Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
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They feed on smaller birds and on mammals, including rabbits and squirrels. Their prey is plucked up during a short dashing flight.
Often confused with Sparrowhawks or with Peregrines, the Goshawk is distinguished by its bright red eyes, its white 'eyebrow' stripe and the characteristic 'S-curve' of its wings when held in flight. Males are significantly smaller than females, usually by around 20 per cent. Hunted and largely confined over time to the forests of Scotland, by the end of the 19th century they had become extinct in the UK. However, in the twentieth century they were slowly reintroduced into the wild, in part by accident as escaped falconers' birds. Looking up at a Goshawk from the ground, you will notice its grey stripes and a fluff of white feathers at the base of the tail. They have black talons and yellow legs. Unfortunately persecution of the species continues. The territorial flights of the Goshawk are called 'sky dances' or 'rollercoaster rides', as to win a female, the male Goshawk can get quite acrobatic!
Goshawks nest between 10 and 20 metres above the woodland floor. The female builds a large platform out of sticks, bedded in with softer vegetation such as pine foliage, which also has a disinfectant quality. The Goshawk lays 3 to 4 eggs of a bluish white colour. There are now 400 pairs nesting in the UK and this number is increasing.