Northern goshawk

Urban bird of prey

Young northern goshawks, photo Eero Haapanen

The large northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) has become a common sight in Helsinki. It is the most common bird of prey found in urban forests.

If you see a bird of prey significantly larger than a crow swooping between the trees and buildings in Helsinki, you can be sure that what you saw was a northern goshawk. Its cries can be heard echoing both in Hietaniemi graveyard and Central Park, in several territories and almost all year round. The northern goshawk has started nesting closer and closer to the inner city centre. It preys on everything from rats to pigeons, gulls, squirrels and thrush chicks. It can catch its prey from both the air and the ground.

For a nesting tree, the northern goshawk chooses a sturdy-branched spruce, pine or broadleaved tree. In Helsinki, goshawk nests have also been found in park maples and larches. The northern goshawk can use the same twig castle for decades, during which time the nest can grow up to one metre tall.