The northern goshawk is an incredible aerialist. The bird inhabits dense northern forests and maneuvers through impossibly tight spaces in pursuit of prey. A fierce hunter, its quarry includes squirrels, crows, hares, and even other raptors, including merlins and American kestrels (no wonder Attila the Hun’s helmet bore a northern goshawk). See for yourself just how remarkable the accipiter is, in the BBC video below with naturalist Chris Packham.
Unlike many raptors, goshawks aren’t highly migratory. Southern populations are largely sedentary, but every decade or so Canadian populations undergo irruptions, with great numbers invading the United States after prey populations plummet in the north (similar to snowy owls and great grey owls). Even in years when the birds aren’t on the move, there are a couple of key places to see them during fall migration: Hawk Ridge, in Duluth, Minnesota (mid-October to mid-November), and Hawk Mountain in Kempton, Pennsylvania (mid- to late-November).
For more on these spots, and eight additional awesome places to catch one of nature’s greatest spectacles, check out the Audubon Guide to Hawk Watching.