is one of the most popular falconry birds because of its ability to hunt, but it's not good as a family bird..
From vintners Aug 10 2015 11:16AM
My male Goshawk Boy
The Goshawk is a bird of prey. It is a medium sized bird. The weight of these birds depends if it is a male or a female bird. The female is 20% larger than the male. I am a falconer from Bosnia & Herzegovina and in the past few years I had 8 Goshawks. 5 females and 3 males. My best bird was Boy. A male passage Goshawk. If you are interested in falconry and you want to know something about the goshawks read on.
To become a falconer you need to have a mentor (professional falconer) who will teach you the art of falconry. You need also a State licence to buy a bird. The goshawk is NOT a bird for beginners. This bird is hard to train. You need to start with a bird like the Common Buzzard or the Harris Hawk. For me the right bird for beginners. So the Goshawk is a unmerciful hunter. He don't know what "fear" is. The goshawk can catch different types of pray. You can hunt pheasants, crows, ducks, partridges, quails, squirrels and rabbits (but only females because she's much stronger than the male, the male can be killed by the rabbit).
The training is hard for beginners. You need to have all the equipment (bells, glove, falconry jesses, hood). You need to know the weight of the bird. It's hard to find the right weight because these birds only listen to the falconer when they are hungry. To much weight and the bird will not come to you and will not hunt. If the bird's too light the bird will not come to you or hunt because he can't fly. The bird is exhausted and hungry. The goshawk needs time to trust you and in the beginning it's very hard to feed them. My Boy took food in the first day when he came to me (but this doesn't mean all the birds are like this, some won't eat 5-7 days). I had a wonderful time with Boy. He learned so fast and the first free flight was after 3 weeks of training. I must say this was a wild trapped bird. DO NOT TRAP THESE BIRDS BECAUSE IT'S ILLEGAL IN SOME COUNTRYS. You need to have a licence to trap these birds.
You need to know that these birds are wild predators. They will NEVER be a sort of pets. You train them just for hunting. You must train these birds every day. So it's not a gun that you can put in a box after the hunting season. This is a live creature and you need to feed the bird every day. So better sit down and think do you have the time that these birds requires and do you have the right food to feed them.
These are the original pictures of Boy.
From velid_falconer Feb 12 2014 5:19PM