Cooper's hawk

Accipiter cooperii

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


Federal Status: Not listed; Cooper’s hawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.


Distribution: Year-round resident in New Hampshire but less common in the north.


Description: 14-20” long with a 28-34” wingspan. Both males and females have a dark gray back and rusty barred chest. Long, banded tail is rounded when perched.


Voice: Both males and females make a loud, “cak-cak-cak” that lasts between 2-5 seconds during the breeding season. Other times of year mostly silent.


Commonly Confused Species: Sharp-shinned hawk’s tail is square when perched.

Habitat: Mature hardwood, softwood and mixed forests, including small woodlots and suburban forests.


Nesting: Cooper’s hawks begin reproducing at 2 years old. Nests are built in the canopy of coniferous or deciduous trees and will often use old crow nests. Females typically lay 3-6 eggs between mid April and mid June. Chicks hatch after 30-36 days of incubation and can fly after another 30-36 days in the nest.


Diet: Primarily on small to medium sized birds and small mammals.