Animals

Hawks of Temperate Deciduous Forests

The Eurasian sparrowhawk and the northern goshawk are birds of prey that can be found in temperate deciduous forests - forests in which trees lose their leaves during the year.

The European sparrowhawk lives in temperate and subtropical parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is extremely common in European forests.

The northern goshawk can be found in temperate areas of the northern hemisphere.

Eurasian sparrowhawk, photo by Christian KnochBoth birds prey on smaller forest birds.

The European sparrowhawk can often be found hunting garden birds as well.

The northern goshawk will sometimes attack rabbits and hares.

Northern goshawkHunting

Both of these hawks rely on stealth to hunt successfully.

The hawk will sit silently on a perch, under the cover of trees, waiting for its next victim.

It will then glide low to the ground, until it spots its prey.

Suddenly, under the cover of trees or hedgerows, the hawk will dart towards the prey and grab it with its talons.

The hawk will usually take its victim to an old tree stump, anthill or old nest platform, where it will pluck the feathers off with its beak.

It will then tear the meat to pieces with its talons.

Courtship and Breeding

The mating season begins earlier for these hawks than it does for many other birds.

From February onwards, European sparrowhawks begin soaring and circling above nesting woods.

In the second half of March, the high circling displays reach their maximum intensity. Courtship displays now often include bounding undulations above the woods.

Northern goshawks stake out territories even earlier.

Soon after the new year, the female northern goshawk begins to make a harsh, chattering cry.

Female European sparrowhawks and female northern goshawks take a dominant role in mating.

Females tend to stay in their nesting territories throughout the year.

When mating season begins, the female makes the first move to attract a mate.

The northern goshawk begins laying eggs in the beginning of April. The European sparrowhawk starts laying eggs about three weeks later.

The northern goshawk usually lays three to four eggs, while the European sparrowhawk lays five to six eggs.

Females incubate the eggs while the males hunt. The males feed the females once or twice a day.

At the end of the breeding season, males and females go their separate ways.

The female remains in her nest, while the male moves on.