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Cooper's Hawk Facts

Common Name(s): Big Blue Darter, Chicken Hawk, Hen Hawk, Mexican Hawk, Quail Hawk, Striker and Swift Hawk

Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii

Approximate Wing Span: 24.4–35.4 in, 62–90 cm

Approximate Life Span: 12 -20 years

Natural Habitat: Woodlands, forests and leafy suburbs

Habitat & Description

The Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized bird with blue-gray and reddish feathers residing in forested habitats and suburban areas in North America. This bird of prey is characterized to have an accipiter shape with a very long tail and broad round wings.

As stated, the Cooper’s Hawk is found in wooded areas, however it is not uncommon for these raptors to be found in your own backyard. These hawks are commonly found in quiet neighborhoods, parks, feeders, streets and in fields. As long as there are trees, the Cooper’s Hawk could be nested in the area!

Food & Hunting

This raptor is known to mainly prey on smaller birds including Pigeons, Mourning Doves, Starlings, Robins and Jays. They also eat quail, pheasants, chickens and grouse. In addition, the Cooper’s Hawk preys on pinkie mice, squirrels, hares and chickens. If there is a small mammal in the range of this hawk, it will surely be snatched up.

When Cooper’s Hawks detect their prey, they strongly jump off the branch of a tree and quickly fly in pursuit of their prey. These birds are able to maintain their top speed in wooded areas because of their amazing agile abilities to thread through branches and other obstacles. However, these birds are usually prone to injury because of their extreme hunting style. In fact, a study showed that out 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent revealed healed fractures and broken bones.

This raptor is known to kill its prey by squeezing and holding instead of biting it. These birds have been seen drowning smaller mammals.

Behavior & Habits

Courting Cooper’s Hawks usually fly in slow wingbeats and tend to hold wings together. Males usually create a bowing display to females encouraging them to stay and build a nest.

As stated, Cooper’s Hawks usually eat small mammals in the wild. Thus, when these hawks are rescued they usually are fed thawed frozen mice and frozen rats.


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