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Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

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Cooper's Hawk is a medium-sized hawk
Hawk
The term hawk can be used in several ways:* In strict usage in Australia and Africa, to mean any of the species in the subfamily Accipitrinae, which comprises the genera Accipiter, Micronisus, Melierax, Urotriorchis and Megatriorchis. The large and widespread Accipiter genus includes goshawks,...

 native to the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n continent and found from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. As in many birds of prey, the male is smaller than the female. The birds found east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 tend to be larger on average than the birds found to the west.

Taxonomy


Cooper's Hawk was first described by French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte
Charles Lucien Bonaparte
Charles Lucien Jules Laurent Bonaparte, 2nd Prince of Canino and Musignano was a French naturalist and ornithologist.-Biography:...

 in 1828. It is a member of the goshawk genus Accipiter
Accipiter
The genus Accipiter is a group of birds of prey in the family Accipitridae, many of which are named as goshawks and sparrowhawks. They can be anatomically distinguished from their relatives by the lack of a procoracoid foramen. Two small and aberrant species usually placed here do possess a large...

. This bird was named after the naturalist William Cooper
William Cooper (conchologist)
William Cooper was an American conchologist and collector.Cooper studied zoology in Europe from 1821 to 1824, and afterwards travelled to Nova Scotia, Kentucky and the Bahamas collecting specimens. Although he was not an author himself his specimens were of great help to others, such as John James...

, one of the founders of the New York Lyceum of Natural History (later the New York Academy of Sciences
New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is the third oldest scientific society in the United States. An independent, non-profit organization with more than members in 140 countries, the Academy’s mission is to advance understanding of science and technology...

) in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Other common names; Big Blue Darter, Chicken Hawk, Hen Hawk, Mexican Hawk, Quail Hawk, Striker and Swift Hawk.

Description



The average size of an adult male ranges from 220 to 410 g (7.7-14.5 oz) with a length between 35 and 46 cm (14-18 in). The adult male is significantly smaller than the average female, which are 330 to 680 g (11.7-24 oz) and 42 to 50 cm (17-20 in) long. Wingspan ranges from 62 to 90 cm (25-36 in). Individuals living in the eastern regions tend to be larger and heavier than those in the western regions.
All have short rounded wings and a very long tail with dark bands, round-ended at the tip. Adults have red eyes and have a black cap, with blue-gray upper parts and white underparts with fine, thin, reddish bars. Their tail is blue gray on top and pale underneath, barred with black bands.

Immatures have yellow eyes and have a brown cap, with brown upper parts and pale underparts with thin black streaks mostly ending at the belly. Their tail is brown on top and pale underneath, barred with dark bands. The eyes of this hawk, as in most predatory birds, face forward, enabling good depth perception for hunting and catching prey while flying at top speeds. They have hooked bills that are well adapted for tearing flesh of prey. Immatures are somewhat larger than a Sharp-shinned Hawk and smaller than a Northern Goshawk, though small males nearly overlap with large female Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small hawk. In fact, "sharp-shins" or "sharpies" are the smallest to reside in USA and Canada, though some Neotropical species are smaller...

s, and large female Cooper's Hawks nearly overlap with small male Goshawks. The Cooper's Hawk appears long-necked in flight and has been described by birdwatchers as looking like a "flying cross". The Cooper’s Hawk is seen mostly flying with quick, consecutive wing beats and a short glide, though they may also soar.

Distribution and habitat


Their breeding range extends from southern Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to northern Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. They are generally distributed more to the south than the other North American Accipiter
Accipiter
The genus Accipiter is a group of birds of prey in the family Accipitridae, many of which are named as goshawks and sparrowhawks. They can be anatomically distinguished from their relatives by the lack of a procoracoid foramen. Two small and aberrant species usually placed here do possess a large...

s, the Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small hawk. In fact, "sharp-shins" or "sharpies" are the smallest to reside in USA and Canada, though some Neotropical species are smaller...

 and the Northern Goshawk. Birds from most of the Canadian and northern-U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

-range migrate
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 in winter, and some Cooper's Hawks winter as far south as Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

). The Cooper’s Hawk occur in various types of mixed deciduous
Deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

 forests and open woodlands, including small woodlots, riparian woodlands in dry country, open and pinyon
Pinyon pine
The pinyon pine group grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten...

 woodlands, and forested mountainous regions and also now nests in many cities. They were once thought to be adverse to cities and towns, but are now fairly common urban and suburban birds. The cities provide plenty Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae . In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon"....

 and Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
The Mourning Dove is a member of the dove family . The bird is also called the Turtle Dove or the American Mourning Dove or Rain Dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina Pigeon or Carolina Turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds...

 for the Cooper’s Hawk to prey on.

Feeding



These birds capture prey from cover or while flying quickly through dense vegetation, relying almost totally on surprise. One study showed that this is a quite dangerous hunting style. More than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons were investigated and 23% revealed healed fractures in the bones of the chest. Most prey are mid-sized birds, with typical prey including American Robin
American Robin
The American Robin or North American Robin is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the flycatcher family...

s, jay
Jay
The jays are several species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy, passerine birds in the crow family Corvidae. The names jay and magpie are somewhat interchangeable, and the evolutionary relationships are rather complex...

s, woodpecker
Woodpecker
Woodpeckers are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes. They are one subfamily in the family Picidae, which also includes the piculets and wrynecks. They are found worldwide and include about 180 species....

s, European Starling
European Starling
The Common Starling , also known as the European Starling or just Starling, is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae.This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia...

s,quail, icterid
Icterid
The Icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The family is extremely varied in size, shape, behavior and coloration...

s and dove
Dove
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

s. Birds preyed on can range in size from wood-warblers to Ring-necked Pheasants. They may also prey upon the raptor American Kestrel
American Kestrel
The American Kestrel , sometimes colloquially known as the Sparrow Hawk, is a small falcon, and the only kestrel found in the Americas. It is the most common falcon in North America, and is found in a wide variety of habitats. At long, it is also the smallest falcon in North America...

