Cooper's Hawk
Accipiter cooperii
December 2009

Although I've promised myself to move forward with different bird photos, I had to admit that my Cooper's hawk photos from 2005 left a lot to be desired. Therefore, I've rewritten this page and added substitute photos. I hope Cooper's hawks everywhere appreciate that.

A Cooper's hawk is a medium-size accipiter. "Accipiters are short-winged, long-tailed, forest-dwelling raptors" (from Hawks: Peterson Field Guides, by William S. Clark and Brian K. Wheeler).

Immature Cooper's hawk in game land
  Cooper's hawks look similar to sharp-shinned hawks, and it can be rough to tell the difference. A Cooper's hawk has a rounded, white edge to its tail, whereas the sharp-shinned hawk has a square edge (and less of a terminal band).

Size can also be used to tell them apart. From small to large, we have male sharp-shin, female sharp-shin, male Cooper's, and female Cooper's. The problem is that female sharp-shins and male Cooper's can both be approximately the same size.

The hawk in the next photo was large, and I'd call it an immature Cooper's. (Mature Cooper's and sharp-shins have red eyes.)

Immature Cooper's hawk outside my home

Sometimes it's easy to identify a Cooper's hawk from flight. There's little doubt that not only had this immature Cooper's hawk enjoyed lunch recently (via its full crop) but also its tail is well rounded. Thank goodness for the easy ones.
Immature Cooper's hawk over Jo Hayes vista

Photo note: I used a Pentax K200D, with the SMC- 1000mm lens, for the first and last photos and used a Pentax K20D, with the SMC-DA 55-300mm lens for the middle photo. All three pictures were taken during October and November 2009.

My Pennsylvania bird list   ||   Cooper's hawk in a mob

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