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Hawks are a subfamily of birds of prey that belongs to the hawk family. On the territory of the Russian Federation, the most widespread are the goshawk and the sparrowhawk.
The genus of hawks includes forty-seven species. Among all species, the goshawk (or large hawk) is considered the most typical representative.
The total body length of this hawk can reach sixty-eight centimeters, and its mass is one and a half kilograms. The color of adult hawks on the ventral side of the body has a whitish tint, which is discharged due to transversely located brown stripes.
The dorsal side of the body is grayish-brown in color. True hawks are part of the genus of the hawk family. These are birds of prey. Hawks have a slender body. The wings of hawks are short and wide, bent. The paws of these birds are long and clawed. These paws are necessary for hawks to kill their prey. The beak is hooked and very sharp.
Male hawks are usually smaller in size than females. These birds often watch for their prey soaring in the air or on a dais. Having found prey, the hawks fly towards it like an arrow. As a rule, mammals and small birds are included in their diet.
The habitat of hawks is shrub and woodlands (coniferous and deciduous forests), these birds inhabit the forest and mountainous areas of North America and Eurasia. Forests consisting of tall and old trees are more preferred as a place for a nest.
The illumination of the nesting site should be medium. In addition, an indispensable condition is the presence of small edges near the nest (for hunting purposes).
The means of communication between hawks are sound signals, which is especially noticeable during the nesting period, when both males and females emit approximately identical vibrating sounds.
Goshawks breed once a year - the female lays two to four bluish-white eggs. Hawks become independent about 95 days after birth, and become sexually mature at the age of one year.
The largest species of the genus of hawks is the goshawk. The weight of males, as a rule, varies from 630 to 1100 grams. Body length is approximately equal to fifty-five centimeters. The wingspan of the goshawk is approximately one meter. Females of goshawks are larger than males. Their weight varies from 860 to 1360 grams, the length reaches sixty-one centimeters. The wingspan ranges from one hundred and five centimeters to one hundred and fifteen centimeters. The goshawk is endowed with longer and wider white stripes of feathers above the eyes than other members of the hawk genus. Moreover, these feathers in goshaws converge at the back of the head. White stripes on all hawks give the impression of white eyebrows. The eyes of adult goshawks are reddish brown or red in color. The eyes of young goshawks are bright yellow. The color of males and females of goshawks varies from bluish-gray to black. The back, wing-coverts and head are usually darker in color. The lower part of the body is light; transverse gray ripples are clearly visible on it. The coloration of young individuals differs significantly from that of adult hawks. The outer part of the wings, the head, and the entire upper part of the young hawks are brown. The breast is white, with brown vertical stripes visible.
Goshawks are birds of prey. Their diet includes mammals, invertebrates, birds, as well as large and medium-sized reptiles. An interesting fact is that the weight of the prey chosen by the hawks can reach half the weight of the predator itself. Squirrels, hares, hazel grouses are often objects of hunting for goshawks.
Goshawks are sedentary. This applies to most populations of these birds. Moreover, most individuals adhere to one territory throughout their lives. However, among the goshawks, there is one population, which is migratory. Nesting places of individuals of this population are located in the northwestern and northern parts of North America. For the winter, these birds fly to the south.
Goshawks always adhere to a certain territory. For example, during the construction of a nest, a pair of hawks openly demonstrates air pirouettes around their nesting site, and if suddenly someone invades their territory, the hawks will do their best to protect it. Females usually have a slightly smaller individual territory than males goshawks. An interesting fact is that different individuals of the territory may well overlap. Nesting areas are an exception. If, in general, we take into account the individual territory during the nesting period, then it usually varies from 570 to 3500 hectares.
Sound signals are a means of communication between goshawks. As, however, and other hawks. The scream of goshawks is high and sonorous. To a greater extent, communication of these birds becomes noticeable during the nesting period. At this time, approximately identical vibrating sounds are heard from both male and female hawks. The only difference is that the female goshawk has a louder and lower voice.
Goshawks breed once a year. The breeding period is limited to early April and mid June. It should be noted that the peak of activity is observed at the end of April and in May. The laying of eggs is preceded by the work of building the nest, which begins about two months before. As a rule, the place for the nest is a branch near the trunk in an overmature forest. Goshawks arrange their nest near open spaces, that is, meadows, forest edges, roads, swamps, etc. The diameter of the nest is usually about a meter. It is being built at a height of fifty centimeters to one meter above ground level. As building materials, hawks use dry branches, which are often entwined with bunches of needles or green shoots, and are also endowed with pieces of bark. Typically, the female lays two to four bluish-white eggs. The interval between laying each egg is two to three days. The size of the eggs is 59 x 45 mm. They are rough to the touch.
