Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter Cooperii

Cooper's Hawk Photo by Jason Finley

Cooper’s Hawk Photo by Jason Finley

Identifying Them:

Cooper’s Hawks are large raptors with a height of 14-20 inches and a wingspan of around 28-37 inches. The top of their heads and wings are a grey-brown color, but their stomachs and necks are white with brown specks. They have medium-sized, rounded, curvy wings and a large, black-and-white striped tail that can be as long as 8 inches. They look similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks. Their stomach feathers, tail-feathers, and head feathers are very similar, but their main similarity is their wings, which are about the same shape. Though it is hard to find a lot of distinctive differences, there are still a few ways to tell them apart. One is that Sharp-shinned Hawks have more white on their stomach, and the other is that Cooper’s Hawks’ tail feathers are rounder at the ends than the Sharp-shinned.


Cooper’s Hawks live year-round throughout most of the United States. These hawks are summer breeders and will breed in Central North America. They live in woodlands, forests and suburbs, but are often found on poles or fences near busy highways or freeways.


When hunting, these hawks move quietly and quickly, until they are close enough to overcome their prey quickly. Cooper’s Hawks will sometimes wait around backyards or houses with bird feeders and stalk feeder-birds.

For Cooper’s Hawks, courtship continues for a long time. and the male will gather food for the female for up to a month before she lays eggs.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Most of the construction of the nest is done by the male, with the female helping a little. Their nests are made of piles of twigs formed around 27 inches in diameter, 6-17 inches high, 8 inches across and 4 inches deep. When making the nests, Cooper’s Hawks don’t use a lot of things to hold it together, so it looks a little sloppily made. And since the nests aren’t made of a lot of things, it’s no surprise that it only takes two weeks to build.

Females lay around 3-6 eggs, which are a light pale-blue and measure 1.7-2 inches. The eggs are incubated for around 30-36 days, and are mostly incubated by the female while the male brings her food. After the babies hatch, they stay in the nest for around 4 weeks, and are brooded by their mother, while the father brings food for both the female and their nestlings.


Cooper’s Hawks like to eat birds like Mourning Doves, pigeons, pheasants, blue jays and other birds. Although they will occasionally eat smaller birds, they usually like to eat more medium-sized birds like to ones listed up above. When hunting, if they cannot find many medium-sized birds, they will sometimes eat rodents, chipmunks, hares and squirrels.


About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Bird Watching, Hawk, nonfiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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