. They have been known to rob nests and also eat small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s like chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chipmunks are small striped squirrels native to North America and Asia. They are usually classed either as a single genus with three subgenera, or as three genera.-Etymology and taxonomy:...

s, hare
Hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

s, mice
MICE
-Fiction:*Mice , alien species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*The Mice -Acronyms:* "Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions", facilities terminology for events...

, squirrel
Squirrel
Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

s, and bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s. Other possibilities are lizard
Lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

s, frog
Frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s and large insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s. It normally catches its prey with its feet and kills it by repeatedly squeezing it and holding it away from its body until it dies. They have also been seen drowning their prey, holding it underwater until it stops moving. The hawks, in addition, often pluck the feather
Feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

s off their prey on a post or other perch. They are increasingly seen hunting smaller songbird
Songbird
A songbird is a bird belonging to the suborder Passeri of the perching birds . Another name that is sometimes seen as scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird"...

s in backyards with feeders. They will perch in trees overlooking the feeders, then swoop down and scatter the other birds in order to capture one in flight. These hawks can also pursue their prey on the ground by half running and half flying.

Courtship


The Cooper’s Hawks are monogamous and most mate for life. Pairs will breed once a year and raise one brood per breeding season. Courtship displays include stylized flights with the wings positioned in a deep arc. During their flight displays the male will begin by diving toward the female. A slow speed-chase follows involving the male flying around the female exposing his expanded under tail coverts to her. The male raises his wings high above the back and flies in a wide arc with slow, rhythmic flapping. Courting usually occurs on bright, sunny days, in midmorning. After pairing has occurred, the males make a bowing display before beginning to build the nest.

Breeding



Their breeding habitats are forested areas. The breeding pair builds a stick nest in large trees. Over a two week period the pair builds the nest. The nests are piles of sticks around 27 inches in diameter and 6- 17 inches high with a cup- shaped depression in the middle that is 8 inches across and 4 inches deep. Their nests are built in pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

s, oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

s, Douglas- firs, beeches, spruces, and other tree species usually on flat ground rather than on a hillside. The nests typically are about 25–50 feet high off the ground, halfway up the tree, and out on a horizontal branch. The clutch
Clutch
A clutch is a mechanical device which provides for the transmission of power from one component to another...

 size is usually 3 to 5 eggs. The cobalt-blue eggs average about 48 x 38 mm (1.9 x 1.5 in) and weigh about 43 g (1.5 oz). The female incubates the eggs between 30 to 36 days. The hatchling
Hatchling
In oviparous biology, a hatchling is the newborn of animals that develop and emerge from within hard-shell eggs. The offspring of birds are often hatched naked and with their eyes closed. The hatchling relies totally on its parents for feeding and warmth. Hatchlings precede nestlings in the chick's...

s are about 28 g (1 oz) and 9 cm (3.8 in) long and are completely covered in white down. They are brooded for about two weeks by the female, while her mate forages for food. The fledging stage is reached at 25 to 34 days of age, though the offspring will return to the nest to be fed until they become independent around 8 weeks. Eggs and nestlings are preyed on, rarely, by raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, crow
Crow
Crows form the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-size jackdaws to the Common Raven of the Holarctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents and several...

s as well as other competing Cooper's Hawks. Adults rarely fall prey to Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is a bird of prey, one of three species colloquially known in the United States as the "chickenhawk," though it rarely preys on standard sized chickens. It breeds throughout most of North America, from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West...

s, Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl, , also known as the Tiger Owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.-Description:...

s, Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl is a species of eagle owl resident in much of Eurasia. It is also one of the largest types of owls.-Description:The Eagle Owl is a large and powerful bird, smaller than the Golden Eagle but larger than the Snowy Owl...

s, Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache"...

s, Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas...

s, and Northern Goshawks.

Communication


Cooper’s Hawks communicate using vocalizations and displays. Vocal is probably preferred over display, because the denseness of their habitat could prevent displays from being seen from a distance. Males are usually submissive to females and will listen for reassuring call notes the females make when they are willing to be approached. The males have a higher pitched voice than females.

Lifespan


Cooper’s Hawks have been known to live as long as 12 years in the wild. However, the oldest known living hawk was 20 years and 4 months old.

Status and conservation



At one time, Cooper's Hawks were heavily hunted in persecution for preying on poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 and were called "chicken hawks". It is now known that predation by these hawks on domestic animals borders are negligible, and they are rarely hunted these days. Cooper's Hawks' breeding success was also reduced by the use of the pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 DDT
DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....

, but the ban of DDT ended that threat. Since then, the adaptable Cooper's Hawk has thrived. However, one threat facing Cooper’s Hawks today is the degradation and loss of habitat. Management activities like logging may make their former habitat unsuitable for breeding.

External links