Cooper’s Hawk

Accipiter cooperii
Range Map

The Cooper’s Hawk is a year-round resident in most of the continental USA. Some will breed into southern Canada and some will winter in Mexico. These raptors specialize in hunting passerine birds and are very skilled at flying through dense growth to reach their prey.

Science does not recognize any subspecies of Cooper’s Hawks, but genetic studies show birds in the upper mid-west USA differ from those found in the Pacific Northwest. This shows a separation in the gene pool, apparently from the divisions created during the last ice age. But for the time being, science considers these hawks monotypic.

My home in southern California hosts nesting Cooper’s Hawks. July is a time I can count on the wheezing calls of juvenile hawks as they insist on being fed by their hard-working parents. Not every year do the young survive. I sometimes find the remains of young birds who didn’t make the grade. When these hawks are about, all the finches, woodpeckers, bluebirds, titmice, and others go on alert, and any bathing or drinking at the water feature gets put on hold.

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