Cooper’s Hawk

Description

Cooper’s Hawk, aka chicken hawk, hen hawk, quail hawk swift hawk striker, flying cross and big blue darter.  Coloration: adults are steely blue-gray with warm reddish bars on the underparts and thick dark bands on the tail, eyes are red. Juveniles are brown above and crisply streaked with brown on the upper breast, giving them a somewhat hooded look. Immature birds eyes are yellow and like most predatory birds are facing forward, enabling good depth perception for hunting and catching prey while flying at top speeds.
(Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Habitat
Behavior
Diseases
Resources
Habitat

Cooper's hawks are a woodland raptor. It's short, powerful, rounded wings and relatively long tail ensure maneuverability in dense cover, it is well adapted for quick pursuit of forest birds and mammals. Like many other species, degradation and habitat loss is taking its toll of the species population. (Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Behavior

Cooper's Hawks fly with a flap-flap-glide pattern, typical of accipiters. They rarely flap continuously even crossing over large open areas. Relying heavily on surprise, they fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side. It normally catches its prey with its feet and kills it by repeatedly squeezing it and holding it away from its body. Cooper's hawks prey almost exclusively on small to mid-sized birds, but will augment their diet with small mammals, or lizards, frogs or snakes. (source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Breeding
Cooper's hawks are monogamous, but most do not mate for life. They generally breed once a year and raise one brood. The pair builds the nest over a two week period--a pile of sticks 28" in diameter and 6"-17" high with a cup-like depression 8" across by 4" deep. The nest are built in the tops of trees, 25-50' off the ground on a horizontal branch. A clutch of cobalt-blue eggs, usually 3-5 is is incubated by the female for30-36 days. The hatchlings are covered with white down. The female broods them for approximately two weeks, while the male forages for good. Fledgling stage: 25 - 34 days, though the offspring may return to the next nest for food up to eight (8) weeks. Egg and nestlings are preyed upon by raccoons, crows, and competing Cooper's hawks. Adults can be prey also to larger hawks and other larger raptors. The average lifespan can be as long as 12 years in the wild. The oldest was documented to be 20 years and four months.

Hawkwatch

Diseases

Zoonotic diseases, those transmitted from bird/animal to human are rare. Generally birds carry the pathogen which can be transmitted when bitten by a mosquito, and the mosquito transferring the pathogen to a human when biting. Diseases can, however, be transmitted within bird populations.

Resources

Hotline Info

Any calls relating to raptors/birds of prey should be referred to Wild Care (508) 240-2255.

Advice

Actionable