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Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North Dakota

JPG -- Picture of Species

Cooper's Hawk
Accipiter cooperii

The Cooper's hawk is a woodland accipiter found in the Pembina Hills, Turtle Mountains, and the wooded valleys of the Missouri, Sheyenne, and Red rivers. It can be seen from April through October in North Dakota. The Cooper's hawk is very similar in all plumages to the sharp-shinned hawk, but the Cooper's hawk is larger in size and its tail is more rounded at the tip.

The Cooper's hawk prefers to prey upon medium-sized birds such as starlings, robins, blackbirds, and meadowlarks. It will also frequently take small mammals such as chipmunks and red squirrels. Its main method of hunting is to sit atop an inconspicuous perch and carefully look for prey. Most Cooper's hawks do not chase down prey in flight but rather use an ambush approach. It is also claimed that Cooper's hawks will take prey to a watering hole and drown it.

The male selects the nest site and does most of the building. The male chooses a new nest site each year, but on the rare occasion he doesn't, the female will select an old nest site and repair it. A female Cooper's hawk will begin laying eggs on the same day each year. She usually lays 4 to 5 eggs and incubation lasts 36 days. After the young hatch, the male Cooper's hawk is never allowed to sit on the nest and must instead meet the female on a nearby perch. On this perch, the male gives food to the female which in turn she gives to the young. The young grow very rapidly and leave the nest 30 days after incubation.

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