Cooper's HawkIdentifying Common Backyard Hawks

Feeding the birds and wildlife in your yard can sometimes bring unexpected visitors, including hawks. Here are the two most common hawks to visit backyards, some tips to tell them apart and how to deter them.

Cooper's Hawk

  • Crow-sized, about 16½" (42 cm) from head to tail
  • A little taller than a WBU Medium Seed Tube Feeder 14½" (37 cm)
  • The tail reaches well below the wing tips while perched
  • Three or four broad bands of dark gray on the tail
  • Pursue prey like a fighter pilot

Red-tailed Hawk

  • About 19” (48 cm) tall from head to tail
  • About the height of a WBU Large Seed Tube 19" (48 cm)
  • The tips of the wings just about reach the tip of the tail while perched
  • Adults have a red tail, juveniles have a brownish tail with narrow bands
  • Pursue prey like a big bomber plane

Deterring Hawks

  • Make sure your feeders and baths are located where there is ample natural protection. Nearby evergreen shrubs, bushes, trees or a brush pile will provide birds with an easy escape when they are threatened by a hawk or other predator.
  • When hawks start hunting in your backyard, take your feeders down for a few days. The hawk should go elsewhere for food and will hopefully find a new location for hunting and not return. Your songbirds will leave while the feeders are down, but will return once you replace your feeders.