[TN-Bird] Goshawks seen near Gatlinburg, TN

  • From: James Peters <jpeters@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 20:55:26 -0500

On Saturday, June 18 I observed a pair of Northern Goshawks soaring above Ogle Road near Gatlinburg, Sevier Co., TN.

I was first alerted to the birds when I heard repeated very loud and unfamiliar gull-like ke-uh, ke-uh calls and then noted two large hawks soaring in the sky above the road.

The birds were clearly visible with the naked eye and with my 10X binoculars I noted the following field marks. Though the two birds soaring in the sky were far away, I could discern a distinctive black and white tail pattern unlike either a Broad-winged or Red-shouldered, very long, broad wings with a hint of light windows at the tips, and a light barring on the undersides of the birds.

At least one of the birds continued to call while I was able to observe them and I was able to make a clear record in my mind of the unusual call. I am very familiar with the calls of Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, and Broad-winged hawks. It was the unusual character of the calls that first caught my attention . At the time of my observing them, 3 characteristics that particularly impressed me were the very distinctive calls, the impressively long and broad wings, and the unusual black and white tail pattern. Given the distance that the birds were from me, I was not able to observe any other distinctive field marks.

When I was able to check my iPod about an hour later, I was able to confirm that the calls were that of a Northern Goshawk. I know that Northern Goshawks are not well confirmed breeders in the Southern Appalachians. Despite the improbability of encountering Northern Goshawks in the Appalachian Mts of TN in June, I am convinced that the birds I observed had to be a pair of Northern Goshawks.

Jim Peters
Sewanee, TN

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  • » [TN-Bird] Goshawks seen near Gatlinburg, TN - James Peters