Goshawk , a bird of prey of the family ful-conidoe, subfamily accipitrinoe, and genus astur (Lacep.). The bill is short, broad at the base, with the culmen elevated and arched; the tip acute, with the lateral margins festooned in the middle; the nostrils large and in the basal cere; wings reaching to the middle of the tail, the third, fourth, and fifth quills nearly equal and longest; the tail long and broad; tarsi rather longer than middle toe, covered with broad transverse scales in front and behind; toes long, strong, and well padded below; claws strong, long, and curved. Gray describes 13 species, which are found throughout the world. The form is rather long and slender, the wings comparatively short, and the legs and tail long; they fly very swiftly and strongly, and always strike their prey while on the wing; they lurk about poultry yards, seize a duck or a chicken, and are out of shot before the farmer is aware of his loss; they also prey upon wild ducks, grouse, pigeons, hares, rabbits, squirrels, and other animals of this size; they build their nests on lofty trees, and lay from two to four eggs. The only species in the United States is the American goshawk (A. atricapillus, Wils.), found all over North America, but most abundant in the north and northwest.
The adult female is about 2 ft. long, with an extent of wings of 4 ft. and a weight of about 3 lbs.; the male is smaller; both sexes are alike in plumage. In the adult the general color of the upper parts is dark ash-gray, the shafts and sometimes the edges of the feathers black; head above and neck behind black with a grayish tinge; a broad line of white over each eye; under parts grayish white, sides and abdomen tinged with brown; blackish brown longitudinal streaks on the fore neck, and transverse blackish gray lines on the breast, sides, and belly; quills brown, ashy on their inner webs; tail with four or five broad brownish black bands, and narrowly tipped with white. The young birds are dark brown above, with light markings; the tail ashy; the under parts white, with yellowish red tinges, each feather with a longitudinal stripe ending in a brown ovate spot. This is one of the boldest and most rapid of the genus, and follows with untiring wing the flocks of wild pigeons and ducks; it seldom alights unless to devour its prey, and when thus engaged stands very erect.
The nest is of large size, flat, and made of coarse materials; the eggs are of a bluish white color, sometimes with light brownish spots. - The European goshawk resembles the American, but the transverse bands on the under surface are much more regular. It equals the gerfalcon in size, but not in strength and courage; though an ignoble bird, and falling obliquely on its prey, it is used in falconry for the weaker and ground game, such as hares and rabbits, or birds of low flight like grouse and ducks.
American Goshawk (Astur atricapillus).