Accipiter cooperii - (Bonaparte, 1828)
Cooper's Hawk
Other English Common Names: Cooper's hawk
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Accipiter cooperii (Bonaparte, 1828) (TSN 175309)
French Common Names: épervier de Cooper
Spanish Common Names: Gavilán de Cooper
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100417
Element Code: ABNKC12040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 7665

© Larry Master

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae Accipiter
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online:
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Accipiter cooperii
Taxonomic Comments: Constitutes a superspecies with A. gundlachi and A. bicolor (AOU 1998). See Whaley and White (1994) for information on geographic variation.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 26Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large breeding range throughout the forested portions of the contiguous U.S., southern Canada, and northern Mexico; populations have stabilized or are increasing in some parts of range, but the species has not fully recovered from the drastic decline of the period 1940-1970+ throughout much of the eastern part of the range; reasons for this lack of recovery are unknown; potentially threatened by the use of organochlorine biocides in Central America and locally by habitat loss.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5N,N4N5M (29Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3B,S4N), Arizona (S4), Arkansas (S1B,S3N), California (S4), Colorado (S3S4B,S4N), Connecticut (S2B), Delaware (S1B), District of Columbia (S3N,SHB), Florida (S3), Georgia (S3S4), Idaho (S4), Illinois (S3), Indiana (S3B), Iowa (S3B), Kansas (S3B,S4N), Kentucky (S4B,S4N), Louisiana (S2B,S3N), Maine (S3S4B,S3?N), Maryland (S4B,S4N), Massachusetts (S4B,S5N), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNRB,SNRN), Mississippi (S2B), Missouri (S3), Montana (S4B), Navajo Nation (S4), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S3), New Hampshire (S2B), New Jersey (S2B,S4N), New Mexico (S4B,S4N), New York (S4), North Carolina (S3S4B,S4N), North Dakota (SU), Ohio (S3S4), Oklahoma (S2S3), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S4B,S5N), Rhode Island (S1B,S3N), South Carolina (S3?), South Dakota (S3B), Tennessee (S3B), Texas (S4B,S3N), Utah (S4B,S3S4N), Vermont (S3B,S3N), Virginia (S3B,S3N), Washington (S4B,S4N), West Virginia (S3B,S4N), Wisconsin (S4B,S4N), Wyoming (S4)
Canada Alberta (S4B), British Columbia (S5), Manitoba (S4S5B), New Brunswick (S1S2B,S1S2M), Nova Scotia (S1?B), Ontario (S4), Quebec (S3S4), Saskatchewan (S4B,S2M,S2N)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Not at Risk (01Apr1996)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: Its population has recovered from earlier times when numbers were depressed because of DDT bioaccumulation. The species shows considerable adaptability to environmental changes and no significant limiting factors have been identified.

Status history: Designated Special Concern in April 1983. Status re-examined and designated Not at Risk in April 1996.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: southern British Columbia across southern Canada to central Saskatchewan, southern Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces, south to Baja California, northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon), and southeastern U.S., though basically absent from the western Great Plains (AOU 1983, Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993). NON-BREEDING: Washington, Rocky Mountain states, southern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and New England south to Middle America (commonly to Honduras, rarely but regularly to Costa Rica, casually to Colombia) (AOU 1983, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Johnsgard 1990, Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Numerous occurrences but precise number is unknown.

