A medium sized hawk of the forests.
Although it generally hunts wild birds and small mammals, the Cooper's Hawk also
has the somewhat unfair moniker of "Chicken Hawk" for its supposed
preference for farm poultry. A mature Cooper's Hawk has reddish barring on its breast and belly
with dark gray or black cap on its head. (see photo to the right). An
immature bird has a buffy-orange head with thin dark streaks on breast and upper
Habitat: Prefers conifers or mixed forest when nesting. Can be found in any
forest type in winter. Generally avoids open areas without trees nearby.
Diet: Mostly birds and small mammals,
occasionally reptiles, fish, and insects.
Behavior: Hunts from a perch, waiting for prey to
come within range, and then moving swiftly to catch it. Very acrobatic
and maneuverable in the chase.
Nesting: April and May. The nest of a Cooper's
Hawk is a large bowl built of sticks, lined with softer vegetative material.
The female usually lays between 3 and 5 eggs, and she does most of the
incubation while the male brings her food. When the eggs hatch, the male
initially brings food while the female stays with the young. After a
couple of weeks, both parents help bring food to the young. The young
fledge after about a month.
Migration: Birds in northern part of range (northern U.S. and southern Canada) migrate
south in the fall. Generally found in all seasons in other parts of its range.
Similar Species: Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Juvenile Northern Goshawk
also could be mistaken for a Cooper's Hawk
Conservation Status: After a severe drop in numbers by 1970, numbers
have been increasing. They have even become more common as breeders in
city parks and other urban settings with large trees.
The IUCN lists the
Cooper's Hawk as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Cooper's Hawk"
-- Cooper's Hawk
Photo Information: May 22nd, 2010 - Blue Mound State
Park in Minnesota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for
additional, higher-resolution Cooper's Hawk photos.