20 Cooper’s Hawk Fun Facts (with Photos & Information)

In this article, we will be discussing 20 Cooper’s Hawk Fun Facts with Photos & Information. Some of the information includes: What do they eat? How fast can they fly? Are they endangered? Do they migrate and much more! Read on to find out more about these amazing birds


  • Identification: Cooper’s Hawks are one of the most recognizable birds in North America. They are about the size of a crow, and have a light black cap, small hooked bill, red eyes, with a bluish-gray upper body. Underneath they are whitish, with a light reddish-brown barring throughout the chin, wing and breast, gradually fading to white on the lower belly. They have short, rounded wings, and a black, and white barring that is visible in flight only. They also have a long tail, and yellow legs, and feet. 
  • Length: 14.2-15.7″ in. (36-40 cm)
  • Weight: 7.7-14.5 oz. (218-412 g)
  • Wingspan: 24.8-35.8 in. (63-91 cm)
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Accipiter
  • Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii
  • Range: Breeds in North America (USA & Canada), and migrates to Central America for the winter.
  • Habitat: They mainly live in woodlands or forests but will also inhabit areas near rivers, fields, wetlands, farmlands, suburbs or even towns if food is plentiful there.
  • Diet: Small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rats, and fish.
  • Worldwide Population: 850,000 individuals.​​​​​​​
  • Conservation Status: Listed Least Concern (Population is increasing).

Cooper’s Hawks soar through the sky at 30 mph.

These raptors typically fly at cruising speeds of approximately 30 to 40 miles per hour. When they spot prey from a distance, Cooper’s hawks will soar into a long glide and then accelerate through the sky to catch their meal with their talons.

How the Cooper’s Hawk got its name.

Cooper’s Hawks were first named by a French ornithologist named Charles Lucien Bonaparte, to honor his friend William Cooper, in 1828. The two met when Cooper was teaching the Emperor of France how to hunt birds and animals on their hunting grounds at Fontainebleau. 

Cooper’s Hawks are named for their hunting style.

These hawks are named for their hunting style: they perch on trees or poles and wait for prey to pass by before swooping down in a short arc and grabbing it with their talons. This technique, called “hawking,” gives them an advantage over other birds of prey that rely on speed to catch prey.

Cooper’s Hawks are members of the Accipitridae family.

Cooper’s hawks are members of the Accipitridae family, which includes other raptors such as eagles and ospreys.

They inhabit all the United States except for Alaska and Hawaii.

The Cooper’s Hawk is the only bird of prey that lives in all 50 states, except for Alaska and Hawaii. They are usually seen perching on telephone poles or other tall structures while hunting for rodents such as squirrels, rats, mice, and gophers. Inhabit many types of human-built structures as well. For example: abandoned buildings; billboards; bridges; utility poles; and chimneys are just some examples of man-made places where these birds ​​​​​​​have been spotted living or roosting.​​​​​​​

Cooper's hawk in birdbath
Image by mpmochrie from Pixabay

Cooper’s Hawks usually nest in coniferous or deciduous trees.

Cooper’s hawks typically nest in coniferous or deciduous trees in open country near water sources such as rivers, lakes, or wetlands. ​​​​​​​

Cooper’s hawks are monogamous.

Did you know that Cooper’s hawks are monogamous? This means that they only mate with one partner for life.  The birds share food with each other, as well as incubate eggs together and feed nestlings cooperatively. They hunt together, defend their territory together, Cooper’s hawks will usually only seek out a new partner if one of the partners dies. 

Females are 20% larger and 40% heavier than males.

The female Cooper’s hawk is 20% larger and 40% heavier than the male. The male typically weighs 215 to 390 g (7.6 to 13.8 oz) while females weigh 305.8 to 701 g (0.674 to 1.545 lb). 

Cooper’s Hawks have an average wingspan of 3 feet.

The Coopers Hawk is a bird of prey with an average wingspan of 3 feet, which is on par with most other large hawks like Red-tailed Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks.

The Cooper’s Hawk dives at 60 mph to catch prey!

Cooper’s Hawks will typically perch on a high spot to watch for prey below them, then dive straight down at speeds over 60 miles per hour to catch their victim. This process often takes less than 10 seconds from the time it first spots its prey until it captures it.

Cooper’s Hawks are diurnal creatures.

Cooper’s Hawks hunt during daylight hours because they are diurnal creatures. They use the heat of the sun to their advantage when hunting prey, which helps them see more clearly and identify possible food sources more easily. In general, Cooper’s Hawks will eat almost anything from insects to small mammals like mice or squirrels but have been observed as eating smaller birds too. 

Cooper's Hawk perched on fence post
Photo by Jim Strasma on Unsplash

Cooper’s hawks can be found across North America.

They’re found in many states and provinces all over North America, but they primarily reside in habitats with dense forest cover in the states of Florida, and California.

They build their nests out of twigs and plant material.

Their nests are constructed by the female with twigs, bark, pine needles and other plant material, usually in trees or on cliff ledges. These hawks will also occasionally use man-made structures such as bridges for nesting sites but will also use nest boxes that have been erected for them by humans. They also choose a tree that has plenty of cover, so it will be less likely to be spotted by predators.

They can live up to 12 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.

Cooper’s hawks live about 12 years in the wild, but can live up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. In captivity, they are often bred by humans for use as a falconry bird or pet.

A Cooper’s Hawk can eat 12% of its body weight daily.

A Cooper’s Hawk can eat an amount of food equivalent to 12% of its body weight. This means that if it weighs 400 grams, it can eat 48 grams worth of food in a day!

The Coopers Hawk is the 3rd smallest hawk in North America.

The Cooper’s Hawk is the 3rd smallest hawk in North America. The average size of a male Coopers Hawk is 14 -18″ inches tall and weighing about 10-12 ounces. Females are larger, at 17-20″ inches and 1-1.2 pounds on average. They have a wingspan of about 24.5-35.5″ inches, which makes them slightly larger than the other two smallest hawks, the Sharp Shinned Hawk, and the Sparrow Hawk (American Kestrel).​​​​​​​

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Male Cooper’s Hawks are aggressive during mating season.

Male Cooper’s Hawks are aggressive during mating season. During this time, it can be difficult to get near them. This aggression can be seen as they patrol their territory and harass other males, or females, who dare to enter their territory. They will also engage in physical violence with other males such as wing wrestling, locking talons, and pushing each other off the perch.

Nesting Facts

  • Nesting Period: Mid-March & late May (depends on location)
  • Number of Broods Yearly: 1 brood
  • Clutch Size: 2 – 6 eggs
  • Incubation Duration: 30-35 days
  • Nestling Duration: 28-35 days
  • Egg Color: Light blue or whitish blue.
  • Egg Length: 1.8-2.0″ in. (4.5-5.0 cm)
  • Egg Width: 1.3-1.6″ in. (3.4-4.1)