The Goshawk: The Peak of Aviation

When it comes to precision in flight, there is no match for the Goshawk. Goshawks are species of birds of prey mainly in the genus Accipiter. There are more than 25 types of goshawk but the most prevalent species is the Northern Goshawk. It is in fact the only species of Goshawk in North America and Europe and therefore its name is often shortened to simply the “Goshawk.” The Goshawk lives in forests and other woodland habitats. They typically nest high in trees and are rarely seen. The best time to see a Goshawk is during breeding season. This is because, during this time, the Goshawk become extremely territorial, and will attack anything it the area, even humans. This behavior is believed to stem from defense against tree-climbing bears.  The Goshawk has adapted to not only maneuver through dense vegetation but to use it to their advantage.  Their hunting style is one of stealth and ambush. They fly very low to the ground at high speeds, dodging, banking, and morphing their body to slip through the woodlands, hoping to surprise their prey.

Skip to 1:42 to see a Goshawk flying in its natural habitat:

Their unlucky prey can vary greatly, as the Goshawk, like most birds of prey, are very opportunistic predators, but they most often prey on small birds or mammals. They often take their catch to a perch and enjoy their meal out of harms way.

However, the most impressive characteristic of the Goshawk is, without a doubt, its incredible precision, timing, and control. To more closely investigate the Goshawk in flight, a trained Goshawk was put into a controlled environment with a high-speed camera trained on the small opening.

As shown in the video, the Goshawk has several adaptations to allow it to fly in its woodland home. Firstly, it has huge tail feathers that spread extremely wide to generate the lift needed as the wings recoil to fit through a small gap.

Secondly, the Goshawk has semi-transparent eyelids that cover they eyes as the Goshawk flies through vegetation, which protect the eyes from branches or thorns.

The Goshawk is without a doubt the peak of aviation, both natural and man-made. It eclipses any other flying thing with is incredible precision and control.



Lorena Barba posted on December 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

These videos are amazing. I enjoyed the peregrine falcon, and couldn’t skip ahead for the goshawk. But the fast and precise maneuvers of the goshawk are truly extraordinary. He is a real athlete.

Sean Koyama posted on December 10, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Wow, this bird is amazing. I wonder if we can build a flying suit sophisticated enough to allow us to maneuver like the goshawk.