Our five-year search for a NORTHERN GOSHAWK nest came to a successful conclusion today! I know it has been five years since we began the search because we came onto the birding scene in central Oregon just after the loss of the famous Goshawk nest at Calliope Crossing, near Sisters Oregon in 2011. This is a link to a news story about the loss of the nest that is appropriately titled Loving Wildlife to Death, By Jim Anderson, a long-time naturalist from the area.
The first few years I searched tirelessly - then reality set in and I figured I should be happy with periodic distant views of the bird flying by one hawk watch station or another. But on a hike today, Jill queued me into the faint screams of juveniles, and after a cross-country scramble over steep terrain, we were rewarded with a great view of two young birds. One looking as if it had just fledged.
Okay - enough about me. Here are a few things you might not know about this impressive species.
(*) It is the largest of the three North American accipiters, the Goshawk is a powerful hunter capable of killing a variety of prey, including tree squirrels, hares, grouse, corvids, woodpeckers and large passerines such as American Robins.
(*) When breeding, the female generally defends the nest while the smaller male provisions the family with food.
(*) As an aggressive North American hunting hawk, Goshawks eagerly crash through brush when capturing prey or readily strike intruders approaching their nests.
(*) Currently, the species is not listed as Endangered in U.S. but there is concern that timber harvest and human encroachment are reducing some populations.
(*) Habitat preferences of Goshawks when foraging in various forest types are poorly understood. We do not know how changes in landscape pattern and habitat structure affect foraging behavior and habitat selection; our ability to predict potential impacts of habitat alterations to prey populations is limited.
(*) The average incubation period for each egg is 32 days.
To provide context to the discussion about the size of this species, I've added the picture below of a Goshawk after it was banded last year at the Bonney Butte Hawk Watch Station, near Mt. Hood Oregon.
This bird was treated with care for its safety but also for the safety of those handling it. The reason for the latter is pretty obvious if you ask me.
Squires, John R. and Richard T. Reynolds. 1997. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/298 doi:10.2173/ bna.298 (Paid Subscription Required)
While this observation has been one of the more exciting experiences of my short birding life, it has also brought discomfort because of my desire to share observations with responsible birders, and my belief that if I share the location of this nest with one person, that act will ultimately result in many more than just the two of us knowing its whereabouts. So I've decided to take every precaution against being the person responsible for the potential collapse of this nest in the future due to human activity.