Northern Goshawk at Ambleside Park

I stopped in at Ambleside Park today as part of a tour to some of the north shore’s smaller birding destinations. As I was glassing some European Starlings in a tree situated along the western arm of the pond, a Northern Goshawk made a sudden appearance into the midst of the group.

Northern Goshawk often attempt to capture their prey by ambushing the victim (1). The attack may involve a silent glide to the target from an elevated perch; although, if detected, the bird will propel itself forward in an attempt to get to the prey before it escapes (2, 3). The Goshawk I observed was unsuccessful in its attempt to capture a starling; however, a very brave (or foolish) Black-capped Chickadee rushed to the scene and began scolding the hawk. It was almost made into meal when the hawk rushed forward along the tree branch, exhibiting the persistent and often reckless hunting behaviour that these birds are known for, in an effort to make the best of a failed capture (2). The chickadee was too good for the hawk as it made a quick getaway to a perch out of reach and resumed its scolding.

After the hawk flew off I went to check out the action in Burrard Inlet but on my way back to the car I swung by the pond again. This time I found the Goshawk perched in a conifer on the golf course that makes up the northern bank of the pond…

I’m really enjoying this two week break I have from university thanks to the Olympics; today was my fourth straight day of birding and I’m looking forward to the fifth. This Northern Goshawk was a great bird to look at and to watch it hunting was quite spectacular, though it would have been nice to see it take one of those starlings out of action.


  1. Squires, John R. and Richard T. Reynolds. 1997. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
  2. Beebe, F. L. 1974. Goshawk. Pages 54-62 in Field studies of the Falconiformes of British Columbia. Br. Columbia Prov. Mus. Occas. Pap. Ser. no. 17.
  3. Schnell, J. H. 1958. Nesting behavior and food habits of goshawks in the Sierra Nevada of California. Condor 60:377-403.

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