Northern Goshawk in Ireland
Inis ecologists have been seeing increasing numbers of Northern Goshawks on our survey sites over the past few years. These sightings, however, are more due to an increased workload and surveying more suitable habitats than an increase in Goshawk population. At the moment we have one confirmed pair breeding on one of our Cork sites and another site with at least one bird present – we hope to get breeding confirmation on this site soon.
The Goshawk (northern goshawk) stopped breeding regularly in Ireland in the 1880s. Breeding became regular again from the mid-1900s, as a result of deliberate (unauthorised) and accidental releases of falconers’ birds. Goshawks have been breeding in Northern Ireland since the early 1990s and a few pairs have been recorded in the Republic of Ireland in recent years (www.goldeneagle.ie). The success of these populations is variable and, in some, growth is thought to be limited by persecution. Adult goshawks are sedentary in Ireland and juveniles disperse from their natal areas in late summer. Populations breeding in northern Europe are partially migratory, and some individuals may reach Britain from Scandinavia – we attach some photos of one of these migrating Goshawks which we were lucky enough to see ringed in Falsterbo, southern Sweden in 2011.
Care should be taken in separating goshawks from sparrowhawks. In particular, female sparrowhawks often look much larger when they are flying with a slow wing flap, and may be confused with goshawk. The larger female goshawks can be separated from males in the field. Immature birds (See attached photo) are distinguishable from adults by their browner plumage and heavily streaked breasts. Goshawks can breed at one year old.