Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis Linnaeus, 1758

Astur palumbarius L.: Klain, 1909: 84.

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN [C2ai], BDA-III; International: CITES-II, BeC II, BoC-II.

General distribution. A Holarctic species inhabiting the forest regions of Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, USA, Canada, Mexico [13].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor, passage migrant and winter visitor. Until 1950 it was a common multiplying species in the valleys and the mountains [6]. The numbers were estimated at between 100 and 500 breeding pairs [4]; according to other sources, it was a "rather rare species" during the multiplication season, with no more than 100 pairs [7, 8]. Since 1985, it has been "rather rare", numbering not more than 100 pairs [9], but according to other authors between 1 000 and 1 500 pairs, with a tendency for an increase [11], between 100 1 000 pairs [3], 1 700 2 100 pairs [5], between 500 1 500 pairs [10]. At present the numbers are about 1 200 1 500 pairs. In many regions a decrease of the number of the breeding pairs is observed.

Habitats. High-stem forests in the mountains and the valleys, riverside forests; old parks in the city/town and the suburban zone [12]. In many regions of Bulgaria it breeds in coniferous cultures, which are now one of the typical multiplying habitats for the species. The nests are often in the vicinity to villages or towns.

Biology. The multiplication period is in March and the beginning of April. It builds its own large nests, also using old nests of other birds of prey or crow birds. Usually every pair has 2-3 nests in its breeding territory that the birds use in different years. In April it lays 2-5 eggs, most often 3-4, incubating them for 35-38 days. The young ones leave the nest at the age of about 40 days after hatching. It feeds on small and moderately large birds (wild and domestic ones) and mammals [1].

Similar species. The Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

Negative factors. Illegal shooting; felling and forest fires; disturbance by herb and mushroom gatheres, etc.; taking the eggs and the young birds by poachers; persecution; clashes into vehicles, windows of buildings, etc.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). Many of the breeding habitats are in National Parks (the mountains Central Balkans, Rila and Pirin), Natural Parks (Strandzha, the Vratsa area in the Balkan mountains); many reserves and Protected Localities.

Conservation measures needed. Observations of the ban on shooting the species and sanctioning people taking eggs and young birds from the nests; working out compensation programmes for damages inflicted on domestic birds. Control on wood production and collecting activities in the forests during the breeding period. Change of the legislation: express texts banning the breeding of predatory birds by private individuals and commercial organizations (falcon breeding, trade).

References. 1. Arabadzhiev, 1962; 2. Klain, 1909; 3. Kostadinova, 1997; 4. Michev, 1982; 5. Nankinov et al., 2004; 6. Patev, 1950; 7. Simeonov, 1984; 8. Simeonov, 1985; 9. Simeonov et al., 1990; 10. Birdlife International, 2004; 11. Nankinov et al., 1991; 12. Stoyanov et al., 2004; 13. Thiollay, 1994.

Authors: Georgi P. Stoyanov, Zlatozar Boev


Goshawk (distribution map)

Goshawk (drawing)