Species Assessment For Northern Goshawk (Accipiter Gentilis) In Wyoming
Author(s):Publication Date: 2004-02
Douglas A Keinath
Tags: BLM, WLCI Agency Report, WLCI
The Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis, Linnaeus 1758) is a diurnal raptor (Family
Accipitridae) of temperate forests and woodlands. The genus Accipiter is representative of closely
related hawks noted for long tails and relatively broad wings, well suited for pursuit of prey in
dense forests. Once commonly known as “bird hawks”, (Craighead and Craighead 1956) the genus
is well known for aerial pursuit of avian prey, however, the diet of accipiters is very diverse.
Reliant upon explosive acceleration and adept maneuverability, the Northern Goshawk is a
predator of birds and small mammals throughout its range. The species has proven to be highly
influenced by cyclical abundances of prey species in any season.
The species inhabits temperate, montane and boreal forests of the Holarctic. In the western
hemisphere two, possibly three subspecies are extant throughout the range. A smaller recognized
supspecies of western Canada (A.g. laingi) breeds on Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands.
Resident birds in the forests of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico into the Mexican
highlands of the Sierra Madre display clinal variation in size and color that may constitute a third
North American subspecies (A. g. apache). The Northern Goshawk (A. g. atricapillus) is rare, yet
widely distributed, from Alaska, throughout Canada, New England, the Great Lakes states, South
and West through the Rockies and mountain ranges of the pacific states. The Northern Goshawk,
subspecies atricapillus, is a resident breeder and short distance migrant in the state of Wyoming,
and the focus of this species assessment.