Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Cooper's Hawk


  • About 45 centimetres (18 inches) long.


  • Has a dark, blue-grey crown and back, and underparts are heavily barred with brown.

The Cooper's hawk is quite uncommon throughout its range, which extends from southern Canada to Mexico. In Alberta, the foothill and parkland natural regions host a small number of nesting pairs. Winters are spent in the southern portion of its range, occasionally southern Canada.

Natural History


  • A fast and powerful predator, the Cooper's hawk watches from the edges of clearings or flies low over treetops in search of prey.
  • The long tail provides manoeuvrability among branches, and the short, strong wing beats give it speed.
  • Prey consists almost totally of small birds.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behavior

  • Nests are generally large, flat masses of twigs constructed in trees.
  • Three to five eggs are laid in a bark or grass-lined depression in the nest.
Conservation and Management


The Cooper's hawk is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report:

Current management

Like all raptors in Alberta, the Cooper's hawk is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.

Similar Species
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk

    Like the sharp-shinned hawk, the Cooper's hawk has a dark, blue-grey crown and back, but the rounded tail tip of the Cooper's hawk distinguishes it from the sharp-shinned hawk.


Page Information

Posted: Nov 20, 2014