The Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentiles) is an uncommon to rare nester in BCR 14. It nests in the interior of pine, hemlock or mixed mature forest. It is sensitive to disturbance during the courtship and nesting season (March through the end of July). Its numbers are apparently increasing. The goshawk appears on the Species of Greatest Conservation Need list in one or more states in BCR 14.

Habitat Needs

Goshawks will nest on the lower limbs, close to the trunk, or in a crotch of beech, birch, pine or hemlock. The nests are usually located at the bottom of the canopy layer. It prefers mature forests with large trees and open understories.

Its home range is about a square mile and the territory it defends during nesting season ranges around 15 acres.

Habitat Management Practices

Aim to maximize the mature component for oak-pine, hemlock or mixed-wood forests. These birds are sensitive to disturbance so limit management activity to fall and winter seasons around known nesting locations.

When assessing properties for habitat potential for this hawk, look for soils that will produce hemlock, oak-pine and mixed-wood. Soils to consider in Important Forest Soil Groups IC include Adams, Colton, Croghan and Deerfield. Soils to consider in Important Forest Soil Groups IB include Acton, Canton, Chichester, Gloucester, Hermon Monadnock, Sunapee and Waumbek. There are others in these categories depending on where you are in BCR 14.

Silvicultural Practices

  • Consider extending rotations in hemlock, oak-pine and mixed-wood (hardwood/hemlock) stands to provide larger trees for nesting.
  • Conduct periodic light maintenance cuts to maintain the larger tree with an open understory characteristic needed for this species. 

Additional Information