[CT Birds] Goshawks - problems and pitfalls

julian hough jrhough1 at snet.net
Fri Oct 24 09:37:02 EDT 2014

We are getting into that time of year where well-manned hawk watches begin to see the occasional Northern Goshawk. They are a late migrant, generally occurring in late October into November - all reports are typically of juveniles and not adults (I've never seen an adult away from the breeding grounds in CT). 

Our in-state watchpoints (Lighthouse Pt. and Quaker Ridge) are manned everyday, all day, at this time of year and there are few reports of Northern Goshawk. The math is easy. Goshawks are obviously very uncommon. 

Goshawks are a big buteo-like bird, almost frightening in size and impressive to see both during breeding and in migration. They are also frequently misidentified. The time-honored identification pitfall being big Cooper's Hawk, and it is these birds that you are likely to see in at Hawkwatches in September; in your backyard, attacking birds at your feeders; or just hanging out at Hammonassett in winter. Could you see a Northern Goshawk in September, in your backyard, or at Hammonasett in winter. Sure, it's possible…but really, it's just a big Cooper's Hawk. 

We've all made that mistake, been spooked initially by that huge female Coop's, but when you see a Goshawk at Lighthouse, it's often a case of "You know it when you see it" scenario. 


Julian Hough 
New Haven, CT 06519 

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