Wednesday, 5 February 2014

166. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Northern Goshawks are very widely distributed across Europe, being resident throughout except for right up in the far north of Scandinavia; in a few patches of southern Europe they are only found in winter. In the UK they are quite widely distributed but are hard to find due to their shy and secretive nature! They breed in thick, mature, often coniferous forest and it can be easiest to see them in early spring when they engage in acrobatics during their courtship flights. Appearance-wise, they can be hard to tell apart from Sparrowhawks, especially when the size is difficult to judge - Goshawks are larger, the females almost the same size as Common Buzzard. Goshawks and Sparrowhawks are a similar shape, and have a similar flight, but when Goshawks glide between flaps they don't lose height unlike Sparrowhawks; their flight is also a bit more leisurely, and they are more likely to soar at great heights. Goshawks' tails are proportionately shorter than Sparrowhawks' and have rounded corners where the Sparrowhawk's are squared. The photo is of a juvenile, I chose it because I liked the pose - looks kind of hesitant! The adults are quite similar in appearance to one another, apart from the size difference - both with blue-grey upperparts, fine barring below, a white supercilium and a fierce orange eye!

Northern Goshawk, ©poecile05 via Flickr Creative Commons.
Northern Goshawk painting.
The feathering on the wing is a bit of a bodge, but I think the rest is OK.

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