Hawks Cooper's & Sharp-shinned - Fun Facts

Fun Facts About Cooper’s & Sharp-shinned Hawks

  • Cooper's HawkFemale Cooper’s Hawks are about 30% larger than their male counterparts.
  • Cooper’s Hawks have short, powerful wings and a long tail; these adaptations give them the ability to be highly maneuverable in dense forest habitats. But even with their incredible agility, a recent study showed that 23% of all of the Cooper’s Hawks examined had healed fractures in the bones of their chest.
  • About a third of all attempts by Cooper’s Hawks to capture food are successful.
  • After capturing its prey, Cooper’s Hawks have been occasionally observed to drown their victim by holding it under water.
  • While Cooper’s Hawks will prey on a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, some of their most common quarry include Mourning Doves, American Robins, Jays, Northern Flicker, European Starling and chipmunks.
  • One study in New York documented that each Cooper’s Hawk nestling consumed 11 items of prey per week.
  • Cooper’s Hawks have been known to cache uneaten prey in trees for later use.
  • Sharp-shinned Hawks have especially long middle toes and large eyes, these adaptations help them to capture the small, agile birds that make up almost their entire diet.
  • Sharp-shinned HawkSharp-shinned Hawk females are on average 43% larger than their male counterparts. This size difference between the two sexes is the largest of all of North American raptors.
  • The name “sharp-shinned” comes from the long and narrow appearance of the hawk’s leg just above its toes.
  • While gliding, a Sharp-shinned Hawk can be distinguished from a Cooper’s Hawk by a noticeably shorter head in relationship to leading edge of its wings and the squared off appearance of its tail.
  • On October 4, 1977, over 11,000 Sharp-shinned Hawks were counted migrating past Cape May Point, New Jersey.
  • Project Feeder Watch studies show that up to a third of all predation deaths at feeders are caused by Sharp-shinned Hawks.
  • To survive, a Sharp-shinned Hawk needs to capture and eat one bird per day, on average.
  • The oldest recaptured banded Cooper’s Hawk was still alive at 20 years and 4 months old.
  • The oldest recaptured banded Sharp-shinned Hawk was still alive at 19 years and 11 months old.