The Northern Goshawk can be seen almost year round in forests and urban woodland areas, but only during autumn and winter on the Nansei islands. Roughly the size of a crow, females are slightly larger than males. While it preys mostly on medium-size birds, it will also hunt large birds as well as mammals such as rabbits or martens. During the breeding season, it makes a repetitive call “quek-quek-quek” or a short “pyeer.”
Play birds singing
During the time when poaching of Northern Goshawk was prevalent, stuffed or mounted birds were sold for a high price, and since the bird was used in falconry, goshawk chicks were also taken from the nest. Compared to the situation at that time when earnest conservation initiatives were being developed across the country, poaching has declined and there are areas where opportunities to see Northern Goshawk in the wild have increased. Confirmation of the breeding of the Northern Goshawk along with the Common Kestrel and the Japanese Sparrowhawk in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area has given rise to discussion about the influx of raptor species into urban areas.
Until now the Northern Goshawk has been designated as a Domestic Endangered Species and has played a role in preventing the overdevelopment of urban woodland areas. Although the designation was removed in 2017 due to a population increase, the Northern Goshawk is a symbol of a rich woodland ecosystem. We should continue to watch over it in these areas.
The wings of raptors in flight usually look longer than those of a crow. Only the Northern Goshawk and the Japanese Sparrowhawk have wings shorter than a crow, but the shorter wings along with long tail feathers are suited to hunting birds in wooded environments. Long wings are unsuitable for pursuing a bird through dense vegetation. And, short tail feathers would not be sufficient for effective braking and maneuverability.
While the characteristic of females being larger than males is the tendency among hawks, falcons and owls, the reason for this is not well understood. Some people believe that since raptor species have an inherently aggressive character, the male might kill the female if it became aggressive during mating, so it is better for the female to be larger than the male; however, there are also some who believe that the difference in prey hunted by males and females is beneficial in the raising of chicks. Since chicks need to be kept warm when they are small, the female remains in the nest while the male goes out to hunt. Due to its small size and agility, the male hunts frequently for small prey that is easy for the chicks to eat when they are small. When the chicks become larger the female is also able to go out hunting, and since the prey she brings back is fewer in number but comparatively larger in size, the chicks receive a supply of food suited to their growth.
The top part (top of head, shoulders to tail feathers) is gray but depending on light conditions it can look subtly blue.
Juvenile has brown coloring with noticeable vertical patterning on front part from breast to belly (Front of adult is white and patterned with thin horizontal bars).
Canon sites where this bird is seen