• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Northern Goshawk


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A powerful raptor of northern forests, the Northern Goshawk is the largest North American accipiter. It maneuvers through dense woods, taking prey as small as squirrels and as large as grouse, crows, and snowshoe hare.


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Large hawk.
  • Long tail.
  • Broad, rounded wings.
  • Dark cap and stripe through eye.
  • White eyebrow stripe.
  • Gray belly.
  • Blue-gray back.

Immature Description

Brown above and heavily streaked below. Back with some white or cinnamon streaks and white spots. Tail dark brown with jagged dark bars. Underparts whitish with broad dark brown streaks. Pale eyebrow stripe usually visible on brown head. Eyes yellow.

Range Map Help

Northern Goshawk Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Northern Goshawk

    • Large, barrel-chested accipiter
    • Adults slaty gray above, paler on breast with dense barring
    • Frosty white eyebrow contrasts with black crown and cheek patches
    • © Extrud, June 2013
  • Adult

    Northern Goshawk

    • Large, frosty gray accipiter
    • More buteo-like than other accipiters because of large size and bulky structure
    • Dense barring on otherwise pale-gray breast
    • Bold white eyebrow and glaring red eye on adults
    • © Ronald Kube, Alberta, Canada, May 2009
  • Immature

    Northern Goshawk

    • Large, bulky accipiter
    • Heavily streaked with thick, blotchy markings from breast to undertail
    • Barrel-chested
    • Uneven tail bands
    • © Raymond Lee, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, December 2010
  • Immature

    Northern Goshawk

    • Large and barrel-chested for an accipiter
    • Very heavily marked below with thick, smudged streaks
    • Uneven tail bands
    • © Alex Rptr, Mt. Pinos , California, August 2011

Similar Species

  • Gray morph


    Gray morph
    • Wings longer, more pointed than Northern Goshawk
    • Dark mustache stripe
    • Barring on tail not obvious
    • © Raymond Lee, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, February 2012
  • Immature

    Cooper's Hawk

    • Smaller and lankier than Northern Goshawk
    • Breast streaking not as heavy and dense
    • Tail bands more evenly spaced
    • © Gerry Dewaghe , October 2008

Similar Species

  • Cooper's Hawk is smaller and lacks a distinct eyebrow stripe. Adult Cooper's with reddish chest. Juvenile Cooper's tail evenly barred.
  • Gyrfalcon has more direct flight and slower wingbeats, longer and more pointed wings, and two-toned wing pattern with light flight feathers contrasting with darker wing linings.

    You Might Also Like

    H is for Hawk, Living Bird, Autumn 2014.



    Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
    bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

    The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.