Birds – The Cooper’s Hawk

(A. Cooperi) resembles the Sharp-shinned Hawk except in size, being from fourteen to twenty inches long, and by the fact that the end of the tail is rounded rather than straight or slightly notched. It does not range quite so far north, its breeding range being, with the exception of Alaska, nearly coextensive with the United States, where, however, it is widely distributed. It is even more destructive to birds and poultry than the last, possibly doing more harm than all other Hawks combined. It does not appear to be fond of small rodents, insects, or reptiles, and apparently only takes them when other food fails. Dr. Fisher found that of 133 whose stomachs were examined, 86 had been feeding on poultry, game birds, or other birds, and only 17 on mammals, frogs, lizards, and insects. In the remainder of those examined the stomach was empty. Bendire gives the following account of the habits of this species : ” The flight of Cooper’s Hawk is both easy and graceful, and ordinarily not especially swift. He may often be seen skimming along close to the ground, in rather a desultory manner, usually skirting the edges of open woods or clearings; but once in sight and active pursuit of its selected prey, it darts in and out through the densest thickets with amazing swiftness, where it would seem impossible for it to follow successfully. It manages, however, with the assistance of its long tail, which helps it very materially, to turn suddenly and double with remarkable ease, even in dense undergrowth, arresting its flight instantly, and darting off, perhaps at a right angle, the next second to capture its selected victim.” Ordinarily when the nesting season arrives they select as a nesting site the abandoned nest of a Crow, one of the larger Hawks’ nests, or a squirrel’s nest, or when all these sources fail they may build a home of their own. They do not seem to have especial preference for any variety of tree, nor do they place the nest at any great height from the ground, for in the West where there is a scarcity of suitable timber the nest may be no more than ten feet up. The number of eggs ranges from two to six, four or five being more common.