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: No rangewide estimates. Number of breeding pairs in Canada in the early 1990s was estimated at 10,000-50,000 (Kirk et al. 1995). Johnsgard (1990) ventured a minimum wintering population estimate, based on the 1986 Audubon Christmas Counts, of 19,400 Cooper's hawks in the United States and Canadian provinces. The maximum bird populations he estimated were in Arizona (3,250 birds) and California (3,200 birds). The number wintering south into Central America is unknown.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Major threats are pesticide use (especially chlorinated hydrocarbons used in Central America) and loss of habitat. Sometimes shot by hunters and farmers, or nests are robbed by falconers. PESTICIDES: The principal cause for the population crash since the 1950s has been nesting failure due to DDT poisoning. A severe decline in the eastern portion of the range was first noted in counts of migrating populations during the 1960s (Peterson 1964, Spofford 1969, Nagy 1977). More direct evidence for the role of pesticide poisoning includes observations of drastically reduced fledging success rates (Schriver 1969), reductions in egg-shell thickness (Anderson and Hickey 1972), and a strong correlation between egg-shell thinning and residues of DDT and its metabolites found in egg tissues (Snyder et al. 1973). Fledging success rates dropped from 3.53 young per successful nest prior to 1946 to 2.67 during 1946-1967 (Pattee et al. 1985). Despite the ban on DDT that has been in effect in the U.S. since the 1970s, numbers have failed to rebound to former levels in the eastern U.S. (Robbins et al. 1986). This failure to regain their former abundance may be due to the continued use of the pesticide in Central America, where at least part of the species spends the winter. An adult was found dying of acute DDT poisoning as late as 1980 (Prouty et al. 1982). Many prey species consumed are neotropical migrants, and probably continue to be contaminated by DDT during their winters south of the United States. Illegal use of DDT in this country has also been proposed as a possible cause. It is, however, still unclear to what extent DDT or other organochloride pesticides are contributing to the slow rebound of this species. In a study of contaminants in eggs from Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, only one egg from Connecticut contained levels of DDE, a break-down product of DDT, above the level hypothesized to cause reproductive failure. The data suggested that egg shell thinning was not a significant problem in these states in 1980, although at least two individual birds had thin-shelled eggs containing high residues. Other contaminants, including other pesticides, PCB, lead and mercury, also showed up at levels below hypothesized impact levels (Pattee et al. 1985). In addition to the hazards of long-lived, bioconcentrating organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, the more widely used and acutely toxic organophosphate pesticides may pose a threat. Two reports of poisoning were made in the 1980s (Rosenfield et al. 1991). So little effort has been put into monitoring this type of poisoning in dead raptors, that it is impossible to assess the magnitude of this threat. HABITAT LOSS: Deforestation has also been cited as a current threat and may become increasingly important. Required habitat (dense forest isolated from human activities or narrow riverine forest corridors) is under pressure for forest product harvest and development (Snyder 1978, Herron 1985, Weir 1987). Habitat loss was cited as the primary threat to raptor populations in a recent survey of U.S. state agencies by the National Wildlife Federation (Rosenfield et al. 1991). Rosenfield et al. (1991), however, concluded that breeding habitat does not appear to be limiting for this species in Wisconsin. They found that hawks often utilized pine plantations for nesting, and in fact may achieve their highest nesting densities in such habitat. Similarly, Wiggers and Kritz (1991) found hawks nesting in rather small stands (an average of 4.1 hectares) of young pines. If this habitat use is common in Wisconsin, it is probably also the case for neighboring Minnesota and Michigan, and suggests that habitat may not be limiting in the Great Lakes region. Also, reports that this species has been moving in to urban/suburban areas also raise questions about the importance of habitat loss (A. Stewart, pers. comm.). Other threats include continued persecution by hunters or irate farmers, and the collection of live birds by falconers. Although bounty hunting was once a major mortality factor for this species, that threat has been curtailed by the legal protection now given all birds of prey. Apart from humans, the greatest enemies are probably other raptors. Great horned owls (BUBO VIRGINIANUS) are known predators (Terres 1980). Goshawks (ACCIPITER GENTILIS) are competitors (Reynolds et al. 1982). Nestlings and eggs are also preyed upon by raccoons (PROCYON LOTOR), crows (CORVUS spp.), and possibly snakes (Schriver 1969, Campbell et al 1990).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Although some local, short-term studies indicate declines, Mosher (1989) believed that migration counts indicated that ACCIPITER populations were stable or increasing in the eastern U.S. Mosher (1989) also pointed to the facts that the Cooper's hawk was consistently found as a breeding species in intensive studies of woodland hawks in the Northeast, and that productivity and nest success in these studies indicated healthy populations, to support his claim that this species' rarity and vulnerability have been exaggerated. Rosenfield et al. (1991) emphasized that currently available information was inadequate to establish the status of the Cooper's hawk in most of the Midwest. In Wisconsin, however, they believed that they had adequate data to establish that the species should not be classified as "threatened." Nevertheless, even if Cooper's hawk populations have stabilized in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, this species is clearly much rarer today across much of the eastern half of its range than it was a century ago. In the West, the species is generally considered stable, though California's population apparently declined in recent decades (Remsen 1978, California'sWildlife 1990). Ehrlich et al. (1992) stated that numbers in southeastern New Mexico and Arizona were declining in 1988. Most recent information indicates a stable or increasing population in Canada (Kirk et al. 1995). Data currently available provide only minimal evidence of trends. The paucity of clear data on trends supports the conclusion that state protection status for the Cooper's hawk is largely based on conservative speculation at present (Mosher 1989, Rosenfield et al. 1991). The population as a whole appears to be fairly stable. However, the species is declining in some areas (e.g., California), and at the same time increasing in some of the states where the population declined precipitously during the era of widespread organochlorine pesticide use.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Population declined noticeably from the 1940s until at least the 1970s. Some areas have partly recovered, but population size is still much lower over most of eastern range than prior to the decline. The population declined at an estimated 13.5 percent per year from 1941 to 1945, and at a rate as high as 25 percent per year after 1948 when DDT came into widespread use (Henny and Wight 1972). Since 1968 the reproduction rate and population size improved in at least some areas of the Cooper's hawk's range. For example, Ohio reported rapid recovery of this species in the 1980s (Peterjohn and Rice 1991). Bednarz et al. (1990) noted a period of decline between 1950 and 1964, followed by a gradual increase continuing through 1986. Population levels had not returned to pre-DDT era by 1986. A significant increase was recorded in migration counts in northeastern North America, 1972-1987 (Titus and Fuller 1990).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Obtain better information on range-wide distribution and abundance. See monitoring information in ES record.

Protection Needs: Enforce protection laws. Protect large tracts (> 500 hectares) of dense forests. An international ban on the use of DDT and other bioconcentrating pesticides may be necessary to prevent these chemicals from being transported via the neotropical migratory birds that compose this hawk's diet. Educate the public concerning the value of predatory species in natural ecosystems.

