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Cooper's Hawk, Laure Wilson Neish
Photo © Laure Wilson Neish

Photo: Laure Wilson Neish
Breeding evidence - Cooper's Hawk
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Cooper's Hawk
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Cooper's Hawk
Elevation plot

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Cooper's Hawk
Accipiter cooperii
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
4 - 1518 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
57 33 236 40
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 -2.12 (-5.4 - 1.29)Medium
Canada1970 - 2012 -0.476 (-2.46 - 1.64)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
 0.11 0.060.1 0.06
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
   0.110.06 0.11
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.060.11 0.09  0.07

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.08 0.11 
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce
0.07 0.110.08

Characteristics and Range This medium-sized raptor is well-adapted to the wooded environments it inhabits with powerful, short, rounded wings and a long tail that enable it to steer and manoeuvre through clumps of trees. It is generally inconspicuous except in the mature suburban neighbourhoods that it has successfully colonised because they provide plentiful wooded-edge habitats and small bird and mammal prey supplies. Its range spans the continent south of the Boreal Forest to the forested hills of Mexico. Some northern populations migrate short to medium distances. Along with many other raptors, it suffered declines during the mid-20th Century as a result of pesticide accumulations and persecution, but has recovered and is now thriving (Curtis et al. 2006).

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat It breeds rather patchily across southern and central British Columbia, the main clusters of breeding season distribution being in the Georgia Depression and the Southern Interior ecoprovinces. It has expanded its provincial range north and northwest from the known range when The Birds of British Columbia was published was published in 1990; breeding is now confirmed at several locations in the Peace River lowlands, with numerous possible breeding occurrences across the Interior and Nechako plateaus as far northwest as the Skeena Valley.

The Probability of Observation is low everywhere, and too few data are available to draw any conclusions on abundance. Slightly higher PObs values in the lower Fraser Valley, southeast Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan and Thomspon valleys indicate that these are the most likely areas to find this hawk.

It inhabits a wide variety of wooded habitats, including pure coniferous forest (especially with a Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii component), mixed deciduous woodlands, Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and Red Alder (Alnus rubra) stands, small woodlots and strips of riparian woodland (Campbell et al. 1990). It also readily adapts to suburban areas with mature trees, and is tolerant of habitat fragmentation and disturbance.

Conservation and Recommendations Although Cooper's Hawks naturally occur at relatively low densities, there are no major conservation concerns. Populations have rebounded from the mid-1900s decline, and are now faring well in most parts of the continent, including British Columbia. The apparent range expansion in the province should continue to be tracked through programs like eBird, and future atlas efforts.

Peter J.A. Davidson

Recommended citation: Davidson, P.J.A. 2015. Cooper's Hawk in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [13 Jul 2024]

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