Allen, B.A. 1978. Nesting ecology of the goshawk in
the Adirondacks. M.S.
Thesis, SUNY ESF, Syracuse, 71 pp.
Abstract: The goshawk (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus) breeds primarily in the heavily wooded sections of eastern Canada and in certain areas of the northern United States. A few scattered pairs nest as far south as the mountains of Pennsylvania and western Maryland (Bent 1937). Eaton (1914), McAtee (1926) and Saunders (1929) describe the goshawks's status in New York State as a rare summer resident and breeding bird, being chiefly a winter visitor. The data I have collected from vaious sources--foresters, wildlife biologists and birdwatchers during 1976 and 1977, indicate that nesting goshawks are not as scarce as was formerly reported. Whether or not this indicates a recent increase in the number ofd successfully reproducing pairs of goshawks in New York or merely in the number of competent observers in the field remains to be learned.
Sutton (1925, 1931) studied nesting goshawks in Pennsylvania, and McDowell (1941) recorded the food habits of the birds in that state. The nesting of the goshawk in San Diego County, California was recorded by Dixon and Dixon (1938); Schnell (1958) described the nesting and food habits of birds in Nevada County, California. The food habits of goshawks in New York and Pennsylvania were investigated by Meng (1959). Other studies of this species breeding in North America are found in the literature; however, no systematic studies appear to have been made of nesting birds in the Adirondack region of New York.
The importance of the collection and analysis of essential background information on the goshowk is readily apparent when seen in the light of the current and future habitat changes due to activities such as logging and road building that are taking place.
Many dimensions of the nesting ecology of goshawks need to be clarified. the literature presents conflicting information with regard to which sex builds the nest, how frequently goshawks occupy the nests built by other raptors and the precise length of the incubation period. Information concerning food habits, type of habitat preferred for nesting, and changes in location of active nest sites, has yet to be obtained for goshawks in the Adirondack region.
The objectives of this study are: (1) to collect information on the food habits, behavior and developmetn of the young, parental caare and other aspects of nesting ecology by intensively studying several active nests in the Adirondacks; (2) to determine what type of habitat is preferred in the Adirondack region of New York State by recording various habitat data for 10 to 20 nest sites; and (3) to relate nest site preference to the habits and requirements of the goshawk.
This thesis presents data which contribute to an understanding of the goshawk and its relationship to the Adirondack forest environment. Such information, when combined with the findings of additional studies, will be useful in helping to predict the possible impact of logging and other alterations in habitat on the nesting success and distribution of the goshawk.