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: southern British Columbia across southern Canada to central Saskatchewan, southern Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces, south to Baja California, northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon), and southeastern U.S., though basically absent from the western Great Plains (AOU 1983, Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993). NON-BREEDING: Washington, Rocky Mountain states, southern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and New England south to Middle America (commonly to Honduras, rarely but regularly to Costa Rica, casually to Colombia) (AOU 1983, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Johnsgard 1990, Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Colbert (01033)*
AZ Apache (04001)
CA Alameda (06001), Colusa (06011)*, Contra Costa (06013), Fresno (06019), Humboldt (06023), Imperial (06025)*, Inyo (06027), Kern (06029), Los Angeles (06037), Mendocino (06045), Monterey (06053), Nevada (06057), Orange (06059), Placer (06061)*, Riverside (06065), Sacramento (06067), San Benito (06069), San Bernardino (06071), San Diego (06073), San Luis Obispo (06079)*, Santa Barbara (06083), Santa Clara (06085), Santa Cruz (06087), Shasta (06089), Siskiyou (06093), Tulare (06107), Tuolumne (06109), Ventura (06111)
CT Fairfield (09001), Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005), Middlesex (09007), New Haven (09009), Tolland (09013)*
DE Kent (10001), New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
FL Duval (12031), Gadsden (12039), Gulf (12045), Highlands (12055), Lee (12071), Levy (12075), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Okaloosa (12091), Putnam (12107), St. Lucie (12111), Suwannee (12121)
IA Allamakee (19005), Black Hawk (19013), Boone (19015), Bremer (19017), Butler (19023)*, Clarke (19039), Clayton (19043), Fayette (19065), Guthrie (19077), Hardin (19083), Jackson (19097), Lee (19111), Lucas (19117), Marion (19125), Monroe (19135), Polk (19153), Van Buren (19177), Winneshiek (19191)
ID Ada (16001), Adams (16003), Bannock (16005), Bear Lake (16007), Benewah (16009), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017), Bonneville (16019), Boundary (16021), Butte (16023), Camas (16025), Canyon (16027), Caribou (16029), Cassia (16031), Clark (16033), Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Franklin (16041), Fremont (16043), Gem (16045), Gooding (16047), Idaho (16049), Jefferson (16051), Jerome (16053), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057), Lemhi (16059), Lewis (16061), Madison (16065), Nez Perce (16069), Oneida (16071), Owyhee (16073), Payette (16075), Power (16077), Shoshone (16079), Teton (16081), Twin Falls (16083), Valley (16085), Washington (16087)
IN Allen (18003), Bartholomew (18005), Boone (18011), Brown (18013), Clark (18019), Crawford (18025), Elkhart (18039), Fountain (18045), Hendricks (18063), Huntington (18069), Jackson (18071), Kosciusko (18085), La Porte (18091), Lagrange (18087), Lake (18089), Lawrence (18093), Marion (18097), Martin (18101), Miami (18103), Monroe (18105), Montgomery (18107), Morgan (18109), Newton (18111), Noble (18113), Ohio (18115), Parke (18121), Perry (18123), Pike (18125), St. Joseph (18141), Starke (18149), Steuben (18151), Switzerland (18155), Tippecanoe (18157), Wabash (18169), Wayne (18177), White (18181)
KS Anderson (20003), Barber (20007)*, Chase (20017), Cheyenne (20023), Cloud (20029), Decatur (20039), Douglas (20045), Ellsworth (20053), Geary (20061), Greenwood (20073), Harvey (20079), Jefferson (20087), Leavenworth (20103), Linn (20107), Lyon (20111), Montgomery (20125), Norton (20137), Osage (20139), Phillips (20147), Pratt (20151), Rawlins (20153), Stafford (20185), Woodson (20207)
LA Calcasieu (22019), Grant (22043)*, Orleans (22071), Plaquemines (22075), Terrebonne (22109)*, Vernon (22115)
MA Barnstable (25001), Berkshire (25003), Bristol (25005), Dukes (25007), Essex (25009), Franklin (25011), Hampden (25013)*, Hampshire (25015), Middlesex (25017), Norfolk (25021)*, Plymouth (25023), Suffolk (25025)*, Worcester (25027)
MI Alcona (26001), Cheboygan (26031), Ingham (26065), Iosco (26069), Kalamazoo (26077)*, Kent (26081)*, Macomb (26099)*, Manistee (26101), Montcalm (26117), Oakland (26125), Ottawa (26139), Saginaw (26145), Van Buren (26159), Wexford (26165)
MO Barry (29009), Barton (29011), Benton (29015), Bollinger (29017), Butler (29023), Camden (29029), Carter (29035), Chariton (29041), Cole (29051), Crawford (29055), Dent (29065), Douglas (29067), Franklin (29071), Greene (29077), Grundy (29079), Howell (29091), Iron (29093), Jefferson (29099), Lincoln (29113), Macon (29121), McDonald (29119), Newton (29145), Osage (29151), Phelps (29161), Pulaski (29169), Reynolds (29179), Shannon (29203), St. Charles (29183), St. Clair (29185), St. Louis (29189), Ste. Genevieve (29186), Texas (29215), Vernon (29217), Warren (29219), Washington (29221), Wayne (29223), Webster (29225)
MS Attala (28007)*, Chickasaw (28017)*, Hinds (28049), Holmes (28051)*, Madison (28089), Warren (28149)
ND Billings (38007)*, Bottineau (38009), Burke (38013), Grand Forks (38035), McHenry (38049)
NE Brown (31017), Cass (31025), Chase (31029), Cherry (31031), Dawes (31045), Dodge (31053)*, Douglas (31055), Frontier (31063), Harlan (31083), Holt (31089), Keya Paha (31103), Red Willow (31145), Saunders (31155)*, Seward (31159), Sioux (31165)
NH Carroll (33003), Hillsborough (33011), Rockingham (33015)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Bergen (34003), Burlington (34005), Camden (34007), Cape May (34009), Cumberland (34011), Essex (34013), Gloucester (34015), Hunterdon (34019), Mercer (34021), Middlesex (34023), Monmouth (34025), Morris (34027), Ocean (34029), Passaic (34031), Salem (34033), Somerset (34035), Sussex (34037), Warren (34041)
NM Mckinley (35031), Otero (35035)
OK Murray (40099), Tillman (40141)
PA Berks (42011)*, Monroe (42089)*, Pike (42103)*, Schuylkill (42107)*, Wayne (42127)*
RI Washington (44009)*
SC Charleston (45019), Colleton (45029), Edgefield (45037), Greenville (45045), McCormick (45065), Oconee (45073), Pickens (45077)*
SD Bon Homme (46009), Brown (46013), Custer (46033), Day (46037), Deuel (46039)*, Grant (46051)*, Gregory (46053)*, Harding (46063)*, Hughes (46065), Jackson (46071)*, Lawrence (46081), Lyman (46085)*, Marshall (46091), Meade (46093)*, Minnehaha (46099), Pennington (46103), Perkins (46105), Roberts (46109), Shannon (46113), Stanley (46117), Todd (46121), Tripp (46123)*, Union (46127)
UT San Juan (49037)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Saco (01060002)+, Merrimack (01070002)+, Nashua (01070004)+*, Merrimack (01070006)+, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Deerfield (01080203)+, Chicopee (01080204)+*, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Westfield (01080206)+, Farmington (01080207)+, Charles (01090001)+, Cape Cod (01090002)+, Narragansett (01090004)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+*, Shetucket (01100002)+*, Quinnipiac (01100004)+*, Housatonic (01100005)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+
02 Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+, Rondout (02020007)+, Lower Hudson (02030101)+, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Lackawaxen (02040103)+*, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Lehigh (02040106)+*, Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Chester-Sassafras (02060002)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+, Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva (02080111)+
03 Enoree (03050108)+, Saluda (03050109)+*, Cooper (03050201)+, Salkehatchie (03050207)+, Seneca (03060101)+, Stevens (03060107)+, Nassau (03070205)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Florida Bay-Florida Keys (03090203)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Lower Suwannee (03110205)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+, Yellow (03140103)+, Upper Tombigbee (03160101)+*, Tibbee (03160104)+*, Middle Pearl-Strong (03180002)+
04 Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+, St. Joseph (04050001)+, Black-Macatawa (04050002)+, Kalamazoo (04050003)+*, Upper Grand (04050004)+, Lower Grand (04050006)+, Manistee (04060103)+, Cheboygan (04070004)+, Au Sable (04070007)+, Au Gres-Rifle (04080101)+, Shiawassee (04080203)+, Lake St. Clair (04090002)+*, Clinton (04090003)+, Huron (04090005)+*, St. Joseph (04100003)+*, St. Marys (04100004)+
