Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Uncommon to rare but increasing; range is expanding southward in Appalachians.
HABITAT: Inhabits mixed hardwood and coniferous forests in temperate and boreal regions, from sea level to tree line. Prefers woodlands with intermediate canopy coverage interspersed with fields or wetlands, especially in remote areas.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Extensive mixed woodlands with large trees for nesting.
NEST: Prefers to nest in large hardwood trees 30 to 40 feet above ground, where clear, level access is afforded by a stream or other opening. Frequently selects birch, maple, aspen, and beech for nesting trees; occasionally selects juniper, pine, spruce, and fir. Usually builds a new nest each year, but may build on top of an old hawk nest.
FOOD: Hunts for prey in dense woodlands, clearings, and open fields. In one study, its diet consisted of 54 percent birds, 37 percent mammals, and 9 percent insects. Eats grouse, quail, pheasants, small hawks, owls, crows, gulls, ducks, doves, thrushes, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, woodchucks, muskrats, weasels, shrews, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.
REFERENCES: Cramp and Simmons 1980, DeGraff et al. 1980, Evans in Farrand 1983a, Heintzelman 1979, Jones 1979, McAtee 1935, Shuster 1980, Terres 1980.