Cooper's HawkAccipiter cooperii (Bonaparte)
Status Rare resident. Breeds. Nineteenth-century specimens mentioned by Gesner (1842) and Gilpin (1881) are suspect. The only concrete evidence of breeding in the province was provided by Harold F. Tufts who found a nest containing four eggs at Black River, King's Couty, on 18 May 1906. The eggs were collected and later acquired by the National Museum of Canada. Belief that the bird occurs regularly, although uncommonly, is strengthened by the number of times it has been reported by cautious observers from widely separated localities. Most have been recorded in September and October, especially during hawk flights on our southernmost islands. Reports of adults during the breeding season include two seen by Harold F. Tufts at Albany, Annapolis County, in mid-may 1929; and birds near Wycocomagh, Inverness County, in July, 1946 (J.E.V. Goodwill), in Kejimkujik National Park on 29 June 1968 (E.L. Mills), and in Cumberland County on 25 and 30 June 1980 (C. Desplanque).
Description Length of male: 35-46 cm. Length of female: 42-50 cm. Adult male: Upperparts blue-gray; underparts white, heavily barred with bright cinnamon; tail ling and rounded at end. Adult female: similar to adult male but upperparts more brownish, less bluish, and upperparts paler. Immatures: Similar in colouring to immature Sharp-shinned Hawks.
Breeding Nest: Made of sticks; usually in deciduous trees in woodlands remote from human habitation. It is very similar but smaller than that of the Goshawk, and smaller calibre sticks are used. The nest found by Harold F. Tufts was built about 6 m up a hardwood tree in open woodland. Eggs: 4-5, usually 4; dull white and rounded.
Range Breeds from southern British Columbia, central Alberta, western Ontario, southern Quebec and Nova Scotia, south throughout much of the United States. Winters north as far as the northern States and southern Ontario, and south to Costa Rica.
Remarks The paucity of acceptable records of this bird in Nova Scotia arises from the fact that it closely resembles its smaller cousin relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, and its larger one, the Goshawk. In adult plumages the Goshawk and the Cooper's are readily distinguishable, but the immatures of both in their first-year dress are brownish gray and striped and look very much alike. In all hawk species the female is considerably larger than her mate, and that is where the confusion lies. The Cooper's averages only slightly smaller than the male Goshawk, and a smaller male Cooper's is about the same size as a larger female Sharp-shin. In addition, the plumages of the Sharp-shin and the Cooper's, both adult and immature, are very similar. When comparing specimens in the hand, however, certain distinctions are readily noticeable. The tail of the Sharp-shinned Hawk is squarish across the end, but that of the Cooper's is longer and rounded. In adults, the top of the head of the latter is considerably darker than that of the former. Cooper's and the Goshawk both have long, rounded tails, but immature birds can be distinguished by noting the whitish superciliary eyebrow line found in the Goshawk but lacking in the Cooper's. The belly of the immature Cooper's is often unstreaked, unlike the other two species. However, even at fairly close range, these differences are not always easily observed. Needless to say, no records of this species should be accepted without the reporting of the above-mentioned details.
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Photo courtesy of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center