We are delighted to begin the New Year on a positive note telling the story of the success of one raptor, the goshawk, normally an elusive bird associated with Europe’s forests, but currently breeding in the heart of the city of Berlin. Today seventy years after the end of the Second World War, Berlin’s goshawks are s common sight flying among the high rise buildings, nesting in the cities public parks and in Berlin’s numerous cemeteries located in the west and south of the city. In Berlin’s Tiegarten Park, roughly the size of London’s Regents Park , there are 3 occupied goshawk territories. This heart warming story published here is illustrated by images and videos captured by Sam Hobson and Terry Pickford, two of our regular contributors. Significantly Germany has nominated the goshawk as the bird of the year for 2015.
The streets of Berlin were choked with rubble — and Red Army soldiers — after the city’s almost total destruction and occupation in the spring of 1945.
It will surprise most of our readers to learn there are currently over 100 resident pairs of goshawks now breeding and reasonably safe in this huge city metropolis . The hawks success has been brought about by an almost complete lack of human persecution inside the city and acceptance by the people of Berlin. In some parts of the city, goshawk density have now reached 10-13 breeding pairs per 100 square km, the highest density anywhere in their global range. In other parts of Germany the goshawk has also settled in Hamburg, Kiel, Cologne and Dresden as well as in many other cities. In a number of other European cities such as Amsterdam, Kiev, Moscow and Riga the goshawk has also taken up residence and continues to breed unmolested.
Sadly according to a spokesperson from NABU, (Nature & Biodiversity Conservation Union), the goshawk remains Germany’s most persecuted birds of prey in the rural regions throughout the country. Even inside Berlin where they sometimes attempt to breed in people’s back yards close to pigeon fanciers or poultry breeders, nests do not last very long.
The goshawk national population is estimated in the new German Breeding Bird Atlas ADEBAR to be 11,500 to 16,500 breeding pairs. Thus, about seven to eight percent of the total European and roughly twenty percent of the EU population are resident inside Germany. Above all, the Northwest German lowlands and the uplands are densely populated. Distribution gaps are found in very sparsely wooded areas, for example, near Magdeburg or on the North Sea coast. On average, about six breeding pairs are recorded within 100 square kilometers in Germany.
Female Goshawk feeding her brood of 4 chicks.
Goshawk Images by Sam Hobson captured in Berlin
Sam Hobson is a wildlife photographer with a passion for showcasing the wildlife that lives alongside us in towns and cities. His photography has been awarded amongst other accolades in this year’s 50th anniversary Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.
He says “I couldn’t really believe it when I first heard that the goshawk – possibly the UK’s most elusive bird of prey, was living in the heart of Germany’s capital city. I visited Berlin many times over a two-year period and made it my mission to document the lives of these magnificent urban raptors.”