Birds of North America Home Page

Field Guide for all the Birds of North America

American Goshawk

Autour des palombes

Accipiter gentilis

Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities


Species: The American Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is the largest member of the accipiter family seen in North America. Similar in size to buteos, feeds on larger prey, such as grouse, ducks, rabbits and maybe even geese if given the opportunity, as well as smaller birds. The female is very protective around her nest and may attack humans if one approaches too close. It can sometimes be seen soaring quite high in the sky when in the search of prey.

Distinctions: Adults are similar in appearance, the female being the larger of the two. Mature birds have bluish to slate-coloured backs, fine markings on breast, checkered wings when seen flying. Long tails with visible banding, wide wings which aids in gliding, red-coloured eyes, head has a bold supercilium. Juveniles, being of similar size to the adults, brown plumage, streaking on breast, heavier in nature when compared to a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.

Voice: Rapid call notes, sounds something like "kek, kek, kek".

Nesting: Two to three bluish off white eggs, one brood per year. Nest built in mature trees, high above the ground. Built from branches, sticks, twigs, leaves and softer materials.

Birds of North America
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  • Birds of North America
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Life, Habitat and Pictures of North American Hawks

B L W W W Family Latin Name
21" 53.3cm 41" 104.1cm 2.1lb. 0.95kg Accipitridae Accipiter gentilis

North American Bird Calls

  1. Tap to hear Choice 1

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter
range map

Distribution: Found throughout the North American forests, from Newfoundland to Alaska, south to Mexico and east across the northern half of the US states. Prefers to nest in the northern regions, will follow prey to the southern gulfs when food becomes scarce. Although widespread, it is not considered a commonly seen hawk because of its smaller numbers and its habitat of hunting mostly in treed areas.

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds