Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)



Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), a Federal Species of Concern, prefers mature deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forest types found in the northern 2/3 of Wisconsin. Territories are also known to occur in pine plantations in lower percentages, especially in the central part of the state. A mature, closed canopy forest with large diameter trees for nesting and foraging is predominately selected for by breeding pairs. Territorial adults are known to be very aggressive to humans entering within a half-mile or more of an active nest during most stages of the breeding season. Nests are generally placed just below the canopy in the upper portion of the nest tree and one to five alternate nests are common within a nest stand. The recommended avoidance period for this species is March 20 - July 31. See the species guidance document for avoidance measures and management guidance from the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Accipiter gentilis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/M
Federal Status in WisconsinSOC
State RankS2B,S2N
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

This document contains identification and life history information for Northern Goshawk. It also describes how to screen projects for potential impact to this species, lists avoidance measures, and provides general management guidance.

Northern Goshawk [PDF]



Northern Goshawk

Adult female Northern Goshawk

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk - first year bird with a full crop.

Photo © Laura Erickson.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk Adult Male.

Photo © Phil Detrich.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk nestlings. This rare raptor inhabits the extensive interior forests of northern Wisconsin.

Photo ©  USFWS.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Northern Goshawk. Only natural communities for which Northern Goshawk is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northern Goshawk. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Northern Goshawk occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

Back to Top

Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

Back to Top

Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

Back to Top

Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020