Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Details About The Cooper's Hawk

  • General Information

    Cooper's Hawks are all iridescent black with a large, slightly curved, bill. The tail is long and wedge-shaped. These hawks have long, shaggy neck feathers that can be a paler brownish grey and puff out when they call. The eye's iris is dark brown in adults; juveniles have a blue-grey iris.

    Latin Name: Accipiter cooperii
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes
    Family: Accipitridae
    Length: 14-19 inches
    Weight: 10-24 ounces
    Wingspan: 28-34 inches
    Common Name: Blue Darter, Chicken Hawk
    Etymology: accipiter (Latin) - "birds of prey"; cooperii - after William Cooper, an ornithologist

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    The Cooper's Hawk has active flight with stiff, strong wing beats and will soar with dihedral or flat wings. A typical flight pattern for accipiters is flap, flap, glide - flap, flap, glide. They will surprise prey with a low, swift dashing flight, and have been known to drown prey with a convulsive grip.

    Around the nest, a rapid kek, kek, kek, suggestive of a flicker.

    Cooper's Hawks are forest-dwelling raptors. Their preference for forest habitats makes them more difficult to spot, but they will usually soar for a period of time each day. Cooper's Hawks are seen in increasing numbers while Sharp-shinned Hawks are declining due to habitat. Cooper's Hawks will nest in fragmented woodlands, while Sharp-shinned Hawks won't.

  • Nesting

    The Cooper's Hawk usually builds a new nest of sticks and twigs each year. The best is usually lined with flakes of bark and sprigs of green pine needles. They lay 4-5 eggs. Incubation lasts about 30-32 days and is shared by both sexes. The male brings sticks, and the female arranges the nest in the crotch of tree or on top of a squirrel's nest in dense canopy. The female lays eggs every other day but eggs are hatched within three days.

  • Distribution

    Cooper's Hawks are common to uncommon in their breeding range, which is most of United States and southern Canada, except southern Florida and northern Great Plains. Northern birds are migratory.

  • Food

    Main food is birds and small mammals.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper's Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone. Cuidado, mi vida!

    Cooper's Hawks are widespread through United States and southern Canada; they are more commonly seen in suburbs feeding at backyard bird feeders, probably due to reforestation in the East. When you feed the birds - you feed ALL the birds.