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Merlin Bird ID

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    Cooper's Hawk

    Silhouette AccipitersAccipiters

    Cooper's Hawk

    Accipiter cooperii
    • ORDER: Accipitriformes
    • FAMILY: Accipitridae
    Basic Description

    Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Cooper's HawkRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Finding a Cooper’s Hawk is typically a matter of keeping your eyes peeled – they’re common but stealthy, and smaller than other common hawks like the red-tailed, so your eye might skip over them in flight. Look for the flap-flap-glide flight style and remarkably long tail to zero in on these birds in an instant. During migration, hawkwatches on ridgetops in both East and West are great places to see lots of Cooper's Hawks.

    Other Names
    • Gavilán de Cooper (Spanish)
    • Épervier de Cooper (French)

    Backyard Tips

    If you put out seed for birds in your backyard, there’s a chance you’ll also attract the attention of a Cooper’s Hawk. While catching smaller birds is just doing what comes naturally for a Cooper’s Hawk, many of us would prefer not to share the responsibility for the deaths. If a Cooper’s Hawk takes up residence in your yard, you can take your feeders down for a few days and the hawk will move on.

    • Cool Facts