I have always considered the northern goshawk my favorite forest bird. And apparently its my “big year”. I have never seen this seclusive creature, other than the stuffed specimen at the front desk at the Mad River Ranger Station. They are actually quite common in the US, but rare in our coastal forests here in CA where they live on the fringe of their range. I have done numerous surveying for these birds in the past 15 years and never had found one. Until this summer:
I was conducting a stand search, for any raptor, owl, or important species. I heard it calling at first from a distance but once it realized I was walking in it territory it flew right on top of me and squawked away. Once I saw it I knew it was a goshawk. I followed it until it stopped in this tree.
I stopped to take some notes, and started looking for a nest. After about 20-30 min of searching around I saw it:
Inside the nest was the female and at least one fledgeling. Do to a constant drizzle, it was difficult to get a clear view, and my binoculars where getting drops on the lenses. It was in a 18″ DBH Douglas-fir, which was some what interesting considering all of the fat nesting structure in the larger trees. But thats the thing about the human eye. It obviously doesn’t have the best ability at determining nesting structure.