Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)


French: Autour des palombes German: Habicht Spanish: Azor común

Falco gentilis


, 1758,

(Swedish) Alps


Traditionally thought to form species-group with A. henstii, A. melanoleucus and possibly A. meyerianus. Internal taxonomy somewhat confused. American races may merit treatment as distinct species#R; recent phylogenetic study suggested that atricapillus is as distinct from nominate gentilis as A. melanoleucus is from latter#R. Separate races have been awarded to birds from W & C Europe (gallinarum) and from Spain and N Africa (kleinschmidti), but these of doubtful validity, as at least some of variation clinal; several other dubious races described. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. g. gentilis (Linnaeus, 1758) – Eurasian Goshawk – Europe (except NE & SE) and N Morocco.
  • A. g. buteoides (Menzbier, 1882) – extreme N Eurasia from N Sweden E to R Lena; winters S to C Europe and C Asia.
  • A. g. albidus (Menzbier, 1882) – NE Siberia to Kamchatka.
  • A. g. schvedowi (Menzbier, 1882) – S Urals E to NE China, Amurland, Sakhalin and Kuril Is, S to Himalayas and C China; winters S to SE & E Asia.
  • A. g. fujiyamae (Swann & E. J. O. Hartert, 1923) – Japan.
  • A. g. arrigonii (O. Kleinschmidt, 1903) – Corsica and Sardinia.
  • A. g. marginatus Piller & Mitterpacher, 1783 – Italy and Balkans E to Caucasus and N Iran.
  • A. g. atricapillus (A. Wilson, 1812) – American Goshawk – North America from Alaska E across C Canada to N Quebec, Labrador and Newfoundland, S to SW USA (N Arizona and N New Mexico) and, in E USA, to Wisconsin, W Virginia and Maryland.
  • A. g. laingi (Taverner, 1940) – Queen Charlotte Is and Vancouver I (British Columbia), in W Canada.
  • A. g. apache van Rossem, 1938 – SW USA (Arizona, SW New Mexico) and W Mexico (to Jalisco and Guerrero).
  • Descriptive notes

    46–63 cm; male 517–1110 g, 677–1010 g (gentilis, atricapillus), female 820–2200 g, 758–1210 g (gentilis, ... read more


    Near nest, adults give series of loud chattering notes: "kek-kek-kek-kek-kek....". Begging... read more


    Mature woods, particularly coniferous, but also deciduous or mixed coniferous-deciduous; mostly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small and medium-sized birds and mammals, up to size of grouse, even capercaillies and hares; other vertebrates normally of minor... read more


    Laying from early Apr–early Jun. Solitary; neighbouring pairs normally several kilometres apart, rarely less than 1 km. Nests in... read more


    Mainly sedentary; partially migratory in northernmost populations of North America, Fennoscandia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Significant decline in Europe during 19th century and part of 20th, mainly due to persecution and deforestation; subsequent... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 12 December 2019).