Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
Goshawk is the Old English word for “goose hawk” - no real surprise there. It was labeled as such due to its habit of preying on birds. Northern goshawks display reversed sexual dimorphism with females being nearly twenty five per cent heavier than males - which allows females to catch much larger prey items. Nesting pairs will often build and maintain upwards of eight backup nests within their nesting territory. These fierce raptors are well known for aggressively defending their nest against other birds, predatory mammals and even people who may unwittingly wander too close.
The Northern goshawk is found across northern Eurasia and North America, with Eurasian races displaying significantly darker barring across their chest than North American birds. However, nearly half of the northern goshawks inhabiting Siberia are almost completely white. These secretive raptors usually live in large tracts of forest and are considerably challenging to find and spot. They rarely occur in populated regions and are commonly confused with juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, which have a strikingly similar appearance.
Howie is a goshawk who was observed colliding with a window and was subsequently admitted to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) Veterinary Medical Centre. He was diagnosed with spinal trauma resulting in temporary hind-limb paresis preventing him from walking or perching properly for nearly five days. The Wild and Exotic Animal Medicine Society (WEAMS) is a non-profit organization operated by student volunteers at the WCVM and has been caring for Howie, who has responded well to rehabilitation, has regained his strength and is due for imminent release.
For more information about WEAMS and their amazing work, here’s a more comprehensive article: words.usask.ca/wcvm/2013/07/wcvm-students-go-wild-for-wil...