Cooper's hawk Cooper's hawk

One of three Accipiters (a hawk family with short, broad wings and long tails, designed to hunt in wooded habitats) in Wyoming.

Fun Critter Facts

The others being the larger northern goshawk and the smaller sharp-shinned hawk, this bird of woodlands is a skillful hunter of birds and small mammals.

- Cooper's hawks are named for William Cooper who was a founding member of the New York Academy of Sciences in the early 19th century.  Cooper's hawks are the hawk commonly referred to as a "chicken hawk" due to its propensity to feed on birds, including grouse and domestic poultry.  Henry Hawk on the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons was likely a Cooper's hawk!

- Cooper's hawks feed mainly on a variety of mid-sized bird species, ranging form small songbirds to forest grouse and poultry.  In the western US, Cooper's hawks are known to feed on more mammals than they do in the east, ranging from red squirrels, to rabbits and even a few bats. 

Adult Cooper's hawks can be distinguished from immature birds by breast feather patterns.  Immature Cooper's hawks display longitudinal streaking while those of adult birds are horizontally barred, much like in the smaller sharp-shinned hawk. Cooper's hawks can be distinguished form the latter by their larger size and rounded (as opposed to a squared) tail.

- In Wyoming, Cooper's hawks typically nest in dense conifer stands and always within a tree.  The male does the bulk of nest construction.  Cooper's hawks typically lay 2 to 6 pale blue eggs, which hatch in a month or a little longer. Young are totally dependent on both parents for a period of about another month following hatching.  

- Both Cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks are fairly common visitors to those that habitually feed songbirds, especially during winter when cooper's hawks tend to occupy slightly lower altitudes.  Concentration of songbirds is very attractive to these "bird hawks,"  so feeders should not be upset or surprised that they are feeding these birds as well. 

Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news either by email or text message. Click the link below to get started.

Sign Up Today


Conserving Wildlife - Serving People