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Cooper's Hawk

Épervier de Cooper

Accipiter cooperii

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Cooper's Hawk

Species: The Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), once known as the "Chicken Hawk", is a middle-sized hawk in the accipiter family; the Sharp-chinned Hawk being the smallest hawk and the Goshawk being the largest. The accipiters prey mostly on other birds and small animals. It is a common hawk seen hunting pigeons in cities and around bird feeders preying on doves.

Distinctions: The male and female are very similar in appearance, as with most birds of prey the female is noticeably the larger of the two sexes. Both adults have a blue to bluish-grey back, wings and tail. The tail itself is long with bold bands. The breast is light in colour, fully covered with orange barring. A noticeable distinction is their red to reddish-orange eyes. The juveniles are different from the adults in their first year, seen as brown birds with a hint of rufous, bold banned tail feathers and bold brown breast streaks. The Sharp-chinned Hawk is almost exactly the same in appearance, where the female is almost the same size as the male of the Cooper's Hawk. The difference comes down to the rounded tail feathers of the Cooper's Hawk to the square tail feathers of the Sharp-chinned Hawk. Another feature is a longer neck and head projection when these two bird species are seen in flight. A flatter crown on the Cooper's than compared to a rounded crown on the Sharp-chinned.

Voice: Repeated predator type cries with several different notes.

Nesting: Three to four pale white eggs, with possible brown speckles. Nest usually built high in a deciduous tree. Prefers an open wooded area and can be found in parks and even woodlots.

Birds of North America

Life, Habitat & Pictures of the Cooper's Hawk

B L W W W Family Latin Name
16.5" 41.9cm 31" 78.7cm 1lb. 453.6g Accipitridae Accipiter cooperii

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter

Distribution: Found throughout wooded areas and parks. Has adapted will with towns and cities, common backyard visitor, where bird feeders are located. Can be seen flying over areas with rapid wing beats, and a short gliding patterns. Common throughout North America, seen from eastern Canada to British Columbia, down into California, east to Florida.

References to Other Bird Sites:

These are links to websites pertaining to the different birding institutions, societies and organizations here in North America. Some of these same sites are a great asset to seeking out knowledge on birds in other regions of the world. Each of these links offer the user different methods to identify birds, whether it be by regions, habitat, appearance or maybe colour. Knowledge on the possibilities of where and what birds might be present are included.

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

The description to follow is taken from the AOS Home Page.

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds, enriching ornithology as a profession, and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. As one of the world's oldest and largest ornithological societies, AOS produces scientific publications of the highest quality, hosts intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings, serves ornithologists at every career stage, pursues a global perspective, and informs public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections. AOS is distinguished by its tremendous collective expertise, including eminent scientists, conservation practitioners, early career innovators, and students.

eBird - TheCornellLab of OrnithologyeBird is a must for any individual, who has an interest in birds. This site allows users to sign up and participate in recording birds seen on a daily basis as well as the location, for any bird species seen in the world. In addition, users can use the existing data to search out the location of bird species throughout the year. By using filters, information as to the movements can be determined. Photos can be added to identify individual birds. Migration pattern can be calculated using information by months or years as needed. Range maps can be verified, allowing the users to see where the presence of individual bird species are expected to be at certain times of the year.

NA - National Geographic The Society of National Geographic provides some of the best books available for those who have an interest in birds. The book called "The Complete Birds of North America", is a book recommended to be part of any birders library. This book covers all the native and vagrant species of birds seen on the North American Continent. It provides information on all the birds listed on the ABA bird list. This book goes into great details, describing the individual species and their races. That aside, their website provides wonderful information pertaining to many articles regarding nature.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds