The Cooper’s Hawk is often confused with its slightly smaller relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Both species are blue-gray above and streaked rusty-red below with long tails, yellow legs, and small, hooked beaks. However, the Cooper’s Hawk has a rounded tail (Sharp-shinned Hawks have a squared-off tail), and is slightly larger at 14-20 inches long. Like most species of raptors, females are larger than males. Although Cooper’s Hawks may be found all year across the majority of the United States, individual populations make short migrations as the seasons change. In winter, Canadian populations move south into the U.S.and southern populations move south to the Gulf coast, southern Florida, and the desert southwest. In its range, the Cooper’s Hawk is one of the most numerous and adaptable raptors. While usually found in forest habitats, this species has expanded into human-altered landscapes and now frequents towns and suburbs as well. The Cooper’s Hawk is a ‘bird hawk’ capable of hunting birds from the air, and frequently enters yards to take small songbirds from feeders. With the aid of binoculars, Cooper’s Hawks may be seen perched in trees while scanning for prey. However, they are often more easily seen in the air while moving between perches or while actively hunting. As this species hunts by sight, it is only active during the day.
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