While reading outside this morning, my attention was diverted by a loud, repetitive call that I initially presumed to be coming from a northern flicker. To my surprise, the sound arose from an adult northern goshawk, perched in a large cottonwood tree. Within a few minutes, it was joined by an immature goshawk and the large accipiters flew off soon thereafter.
Permanent residents of mature forests across Alaska, Canada, the Western Mountains, the Upper Great Lakes and Northern New England, northern goshawks are known for their rapid, powerful flight, their fierce engagement with prey or competitors and an aggressive defense of their nesting territory. Prey includes large birds (grouse, woodpeckers, jays) and small mammals (especially rabbits, hares and squirrels); they may also kill other raptors that invade their home area.
During the colder months, some goshawks descend to intermountain valleys or adjacent lowlands; it is then that they may turn up across the High Plains and Upper Midwest. Today's sightings were the first (at least for me) on our Littleton, Colorado, farm and their brief visit was both welcome and inspiring.