​The Northern Goshawk

July 27, 2015: As part of J.D. Irving, Limited’s (JDI) award-winning Unique Areas Program, we work to conserve our forests as well as the wildlife that lives within them.  

This Northern Goshawk is one of the many species we are working to conserve. JDI first discovered this bird living within our forests in Northern Maine. Max Petrashune, a Block Planner for JDI, found himself face-to-face with a very vocal and angry Goshawk while planning for harvest in the area.

While most birds flee the nest at the sight of a human, Goshawks stand firm. They not only hold their ground, but will actively attempt to push their intruder out of their territory. They do this by producing blood curdling screeches typically followed by a few “near-miss” swoops.

Goshawks are stick nest builders and mostly nest within the first big crotch of large yellow birch or sometimes sugar maple.  At 24+ inches across, these birds are hard to miss during the winter months when the trees are lacking leaves. During the summer months, however, we tend to rely on the Goshawks to let us know where they are.    

  Northern Goshawk


Within the Unique Areas Program there are 24 Northern Goshawk nest sites, while over 14,300 ha (35,335 ac) of nest habitat is specifically maintained for other bird species.

When a species is spotted, it is documented and the proper precautions are put into place. In the case of the Northern Goshawk, JDI places a buffer around the area in which they nest. In other words, a no harvest zone is put into place. The measurements are determined through our partnership with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre. 

When the bird is present in the nest during nesting season, the buffer is 100 meters from the nesting spot. During the regular season when the birds have likely left the nest, the buffer shrinks down to 50 meters.

“Northern Goshawks, with their aggressive territorial nest defense and top of food chain status,   are not only respected by other members of the avian world,  but also by our Woodlands staff.” says Kelly Honeyman, JDI Chef Naturalist. “Staff are provided training on how to identify a variety of bird nests and what protection measures should be put in place when an active nest is located.”

JDI considers wildlife conservation within the forests we own and manage one of our most important goals. Through partnership, employing educated professionals, and training those on the ground, we are able to ensure that the animals living within the forests, such as the Northern Goshawk, live a long and happy life.