Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Goshawk as Estonian Bird 2005


The goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), also known as the Northern Goshawk is an average-sized predator with a wingspan of more than one metre.It is the largest member of the genus Accipiter. The range of the goshawk is Eurasia and North America.

Plumage colour varies form grey in males to brownish in young and female individuals.The Northern Goshawk, like all accipiters, exhibits sexual dimorphism, where females are significantly larger than males. Males are 49–57 cm long with a 93–105 cm wingspan. The female is much larger, 58–64 cm long with a 108–127 cm wingspan. Males of the smaller races can weigh as little as 630 grams ,whereas females of the larger races can weigh as much as 2 kg .

The juvenile is brown above and barred brown below.Juveniles and adults have a barred tail, with dark brown or black barring. Adults always have a white eye stripe. In Europe and Asia, juveniles also have pale-yellow eyes, however adults develop orange-coloured eyes.

This species hunts birds and mammals in a variety of woodland habitats, often utilizing a combination of speed and obstructing cover to ambush birds and mammals. Goshawks are often seen flying along adjoining habitat types, such as the edge of a forest and meadow; flying low and fast hoping to surprise unsuspecting prey. They are usually opportunistic predators, as are most birds of prey. The most important prey species are small mammals and birds found in forest habitats.

The Estonian name of the bird, kanakull, only bears in mind domestic hens as its prey, its menu ranges from black grouse to jays, partridges, squirrels and rabbits. Attacks at domestic fowls become more frequent in the autumn and winter, when food is short in the woods

The bird builds its nest in mature and old growth coniferous forests that have rapidly dwindled in territory due to logging. The goshawk is superbly suited to this environment, navigating at great speed through the forest understory and canopy in pursuit of songbirds and squirrels. There are 2 - 4 young in a hatch. Over the past decade its population in Estonia has contracted by nearly a half to just half a thousand couples. 2005_318_fdc

The flight is a characteristic "flap flap, glide", but is sometimes seen soaring in migration, and is capable of considerable, sustained, horizontal speed in pursuit of prey.


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