In Alabama during: Fall | Spring | Winter
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Accipiter cooperii
OTHER NAMES: Chicken hawk, blue darter, quail hawk
STATUS: Breeder. Fairly common in fall in Gulf Coast region, uncommon in winter and spring, and rare in summer. In other
regions, uncommon year-round. Low Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: Cooper’s hawks are medium-sized birds with long, lean bodies and short, rounded wings.
They have a long rudder-like tail that is crossed by several dark bands with a distinct white band at the tip.
They belong to a group of hawks known as accipiters that hunt primarily below treetop level and subsist
chiefly on small birds and mammals. Several rapid wing beats followed by a brief period of gliding give
the Cooper’s hawk an unusual flight pattern. The Cooper’s hawk does exhibit an explosive acceleration
and reckless abandon when pursuing its prey. This darting through the forest and under-story in pursuit
of small birds led to the nickname “blue darter”. The Cooper’s hawk has a blue-grey back with a dark
blackish crown and a lighter nape. The long barred tail is more noticeable in flight than the short, rounded
wings. The eyes are yellow in juveniles turning to orange and finally to red in adults. The curved beak is
black on the tip and bluish at the base. Legs and feet are yellow. Males tend to be smaller than females
but are more brightly colored than females.