05 Whitewater (05080003)+, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+, Upper Wabash (05120101)+, Salamonie (05120102)+, Mississinewa (05120103)+, Middle Wabash-Deer (05120105)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Sugar (05120110)+, Upper White (05120201)+, Driftwood (05120204)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Patoka (05120209)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, Lac Qui Parle (07020003)+*, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+, Turkey (07060004)+, Apple-Plum (07060005)+, Maquoketa (07060006)+, Upper Wapsipinicon (07080102)+, Upper Cedar (07080201)+, Shell Rock (07080202)+*, West Fork Cedar (07080204)+*, Middle Cedar (07080205)+, Upper Iowa (07080207)+, Middle Des Moines (07100004)+, South Raccoon (07100007)+, Lake Red Rock (07100008)+, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+, Bear-Wyaconda (07110001)+, Cuivre (07110008)+, Kankakee (07120001)+, Iroquois (07120002)+, Cahokia-Joachim (07140101)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Bourbeuse (07140103)+
08 Upper St. Francis (08020202)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Little (08040304)+*, Upper Big Black (08060201)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+, Mermentau (08080202)+, Whisky Chitto (08080204)+, Eastern Louisiana Coastal (08090203)+, East Central Louisiana Coastal (08090301)+, West Central Louisiana Coastal (08090302)+*
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+, Willow (09010004)+, Bois De Sioux (09020101)+, Western Wild Rice (09020105)+, Turtle (09020307)+
10 Lake Sakakawea (10110101)+, Middle Little Missouri (10110203)+*, Lower Little Missouri (10110205)+*, Beaver (10120107)+*, Hat (10120108)+, Middle Cheyenne-Spring (10120109)+, Rapid (10120110)+, Middle Cheyenne-Elk (10120111)+, Lower Cheyenne (10120112)+*, Lower Belle Fourche (10120202)+*, Redwater (10120203)+, South Fork Grand (10130302)+*, Grand (10130303)+, Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+, Upper White (10140201)+, Middle White (10140202)+*, Little White (10140203)+, Lower White (10140204)+*, Ponca (10150001)+*, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Lower Niobrara (10150007)+, Upper James (10160003)+, Mud (10160005)+, Snake (10160008)+, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+, Upper Big Sioux (10170202)+*, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+, Lower Platte (10200202)+, Salt (10200203)+, Lower Elkhorn (10220003)+, Independence-Sugar (10240011)+, South Fork Republican (10250003)+, Upper Republican (10250004)+, Frenchman (10250005)+, Medicine (10250008)+, Harlan County Reservoir (10250009)+, Upper Sappa (10250010)+, Lower Sappa (10250011)+, Prairie Dog (10250015)+, Middle Republican (10250016)+, Lower Republican (10250017)+, Middle Smoky Hill (10260006)+, Upper North Fork Solomon (10260011)+, Lower North Fork Solomon (10260012)+, Solomon (10260015)+, Lower Kansas (10270104)+, Middle Big Blue (10270202)+, Thompson (10280102)+, Little Chariton (10280203)+, Upper Marais Des Cygnes (10290101)+, Lower Marais Des Cygnes (10290102)+, Little Osage (10290103)+, Marmaton (10290104)+, Harry S. Missouri (10290105)+, Pomme De Terre (10290107)+, Lake of the Ozarks (10290109)+, Niangua (10290110)+, Lower Osage (10290111)+, Upper Gasconade (10290201)+, Big Piney (10290202)+, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+, Lower Missouri-Moreau (10300102)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, James (11010002)+, North Fork White (11010006)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Spring (11010010)+, Rattlesnake (11030009)+, Cow (11030011)+, South Fork Ninnescah (11030015)+, Upper Walnut River (11030017)+, Medicine Lodge (11060003)+*, Upper Verdigris (11070101)+, Caney (11070106)+, Neosho headwaters (11070201)+, Lower Cottonwood (11070203)+, Upper Neosho (11070204)+, Elk (11070208)+, Blue-China (11130102)+, West Cache (11130203)+, Middle Washita (11130303)+
12 Lower Sabine (12010005)+
13 Tularosa Valley (13050003)+
14 Chaco (14080106)+, Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+, Lower San Juan (14080205)+
15 Upper Puerco (15020006)+, Lower Colorado (15030107)+*
16 Bear Lake (16010201)+, Middle Bear (16010202)+, Curlew Valley (16020309)+
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Priest (17010215)+, Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, South Fork Coeur D'alene (17010302)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, St. Joe (17010304)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Palisades (17040104)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Lower Henrys (17040203)+, Teton (17040204)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Blackfoot (17040207)+, Portneuf (17040208)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Raft (17040210)+, Goose (17040211)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Salmon Falls (17040213)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Birch (17040216)+, Little Lost (17040217)+, Big Lost (17040218)+, Big Wood (17040219)+, Camas (17040220)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, C. J. Idaho (17050101)+, Bruneau (17050102)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Upper Owyhee (17050104)+, Middle Owyhee (17050107)+, Jordan (17050108)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+, South Fork Boise (17050113)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Middle Snake-Payette (17050115)+, South Fork Payette (17050120)+, Middle Fork Payette (17050121)+, Payette (17050122)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Weiser (17050124)+, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+, Hells Canyon (17060101)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Palouse (17060108)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Middle Salmon-Panther (17060203)+, Lemhi (17060204)+, Upper Middle Fork Salmon (17060205)+, Lower Middle Fork Salmon (17060206)+, South Fork Salmon (17060208)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Little Salmon (17060210)+, Middle Fork Clearwater (17060304)+, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Upper North Fork Clearwater (17060307)+, Lower North Fork Clearwater (17060308)+
18 Mad-Redwood (18010102)+, Lower Eel (18010105)+, South Fork Eel (18010106)+, Mattole (18010107)+, Lower Pit (18020003)+, Sacramento-Stone Corral (18020104)+*, Lower American (18020111)+, Upper Yuba (18020125)+, North Fork American (18020128)+*, Cow Creek (18020151)+, Upper Coon-Upper Auburn (18020161)+, Lower Sacramento (18020163)+, South Fork Kern (18030002)+, Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi- (18030003)+, Upper Kaweah (18030007)+, Upper Tuolumne (18040009)+, San Pablo Bay (18050002)+, Coyote (18050003)+, San Francisco Bay (18050004)+, San Lorenzo-Soquel (18060001)+, Pajaro (18060002)+, Salinas (18060005)+, Central Coastal (18060006)+*, Santa Ynez (18060010)+, Alisal-Elkhorn Sloughs (18060011)+, Santa Barbara Coastal (18060013)+, Santa Clara (18070102)+, Santa Monica Bay (18070104)+, Los Angeles (18070105)+, San Gabriel (18070106)+, San Jacinto (18070202)+, Santa Ana (18070203)+, Newport Bay (18070204)+, Aliso-San Onofre (18070301)+, Santa Margarita (18070302)+, San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303)+, San Diego (18070304)+, Cottonwood-Tijuana (18070305)+, Crowley Lake (18090102)+, Indian Wells-Searles Valleys (18090205)+*, Antelope-Fremont Valleys (18090206)+*, Mojave (18090208)+*, Southern Mojave (18100100)+, Whitewater River (18100201)+*, Carrizo Creek (18100202)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A crow-sized, woodland hawk.
General Description: A medium-size diurnal raptor with rounded wings, a long brown/black banded tail (often rounded at the end), and a hooked bill; adult is mainly gray/brown above, barred rusty brown below, with strong contrast between dark crown and paler nape and back; immature is paler, with brown upperparts, dark-streaked whitish or buffy underparts, and white undertail coverts. Average length 36-51 centimeters, wingspan 74-94 centimeters; females average larger than males (NGS 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) by longer, more rounded tail that has a wider white terminal band; larger head; and (in adult) stronger contrast between the dark crown and paler nape and back. Differs from goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) in smaller size (average length 36-51 centimeters vs. 53-66 centimeters), lack of conspicuous pale eyebrow, less conspicuous white undertail coverts, broader white tip on tail, and proportionately longer tail and shorter wings (NGS 1983).
Reproduction Comments: The breeding season usually begins in early April and extends through May and June (Bent 1937, Brown and Amadon 1968). The annual molt begins in late June but can occur as late as October (Bent 1937). Southward migration commences in the northern states in late August, with September being the peak month; it is essentially over by November. Northward migration occurs from late February to early April (Brown and Amadon 1968).

