In North America, goshawks inhabit most mature forests types west of the continental divide from Canada and Alaska through every western state into southern Mexico. East of the divide, they are largely restricted to southern Canada and the northern U.S.

While most hawks soar and dive over open meadows, streams, tundra, estuaries or coastlines, goshawks are more likely to be seen within forests, darting through the trees beneath the canopy. Over hundreds of thousands of years, they have developed short, powerful wings and protective eye tufts which enable them to fly (mostly unscathed) through the forest understory and canopy in pursuit of songbirds and squirrels. Their long, rudder-like tails gives them a acrobatic ability to spin around trees and quickly dive under nestlingsshrubs and brush. A subspecies called the Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi) has evolved to live within the dark rainforests of southeast Alaska, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island, and likely western Washington and Oregon. In the Southwest, a subspecies called the Apache Goshawk (A.g. apache) has evolved to live within the dry sunny forests of southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and the Sierra Madre in Mexico. The Northern Goshawk subspecies (A.g. atricapillus) inhabits the rest of the species' range.


graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
August 4, 2003
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