|Conservation status||Numbers declined in mid-20th century, possibly owing to effects of DDT and other pesticides. Some recovery since, and numbers probably stable in most areas.|
|Family||Hawks and Eagles|
|Habitat||Mature forest, open woodlands, wood edges, river groves. Nests in coniferous, deciduous, and mixed woods, typically those with tall trees and with openings or edge habitat nearby. Also found among trees along rivers through open country, and increasingly in suburbs and cities where some tall trees exist for nest sites. In winter may be in fairly open country, especially in west.|
Usually hunts by stealth, moving from perch to perch in dense cover, listening and watching, then putting on a burst of speed to overtake prey. Sometimes cruises low over ground, approaching from behind shrubbery to take prey by surprise.
3-5, sometimes 1-7. Pale bluish-white. Incubation is mostly by female, usually 34-36 days. Male brings food to female, and then incubates for a few minutes while female is eating. Young: Female broods young during first 2 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, gives it to female at perch near nest, and she feeds it to young. Young may climb about in nest tree after about 4 weeks, can fly at about 4-5 weeks.
Female broods young during first 2 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, gives it to female at perch near nest, and she feeds it to young. Young may climb about in nest tree after about 4 weeks, can fly at about 4-5 weeks.
Mostly birds and small mammals. Feeds mainly on medium-sized birds, in the size range of robins, jays, flickers, also on larger and smaller birds. Also eats many small mammals, such as chipmunks, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, mice, bats. Sometimes eats reptiles, insects.
In courtship (and occasionally at other times), both sexes may fly over territory with slow, exaggerated wingbeats. Male feeds female for up to a month before she begins laying eggs. Nest site is in tree, either deciduous or coniferous, usually 25-50' above ground. Often placed on top of some pre-existing foundation, such as old nest of large bird or squirrel, or clump of mistletoe. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is bulky structure of sticks, lined with softer material such as strips of bark.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Found all year in much of range, but northernmost breeders move south for winter. Migrates by day. Especially in fall, migrants often concentrate along ridges and coastlines in certain weather conditions.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLoud cack-cack-cack-cack.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Cooper's Hawk
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Cooper's Hawk
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.