The male does most of the nest building and occasionally some of the incubation; most of the incubation is done by the female, which seldom leaves the nest before the young have fledged (Brown and Amadon 1968). During the pre-fledging period the male provides both the female and the young with food, while both parents feed the young for up to four weeks after they leave the nest (Brown and Amadon 1968).

Only one brood is raised each year. The normal clutch is four-five eggs, with clutches of three and six being rarely observed (Bent 1937). A national average has been calculated at 3.5 eggs (Bednarz et al. 1990). Replacement clutches are laid if the first set is lost, and laying can be delayed under conditions of low food availability (Bent 1937, Snyder and Wiley 1976).

Hatching success data are limited, but in areas unaffected by DDT contamination the average hatching rate ranges from about 70% to 83% (Craighead and Craighead 1956, Johnsgard 1990), with some further reduction in the brood occurring after hatching. Normal fledging success rates range from 2.1 to 3.5 for pairs with successful nests (Craighead and Craighead 1956, Schriver 1969, Henny and Wight 1972, Reynolds and Wight 1978, Herron et al. 1985); roughly 80% of nests produce at least one fledgling (Henny and Wight 1972). In areas affected by DDT poisoning these figures were reported to be dramatically reduced.

The young fledge one month after hatching, the males leaving the nest three-four days earlier than the larger females. They remain dependent on their parents until they are eight weeks of age and have learned to forage on their own (Brown and Amadon 1968). Only about 19% of the birds breed in their first year. Most nest by the second year and continue breeding throughout the rest of their lives.

Ecology Comments: Few data on population densities exist. Craighead and Craighead (1956) found 1554 hectares per pair in 1947-1948 in Michigan. In Maryland a density estimate of 200 hectares per pair was calculated by Stewart and Robbins (1958). Rosenfield et al. (1991) compiled nesting densities from various studies. These densities ranged from a low of 5000 hectares per pair in North Dakota in 1987, to a high of 331 hectares per pair in a pine plantation in southeastern Wisconsin in 1986.

Strongly territorial. Males vigorously defend an area 30 meters in diameter around the nest site although they may forage up to 3.2 kilometers away (Brown and Amadon 1968). Johnsgard (1990) reported home range sizes that ranged from 105 to 784 hectares (the latter was seasonal home range; daily home range was 231 hectares). Nests are typically spaced 2.4 - 5.6 kilometers apart (Brown and Amadon 1968, Reynolds and Wight 1978, Kennedy 1980, Campbell et al 1990) and not usually less than one kilometer apart (Palmer 1988). The smaller sharp-shinned hawk also appears to keep similar distances from Cooper's hawk nests (Brown and Amadon 1968, Reynolds and Wight 1978), indicating interspecific aggression probably related to competition for food. Winter range is larger. Michigan birds ranged over areas of 2.4 - 3.2 kilometers in diameter.

