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name generally applied to the smaller members of the Accipitridae, a heterogeneous family of diurnal birds of prey, such as the eagle, the kite, and the Old World vulture.
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(Accipiter gentilis), a bird of prey of the family Accipitridae. The goshawk ranges from 52 to 70 cm in length and from 0.55 to 1.8 kg in weight. The females are larger than the males. The short broad wings and long tail enable the goshawk to dash with extreme agility through thick forests in pursuit of its prey. The back is blue-gray, and the underparts are barred; in young birds, the underparts are streaked.
The goshawk is distributed primarily in the forest zone of Europe, Asia, and North America and in the mountains of northwestern Africa. It is nonmigratory or weakly migratory. The preferred habitat is forests, where it nests in trees. A clutch contains three or four eggs, which for the most part are incubated by the female; the incubation period is about 35 days. The diet consists of birds and mammals to the size of a hare. On game farms, the goshawk can at times be destructive; in all areas, however, it is greatly reduced in numbers, so that the harm it causes is of small consequence. The goshawk is sometimes used in falconry.