Guide to Boreal Birds
Like its smaller look-alike the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's feeds mainly on birds, which it chases relentlessly through the woods. It also takes small mammals and, in the West, lizards and snakes. During incubation and the early stages of brooding the young, the male bird does all the hunting, bringing food to both his mate and the nestlings. Cooper's Hawks mature rapidly for birds their size; a full 25 percent of young birds breed the year after they are hatched, and the rest the year after that.
14-20" (36-51 cm). W. 28" (71 cm). A crow-sized hawk, with long tail and short rounded wings. Adult slate-gray above, with dark cap, and finely rust-barred below. Immature brown above, whitish below with fine streaks. Tail tip rounded, not squared-off. See Sharp-shinned Hawk.
4 or 5 dull-white eggs, spotted with brown, on a bulky platform of sticks and twigs, usually more than 20' (6 m) above the ground.
Deciduous and, less often, coniferous forests, especially those interrupted by meadows and clearings.
Breeds from British Columbia east to Manitoba and Canadian Maritimes, and south to Mexico, Gulf Coast, and northern Florida; absent or local throughout much of Great Plains. Winters from Central America north to British Columbia and southern New England.