|Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) 14-20 inches long,
wingspan 29-37 inches
Cooper's Hawk is a medium-sized accipiter that is common in Arizona and is able to adapt to a wide range of habitats. It typically feeds on smaller birds, mice, rabbits, and small reptiles that it captures by watching for prey from a perch and then attacking with a sudden burst of speed. Relatively short wings and a long tail provide agility in wooded areas. It flies low and is usually found in riparian areas, brushy high desert terrain, or canyons. Look for it at Sonoita creek and in the canyons of the Huachuca and Chiricahua mountains.
Cooper's Hawk can sometimes be confused with the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk which has very similar coloring. As is the case with many birds of prey, the female of these two species is larger than the male, with the result that in some cases large female sharpies can be mistaken for small, male Cooper's Hawks, since the birds are nearly identical in all plumages. Cooper's Hawks, however, can be noted for their much larger heads and bills. Additionally, Cooper's often perch on utility poles and fence posts, while the Sharp-shinned almost always stays within the cover of tree branches.
USFWS photo by Lee Karney