Dispersal range is limited. In Wisconsin, six males dispersed 4 - 35 kilometers (mean 12 kilometers) from natal site to nesting site; one female dispersed 14 kilometers (Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1992). Hunt by a combination of still-hunting and searching flights along woodland edges and natural routes (Johnsgard 1990).

Birds following inland migration routes apparently migrate over longer distances than those following coastal routes, and tend to have longer wings and tails, creating lower "flight-surface loading." This is thought to be an adaptation to the longer flight distances, more open country, and stronger thermal updrafts encountered along the inland routes (Smith et al. 1990).

Mortality appears to be quite high during the birds' first winter, approaching 78% as opposed to only 34% per year for the adults 2 to 8 years old (Henny and Wight 1972). The maximum recorded lifespan is 8 years (Henny and Wight 1972). Life history traits place it intermediate for population turnover rate between the larger goshawk and smaller sharp-shinned hawk. This may partially explain the slower recovery of Cooper's from a population crash in the 1950s-1960s compared to sharp-shinned hawks (Bednarz et al. 1990).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Northernmost populations migratory (move north mostly March-April, southward late August-early November) but regularly present throughout most of breeding range in winter. Migrates singly or in twos or threes (National Geographic Society 1983). See Palmer (1988) for more information.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Primarily mature forest, either broadleaf or coniferous, mostly the former; also open woodland and forest edge (AOU 1983, Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993). Nests in both pine and hardwood groves, and riparian cottonwoods and sycamores in the West; Douglas-fir in northeastern Oregon. Usually builds new nest on horizontal limb near trunk or in crotch, 6-18 meters above ground; may modify old one or squirrel or crow nest. Campbell et al. (1990) reported one instance of a nest being reused for six consecutive years in British Columbia. Rosenfield and Bielefeldt (1992) found that nesting areas were irregularly reused by the same or different adults in subsequent years.

In Nevada, Cooper's Hawks were frequently sighted in montane forests and pinyon-juniper woodlands, but riparian habitat was recorded as well (Floyd et al. 2007). In California, this species is seldom found in areas without dense tree stands, or patchy woodland habitat. It nests in deciduous trees in crotches 3-23 m (10-80 ft), but usually 6-15 m (20-50 ft), above the ground. It also nests in conifers on horizontal branches, in the main crotch, often just below the lowest live limbs. They usually nest in second-growth conifer stands, or in deciduous riparian areas, usually near streams. They frequent landscapes where wooded areas occur in patches and groves (Beebe 1974) and often use patchy woodlands and edges with snags for perching (CDFG 2011). Cooper's Hawks tend to use older, taller, and less dense woodlots than Sharp-shinned Hawks in California (Rosenfield and Bielefeldt 1993). In southern California, Cooper's Hawk generally favors extensive riparian bottomlands (Garrett and Dunn 1981). In Oregon, nests were in stands of conifers that included older and taller trees, a deeper crown, and a more open understory than a typical single-story Sharp-shinned Hawk nest stand (Reynolds et al. 1982). See also Grindrod and Walton Cooper's Hawk account at

Generally is an inhabitant of deep woods, utilizing thick cover both for nesting and hunting. Openings, especially where hedgerows or windbreaks offer shelter for prey species, may also be used when foraging. Johnsgard (1990) states that Cooper's are less fussy about the forest type than sharp-shins, and are more often "associated with deciduous and mixed forests and open woodland habitats such as woodlots, riparian woodlands, semiarid woodlands of the southwest, and other areas where the woodlands tend to occur in patches and groves or as spaced trees."

In the Northwest and Northeast, conifers are used for nesting (Bent 1937, Reynolds et al. 1982), but elsewhere the preference is for hardwoods (Brown and Amadon 1968). In the Northwest a preference may exist also for the cooler microclimates offered by north and east facing slopes (Reynolds et al. 1982). In that area, the Cooper's hawk is typically found in middle-aged stands, 50 - 60 years in age, whereas the sharp-shin prefers younger stands and the goshawk older ones (Reynolds et al. 1982). That difference might express competitive displacement, because in the East, where the goshawk rarely nests, the Cooper's hawk prefers mature stands (Brown and Amadon 1968).

In some areas the species seems to require large tracts of forests and to avoid human contact, in others they may use small forest tracts, (e.g., British Columbia and Nevada), woodlots (e.g., Ohio) or urban/suburban areas where they seem tolerant of human activities (e.g., British Columbia, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana) (Hennessy 1978, Herron et al. 1985, Campbell et al 1990, Peterjohn and Rice 1991, Rosenfield et al. 1991).

In New Jersey-New York, nested mostly in mixed deciduous-coniferous forest with eastern hemlock the dominant coniferous species at many sites. Tended to nest in areas with relatively large basal area and more canopy cover. Nests located in live overstory trees (43% conifers), typically within the canopy, and always in dense forest but commonly near wetland openings or source of water, on level ground or lower slopes, typically several hundred meters from paved roads (but sometimes within 100 meters or less). Avoided southern exposures (Reynolds et al. 1982, Bosakowski et al. 1992).

A recent study in Missouri documented numerous Cooper's Hawks nesting in young pine plantations in essentially the same habitat as sharp-shins. Also found that trees with deformed crowns were preferred (Wiggers and Kritz 1991). Rosenfield et al. (1991) report that pine plantations are important habitat for breeding Cooper's hawks throughout the Midwest, and particularly in Wisconsin. See Kennedy (1988) for details on nesting habitat in New Mexico.

NON-BREEDING: Migrates mostly along ridges and coastlines (NGS 1983). Winter habitat is much the same as in the nesting season, although open woodlands and fields may be utilized to a greater extent.

