Cooper's hawk

COMMON NAME: Cooper’s hawkCooper's Hawk

Accipiter cooperii

Medium-sized hawk from 14 to 20 inches in length. The adults have a gray/blue back with a white underside, horizontally streaked with rufous bars. The head has a black cap, and there are three black bands on the tail. The outer tail feathers are shorter than the rest of the tail feathers, giving the tail a rounded appearance, which—apart from size—can easily distinguish this bird from the sharp-shinned hawk. Males and females look the same, but the female is about one-third larger than the male. The immature birds are brown above and vertically streaked with brown below. The adult's eye is orange to red; immature birds have yellow eyes.

RANGE:Cooper's Hawk Baby
A North American species, Cooper’s hawks breed from southern Canada to the southern part of the United States. They are migratory, but a few remain in Minnesota throughout the winter.


A forest-dwelling bird found in deciduous woodlands but also have adapted extremely well to urban areas.

Cooper’s hawks build a stick nest high in the middle of a deciduous tree, in a crotch or a horizontal branch, where they lay two to five eggs. They are known to return to the same area to nest year after year.


Known as a predator of birds, the Cooper’s hawk also feeds on mammals, particularly squirrels and chipmunks. Once known as a regular denizen of poultry yards, it is one of many “chicken hawks.”

RAPTOR CENTER DATA:Cooper's Hawk Skull

Cooper’s hawks are now the third most common patient admitted to the clinic, with over 100 seen annually. 

The population is stable.