Goshawk chicks hatch twenty-eight to thirty-eight days after oviposition. Only the female takes part in the incubation of eggs. In this regard, the male can replace her only during the hunt. After the chicks are born, the female hawk remains in the nest for another twenty-five days. At this time, the duties of the male include the production of food for both the chicks and the female. The offspring remain in the nest for thirty-four or thirty-five days. After this period, the chicks gradually get out of the nest and move to neighboring branches of the native tree. Hawks are able to start flying between the ages of thirty-five and forty-six days. However, until the age of seventy days, the parents continue to take care of the offspring, who are still the main source of food for the chicks. Often chicks leave their parents suddenly. Almost all offspring becomes fully independent ninety-five days after birth. A year after birth, goshawks reach sexual maturity.
The Sparrowhawk is a species of bird of prey belonging to the hawk family. The distribution area of the sparrowhawk (also known as the lesser hawk) includes almost the entire territory of Eurasia. This species lives mainly in forest areas. Sparrowhawk males are almost half the size of females. The objects of hunting of these hawks are birds of medium and small size. It is very rare to hear a quick cry from a sparrowhawk, which is similar to the following: "kick-kick-kick". It is also worth noting that this happens extremely rarely. For quite a long time, these birds were very intensively exterminated as a predator. Twenty thousand sparrowhawks were shot every year in the FRG. The Sparrowhawk is the final link in the food chain. In this regard, pesticides are actively accumulating in the body of this bird. The latter pose a threat to the preservation of this species of hawks. In addition, the content of pesticides in the body of these birds is a very accurate indicator that the habitat of the sparrowhawk is infected.
The size of the sparrowhawk is smaller than that of the goshawk. Outwardly, they are similar to each other, but the sizes, indeed, differ significantly. The body length of the sparrowhawk varies from twenty-eight to thirty-eight centimeters, and the wingspan is approximately equal to only seventy-five centimeters. The size of the female of the Sparrowhawk is significantly larger than the size of the male (at least, the body length is 25% more). The body length of a female can exceed forty centimeters, and the wingspan reaches eighty centimeters. The wings of the sparrowhawk are wide and short. The tail is rather long, this circumstance helps individuals to maneuver among trees.
Sparrowhawk has a dark gray color. Here we are talking about both males and females of these birds. However, sometimes there are individuals endowed with a bluish tinge of plumage. The lower part of the body of sparrowhawks has a slightly reddish tint (which is why, from a distance, one might think that the hawk has a red plumage), on which pale gray stripes are noticeable. The iris of the eyes of these birds is either reddish-orange or orange-yellow.
The Sparrowhawk is a bird of prey. Since ancient times, in the autumn season in the Caucasus and Crimea, hunting with these birds for migratory quails has been practiced. By the way, this feature gave the name to the species of sparrowhawks. They are caught in the fall. Hunting is taught for just a few days. With the end of the autumn hunting season, sparrowhawks are usually released into the wild.
Sparrowhawk adheres to a secretive lifestyle. This applies even to those territories where this species of hawks does not belong to rare birds. Individuals of this species give preference to forests in which there are shrubs and large clearings. However, sparrowhawks do not fly deep into forests. An interesting fact is that the Sparrowhawk is easier to see in the winter. The reason for this is that it is in the winter that he often keeps in close proximity to a person's dwelling and feeders. The feeders are under the control of sparrowhawks due to the fact that they often contain potential prey for hawks. These are finches and sparrows. The Sparrowhawk is more widespread in the subtropical and temperate zones of the Old World.
Sparrowhawk is a bird hunter. Even wild pigeons sometimes become prey for large-sized females. Thrushes are more common prey for these birds. The sparrowhawks attack the selected victim from an ambush. It often happens that the hawk flies out of its shelter with great speed and pounces on its prey. Sometimes sparrowhawks fly rather low, while constantly turning until they suddenly find themselves among frightened birds (small individuals). An interesting fact is that sparrowhawks, while hunting, closely follow every movement of their prey. The result of such close surveillance is the hawk grabbing the victim with the help of its clawed paws extended forward. These hawks are excellent hunters. Sparrowhawks often pursue potential prey straight to human habitation or hiding place. True, there are times when these birds, carried away by hunting, break. In the hunting territories of Sparrowhawks, you can find places where birds of prey dissect prey. These places can be easily identified by a pile of feathers, and already from it to recognize the type of hawk's prey.
The Sparrowhawk is a migratory bird. It is not always so. Sparrowhawks are migratory birds in the north of their range - from cold regions of Europe they migrate to the southeast or south for wintering. Some of the hawks migrate to the northern part of the African continent. As for the sparrowhawks living in the territories of Central Europe, the adults spend the whole year in the same territory. However, the young generation of hawks that have become independent are also migrating from Central Europe.