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Eats medium-sized birds (e.g., starling, thrush, quail), sometimes small birds and some up to size of adult ruffed grouse, small ground-foraging mammals, occasionally reptiles (especially in southwestern U.S.) and amphibians. Their primary food is other birds; up to 90% of its diet is composed of avian prey, with mid-sized birds such as flickers and starlings being taken preferentially (Kennedy 1980). They are frequently important predators of bobwhites and were at least formerly, before the days of factory farming, raiders of domestic fowl. These food choices have led to a great deal of persecution by humans. Additional foods include small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects (Bent 1937). In the southwest and west mammals and lizards can make up as much as half the food intake (Johnsgard 1990). Young birds comprise a large proportion of the food provided to nestlings. Typically hunts from inconspicuous perch, or uses a longer searching flight. Sometimes attracted to birds at feeders. Birds may not necessarily prevail in the diet (Bielefeldt et al. 1992).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 51 centimeters
Weight: 529 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Populations declined drastically in the eastern half of the continent between the 1940s and the early 1970s. After the ban of DDT in the U.S., populations began to rebound in some areas, but apparently still remain much below pre-DDT era levels throughout much of the region. The population recovered susbstantially in some areas (e.g., Ohio, Wisconsin). The lack of rebound in many areas has led to speculation that DDT is still picked up by migratory birds that winter in Central and South America and compose the major part of the diet. Little data to substantiate this claim exist. Few analyses of reproductive success or of DDT residues in eggs have been conducted, but results do not point to an obvious contaminant problem.

While many suggest that the main solution to recovery appears to be an international ban on the use of DDT and related pesticides, controlling habitat destruction is cited in other references. Research into the reproductive success rates, pesticide residues, prey population levels, habitat characteristics, and competitor populations are needed before a real understanding of how to protect this species is possible. In the meantime, standardized effective survey methods, such as censuses employing taped conspecific calls should be used systematically throughout the species' range to establish population levels and fluctuations. Whenever possible, known nesting sites should be protected from human disturbance and the public should be educated concerning the value predatory species have in maintaining a balance in natural ecosystems.

Restoration Potential: Given the continued low population levels since the banning of DDT in the United States, the major solution to recovery may require an international end to the use of DDT and related organochlorine pesticides, particularly in Central and South America. If that can be accomplished, this species should be able to return to its former numbers, at least in areas that are still forested. However, it may be that other presently unknown factors are also involved in keeping numbers low.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Although habitat requirements of this species are apparently highly variable and not well-defined, the following conservative guidelines are offered. Blocks of woodlands of a minimum of several hundred hectares (based on measured home range size of 100+ to 700+ hectares) are needed by this species for successful reproduction and foraging; forest tracts of six to eight hectares should be left unthinned around the nests to provide sufficient cover at the nest site (Reynolds et al. 1982, Rosenfield et al. 1991). In addition to protecting known nesting territories, attention also needs to be given to providing additional space into which the population can expand. The degree to which a site can be protected from human intrusion and raccoon predation should also be considered.
Management Requirements: Generally thought to need large tracts of relatively mature forests, particularly during the nesting season. This suggests management options that minimize forest fragmentation. The value or impact of forest edge habitat to this species, however, needs to be defined before management prescriptions can be made. Cooper's hawks reportedly forage in both wooded and open areas (Kingsley and Nicholls 1991). Where riverine forest corridors are used, management to maintain these corridors free of roadways, mining and other long-term disruption is needed (Herron et al. 1985). Additional protection from human disturbance would presumably raise the fledging success rate, since this species usually avoids populated areas when nesting (Snyder 1978). In areas with high raccoon populations, reduction of raccoon access to nests may be needed. Raccoon guards placed on nest trees and precautions taken during nesting studies can greatly decrease raccoon predation (Shriver 1969, Fyfe and Olendorff 1976).

In general, tree cutting in the vicinity of nests should be avoided and known nest sites should be protected from human disturbance during nesting season. A buffer zone of eight-ten hectares with no tree harvest has been recommended (Crocker-Bedford 1990). When managing for the benefit of Cooper's hawks, the practice of thinning stands for commercial or non-commercial purposes should be avoided in order to maintain the preferred density of cover (Reynolds et al. 1982). In the southwestern U.S., Reynolds et al. (1982) recommended the following actions to produce and maintain desired forest conditions: thinning trees in the understory, creating small openings in the forest, and prescribed burning; also deemed important were the provision of abundant snags and large downed logs, woody debris, interspersion of different tree sizes across the landscape, and ample older-aged forest. See Crocker-Bedford and Chaney (1988) for recommendations on management of nesting habitat in northern Arizona, Thomas et al. (1993) for a brief summary of protection and management needs in the Pacific Northwest, and Lefranc and Glinski (1988) for research needs and management recommendations for the southwestern U.S.

Monitoring Requirements: Status and methods of effective management cannot be determined until more is known about basic biology, abundance, and distribution (Rosenfield et al. 1991). Surveys of nesting birds using standardized effective techniques are needed across the range so that status of breeding populations can be assessed on a regional basis. These surveys will need to be repeated at least biannually for a number of years before patterns of population fluctuations and trends can be distinguished.

During the nestling stage, broadcast recordings of vocalizations (conspecific and great horned owl) can markedly increase the chance of detections near nests (Rosenfield et al. 1985; see also Fuller and Mosher 1987). Point count transects with broadcasts of recorded calls have been found to be more effective than either walking, driving continuously, or looking and listening only at roadside stops (Mosher et al. 1990). Mosher et al. (1990) suggested 10-15 minute stops for these transects.

After the young fledge, the observation of parental feeding also constitutes good evidence of their nesting within the vicinity. Since pairs show strong site-fidelity to a nesting area over several years, return visits in subsequent breeding periods should be made to reaffirm their presence. Iverson and Fuller (1991) describe an index of relative abundance, "area occupied," that can be used to compare relative abundance and distribution, rather than absolute density. This index, adjusted by a correction factor, the "probability of detection," allows changes in population over time, or differences among habitats to be compared.

Additional clues to presence within an area are provided by their repeated use of certain stumps or low perches for plucking their prey; the remains of birds the size of flickers (COLAPTES spp.) or larger should help to distinguish these sites from those of sharp-shins. Once presence is known or suspected, the nest site should be located by looking for droppings or feathers lying on the ground below it.

