Cooper's Hawk

Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii

Pictures: (click for larger images)

This was an immature female Cooper's Hawk perched high up in the Pink Cedar tree in the UCLA Botanical Garden. Photo taken by Jason Finley through Bobby Walsh's spotting scope.  2/26/05
She was sitting in the tree with a flock of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets who apparently eventually agitated her enough to make her leave!
A juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched high up in a Eucalyptus tree in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  You can see the distinctive stripes on the underside of the tail too. Photo by Jason Finley using Bobby Walsh's spotting scope., 6/8/05.
A juvenile Cooper's Hawk again in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  It looks like it was perched much closer to the ground this time.  Photo by John Nemcovich, 7/22/05.
An adult Cooper's Hawk.  I was VERY surprised to see this one perching on a tree not ten feet from my balcony and bird feeder!  The feeder has been taken down for now, so we don't entice small birds into being easy targets.  Photo by Jason Finley 9/9/05 (large picture!)


Female Cooper's Hawk looking around (8 seconds), 6/8/05: coopershawk1.MPG

Same hawk, starting to get antsy.  She took off just after this (41 seconds), 6/8/05: coopershawk2.MPG

-Videos by Bill Mettler.

Description: Very large.  14-20" in length (beak to tail) and about 28" in wingspan.  Noticeably smaller than the Red-tailed Hawk, not much bigger than a crow.  It looks similar to the Sharp-shinned Hawk, which we also probably get from time to time.  A difference is the Cooper's Hawk's tail is rounded off on the end.  The tail is long and has fat stripes.  Adults are dark gray on their backs, with a darker head and lighter chest that has some reddish-orange sripes.  Juveniles are brown on their backs and whitish on chest, with streaks.

Sound: Listen to a Cooper's Hawk calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds Guide.

Commonality/Seasonality: Uncommon.  Recently they've been present throughout the year, but in small numbers.

Location: You probably won't see these guys perching high up out in the open as much as the red-tailed hawks; they like to be more concealed.  So you may see one perching on an inner tree branch, surrounded by leaves, or you may see one swooping to or from some other cover.  There seems to be at least one that spends a lot of time in the UCLA Botanical Garden. It has also been seen perching on the nearby Dental School building.

Notes: Preys on other birds, and likely also small mammals.


About the Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk both:

This species and the next [Cooper's Hawk] will probably increase with the growth of shrubbery.

Specifically about the Cooper's Hawk:

Quite a number of records at various times of the year except April to August.  Breeding birds from the Santa Monica Mountains and northward wander down by September.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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