Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 157, Issue 1, pp 363–370 | Cite as

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) may improve Black Grouse breeding success

  • Risto TornbergEmail author
  • Seppo Rytkönen
  • Panu Välimäki
  • Jari Valkama
  • Pekka Helle
Original Article


Around the nests of many birds of prey the pressure of nest predators is decreased. This attracts other bird species to breed near nests of those birds of prey in order to benefit from protection conferred. This study examines the possible protective effect of the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) on two of its main prey species, the Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and the Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). If the Goshawk reduces the number of corvids robbing grouse nests, there should be a larger proportion of grouse females with broods near Goshawk nests during late summer. We compared the proportion of grouse females with the broods observed in wildlife-triangle counts, which were performed along a 12-km-long equilateral triangle in relation to distance from a successful Goshawk nest. Where Goshawks had nested inside a triangle, the proportion of Black Grouse females with a brood was 20 % higher than in situations where a Goshawk had nested 2–3 km away from the center of the triangle. On the other hand, the number of adult Black Grouse rose as the distance from the Goshawk nest increased, but this pattern did not hold with chick abundance. No distance effect was found for Capercaillie. This study thus provided indirect evidence based on quantitative data that Goshawks may create a protective effect for one of its main prey.


Goshawk Grouse Nest protection Predation Trophic cascade 


Die Anwesenheit von Habichten erhöht möglicherweise den Bruterfolg von Birkhühnern

Der Prädationsdruck durch Nesträuber ist in der Nähe von Horsten oftmals geringer. Andere Vogelarten brüten daher gern in der Nähe von Horsten, um vom geringeren Prädationsdruck zu profitieren. Wir untersuchten, ob dieses Phänomen auch auf Birkhühner (Tetrao tetrix) und Auerhühner (Tetrao urogallus) zutrifft, zwei der wichtigsten Beutetiere von Habichten. Unsere Annahme war, dass Habichte einen negativen Einfluss auf Rabenvögel, die die Nester von Birkhühnern plündern haben, und wir somit einen erhöhten Anteil brütender Birkhuhnhennen in der Nähe von Habichthorsten im Spätsommer finden sollten. Wir verglichen daher die Anzahl brütender Birkenhuhnhennen in Bezug zur Entfernung von aktiven Habichthorsten innerhalb eines 12 km gleichseitigen Dreiecks. Der Anteil brütender Hennen war 20 % höher in Gebieten mit zentral gelegenen Habichthorsten als in Gebieten, wo Habichte 2–3 km vom Zentrum unseres Messpunktes entfernt brüteten. Jedoch zeigte sich auch, dass die Anzahl adulter Birkhühner mit der Entfernung zu aktiven Habichthorsten zunahm. Dieses Muster traf jedoch nicht zu, wenn wir die Kükenanzahl berücksichtigten. Ebenso fanden wir keinen Effekt auf Auerhühner. Indirekt haben wir hiermit einen quantitativen Nachweis erbracht, dass Habichte möglicherweise einen schützenden Einfluss auf eines ihrer Hauptbeutetiere haben.



We thank Ossi Tornberg and Nora Välimäki for proofreading and two anonymous referees for valuable comments to the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Risto Tornberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Seppo Rytkönen
    • 1
  • Panu Välimäki
    • 1
  • Jari Valkama
    • 2
  • Pekka Helle
    • 3
  1. 1.University of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.University of OuluOuluFinland

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