Immature Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperi) are generally considered raptors of mature forests, open woodlands and wood edges. However, as extremely adaptive and resilient birds, they now demonstrate the greatest flexibility in range of ecosystems and choice of nesting habitats of the North American accipiters. They can be found nesting and hunting  in cities and suburban areas. Bird feeders, where the small and mid-sized birds that form the main bulk of a Cooper’s hawk’s diet congregate, are favorite haunts of this predator.

The rounded tail and crisp breast streaking that does not extend low onto the belly distinguish this immature Cooper’s hawk from the similar-looking sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) juvenile. Adults of the cooperi species have a red eye, blue-grey upper parts and darker crown.

Cooper’s hawks hunt by stealth, standing upright on a tree branch or other perch with its tail trailing straight down.  When prey is spotted it pounces with a burst of speed to overtake the prey.

This immature Cooper’s hawk was hunting along the Rail Trail in Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge near Salem OR.

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