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Field Guide for all the Birds of North America

Cooper's Hawk

Épervier de Cooper

Accipiter cooperii

Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities


Species: The Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), once known as the "Chicken Hawk", is a mid-sized hawk in the accipiter family; the Sharp-shinned 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 and 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
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Life, Habitat & Pictures of North American Hawks

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

North American Birds Calls

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range map

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

References to Other Bird Sites:

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.

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