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Cooper's Hawk

Photos © Judy Gallagher, Reifel Sanctuary, Ladner, British Columbia; January 2010
Text by Timothy Johnson and Devon Houghton

Cooper's Hawk
Accipiter cooperii
Family - Accipitradae

The Cooper's Hawk is a bird of prey that usually lives in Northern Virgina during its migration from points North.

Their wingspan stretches from 25 to 36inches. All have short rounded wings, and a very long tail with dark bands, which is rounded at the tip.

Adults have red eyes and the top of their head is black, with blue-gray upper parts and white under parts with thin reddish bars. The tail is blue-gray on top, pale underneath and is barred with black bands. The adult female is much larger then a adult male.

Cooper's Hawks build large stick nests, usually the largest trees. A pair of the hawks build their nest over a period of two weeks.

The Cooper's Hawk is a bird of prey. They capture their prey from hiding behind cover or while flying very quickly thourgh vegatation, making it rely on the element of suprise.

When it catches a bird, it kills it by repeadtly squeezing the prey in its' talons. It normally eats small to mid-sized birds, such as chickens, from which it's stealing of derives it's nick-name, a "chicken hawk."

They have also been seen robbing other bird's nests. Cooper's Hawks normally live to be about twelve years old in the wild, but the oldest known ever was twenty years, four months old.

It is considered by some to be among the greatest fliers on Earth.