To track overall trends, migration counts on all major census routes should be continued. Studies of wintering populations employing radio-tracking would also help to decipher the population status and trends. Studies monitoring reproductive success, prey availability, weather, and other possible causal variables should be conducted in conjunction with the population monitoring to provide understanding of the meaning of fluctuations and trends.

Management Research Needs: Mosher et al. (1990) criticizes general bird survey methods, short term trend analysis, and local research projects as inadequate for assessing population status and trends for woodland raptors. He suggests that standardized survey methods and range-wide efforts to define the normal range of reproductive performance, population density, and the factors that affect these parameters are needed. He lists the following research needs: effect of forest maturation on raptor species abundance and composition; impacts of forest management and agricultural practices on raptors; tree age and species composition trends in eastern forests and how and where these trends will likely impact woodland raptors; mechanisms controlling year-to-year fluctuations in reproductive parameters; relationship of reproductive parameters to prey density; and relationship of annual reproductive rate to fall migration counts, if possible. California and Northeastern states should be high priorities for research because of suspected declines or poor population recovery.

Studies determining fledging success are needed along with bioassays for organochlorine residues in eggs and adults. Monitoring levels of organochlorines in adults can be accomplished by assaying blood plasma, which has been shown to correlate quite well with levels in eggs, and hence with egg-shell thinning (Henny and Meeker 1981). Examination of dead hawks for organophosphate pesticide poisoning is needed in light of a few recent reports of Cooper's hawk poisonings (Rosenfield et al. 1991).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Hawks and Falcons

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Feeding Area, Nest Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Mapping Guidance: If nest site is separated from feeding area by more than 100 meters, map as separate polygons.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance a compromise between usually relatively small home ranges and obvious mobility of these birds. Home ranges variable, ranging from about 0.5 to about 90 square kilometers; the latter figure refers to nests where birds commuted some distance to feeding grounds. A number of studies give mean home ranges on the order of 7 square kilometers, which equates to a circle with a diameter of about 3 kilometers; three times that home range gives a separation distance of about 10 kilometers. Home ranges: Ferruginous Hawk, mean 5.9 square kilometers in Utah (Smith and Murphy 1973); range 2.4 to 21.7 square kilometers, mean 7.0 square kilometers in Idaho (Olendorff 1993); mean 7.6 square kilometers in Idaho (McAnnis 1990); mean 90 square kilometers in Washington (Leary et al. 1998); Red-tailed Hawk, most forage within 3 kilometers of nest (Kochert 1986); mean spring and summer male home ranges 148 hectares (Petersen 1979); Hawaiian Hawk, 48 to 608 hectares (n = 16; Clarkson and Laniawe 2000); Zone-tailed Hawk, little information, apparent home range 1-2 kilometers/pair in west Texas (Johnson et al. 2000); White tailed Kite, rarely hunts more than 0.8 kilometers from nest (Hawbecker 1942); Prairie Falcon, 26 square kilometers in Wyoming (Craighead and Craighead 1956), 59 to 314 square kilometers (reported by Steenhof 1998); Aplomado Falcon, 2.6 to 9.0 square kilometers (n = 5, Hector 1988), 3.3 to 21.4 square kilometers (n = 10, Montoya et al. 1997). Nest site fidelity: high in Zone-tailed Hawk; all seven west Texas nesting territories occupied in 1975 were reused in 1976 (Matteson and Riley 1981). Swainson's Hawk: In California, dispersal distances from natal sites to subsequent breeding sites ranged from 0 to 18 kilometers, mean 8.8 kilometers (Woodbridge et al. 1995); in contrast, none of 697 nestlings in Saskatchewan returned to the study area; three were found 190, 200 and 310 kilometers away (Houston and Schmutz 1995).
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Foraging range variable; 3 kilometers is the mean diameter in several species.
Date: 13Mar2001
Author: Cannings, S.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging area, Roosting area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering birds (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, usually minimally a reliable observation of 5 birds (this can be reduced to 1 individual for rarer species). Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. However, occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 15Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04May1995
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Soule, J., C. Sahley, and G. Hammerson; revised by S. Cannings
Management Information Edition Date: 18Sep1992
Management Information Edition Author: SOULE, J.D.; REVISIONS BY C. SAHLEY, G. HAMMERSON, M. KOENEN, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: Many thanks to all state and provincial Heritage program personnel who took time out of their busy field season schedules to respond to information requests: Alabama - Ed West; Arkansas - Cindy Osborne; Arizona - Fenton Kay; British Columbia - Syd Cannings; California - Darlene McGriff; Connecticut - Dawn McKay; Delaware - Dave Rothstein; Idaho - Craig Groves; Illinois - Jean Karnes, Vern Kleen; Kansas - Bill Busby; Indiana - Michelle Martin; Iowa - Daryl Howell; Maryland - Lynn Davidson; Minnesota - Mary Miller, Nongame Wildlife Program; Mississippi - Tom Mann; Missouri - Bob Ziehmer; Montana - J. D. Reichel and D. L. Genter; Nebraska - Mary Kay Clausen; Nevada - Glenn Clemmer; New Mexico - Tina Carlson; New Hampshire - Vicki Chase; New Jersey - Rick Dutko; New York - Paul Novak; Ohio - Dan Rice; Oklahoma - Caryn Vaughn; Ontario - Sheila McKay-Kuja; Oregon - Mark Stern; Pennsylvania - Barb Barton; Quebec - Guy Jolicoeur; Rhode Island - Rick Enser; Saskatchewan - Jim Duncan; South Carolina - J. E. Cely; South Dakota - Eileen Dowd Stukel; Vermont - Chris Fichtel; West Virginia - Barbara Sargent. In addition, thanks to John Castrale, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife; Bill Vermillion, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program. Bruce Peterjohn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center supplied BBS data through 1991 and provided guidance on interpreting trend data for rare species. Special thanks to all the volunteers across the continent who collect BBS data annually.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05Apr1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G., REVISED BY S. CANNINGS

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

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