Cooper’s hawks are a common member of the Accipiter family that are found across practically all of the US, the southern half of Canada, Mexico, and many other parts of Central America. With their strong, broad wings, Cooper’s hawks are quite imposing, but how big are they?
Among other Accipiter hawks, Cooper’s hawks are relatively large, with wingspans of around 28 to 34 inches (70 to 87 cm). They weigh between 302 and 678 grams (10 to 24 oz). Females are considerably larger than males.
Despite there being no subspecies, the size and weight of Cooper’s hawks vary regionally. For example, birds measured in Wisconsin were some 25% heavier on average than those measured in Nevada and Florida.
Furthermore, in some regions, males and females are very similar in size, whereas, in others, females are up to double the size of males.
There’s much more to learn about the size and weight of these popular hawks - read on to find out!
For Accipiter hawks, Coopers hawks are somewhat large
Cooper’s hawk females are considerably larger than males, with a wingspan of 31 to 34 inches (79 to 87 cm). Males have a wingspan of around 28 to 30 inches (70 to 77 cm).
They have broad wings and long tails that allow them to fly fast and maneuver quickly when hunting. In addition, their compact, broad wingspan enables them to soar through the air easily and quietly, which is vital for capturing prey.
Cooper’s Hawks are able to reach high speeds of over 50 mph while hunting.
Cooper's hawk with wings spread wide
Female Cooper’s hawks are considerably heavier than males at 479 to 678 grams (17 to 24 oz). Males weigh 302 to 402 grams (10 to 14 oz).
Generally speaking, Cooper’s hawks in the north are larger than those in Central America, in-line with Bergmann’s rule. However, there are no formally recognized subspecies, and regional variations can be quite non-linear and unpredictable.
There are many regional variations between Cooper’s hawks. Generally speaking, hawks in northerly latitudes are bigger than those further south, with the largest averages on record being measured in Wisconsin.
Hawks in Wisconsin were considerably larger than those in southern California, Florida, and Nevada. Averages can vary as much as 100 to 150g, which is considerable.
There are also variations in the size difference between males and females. In some regions, females are considerably larger than males, weighing double in some cases. In others, they’re only around 10 to 15% heavier.
Young Cooper's hawk perched in a tree
Cooper’s Hawks are small compared to humans, with an average wingspan of 29 to 37 inches and a body length of 14 to 20.5 inches.
They also weigh between 8.8 to 24.3 ounces, around a quarter of a newborn human baby. Overall, Cooper’s hawks are tiny compared to eagles and other large raptors but reasonably large compared to other hawks.
All this can vary depending on the gender and region, with males typically being smaller than females.
Cooper’s Hawks are powerful birds of prey for their size and hunt animals much larger than themselves. However, that doesn’t mean they can pick them up and fly off with them.
The size of the animal a Cooper’s hawk can lift depends on the individual hawk and the animal in question. Generally speaking, Cooper’s Hawks have been known to hunt small animals like chipmunks and squirrels, but they have also been known to take larger animals like rabbits and other birds up to the size of a pigeon, dove, or small chicken.
The upper limit for what a Cooper’s Hawk can pick up is difficult to pinpoint, as it ultimately depends on the size and strength of the individual hawk. While Cooper’s hawks can kill animals up to double their size and weight, e.g., a rabbit or hare, they can’t literally pick it up and carry it.
Instead, they’d have to eat the animal in-situ or tear it up and transport bits of meat elsewhere.
Male Cooper's hawk perched on a branch
Cooper's Hawk size is an evolutionary adaptation to their habitat - they’re large enough to effectively hunt prey as big as rabbits and squirrels while also remaining adequately agile to avoid other predators. Moreover, as inhabitants of northerly latitudes, Cooper’s hawks need to be relatively large to keep warm in winter - or at least need adequately thick plumage. This bumps up their size compared to other hawks.
Cooper’s hawks are above the average size of members of the Accipiter family, but they’re still significantly smaller than other North American raptors.
Cooper’s hawk’s strong, broad wings enable them to soar and maneuver quickly through dense trees and thick brush. They’re skilled, proactive hunters with a niche for catching small mammals and birds.
In contrast to other birds of prey, like falcons which prefer to kill prey by tearing or attacking with their beaks, Cooper’s Hawks tend to strangle and squeeze their prey with their needle-sharp talons. They’ve even been observed drowning their prey.
Cooper's hawk hunting for prey
In terms of size, Cooper’s Hawks are smaller than large birds of prey like eagles, ospreys and large owl species such as the Eagle owl and Snowy owl.
Weighing just 500g or so (1lb), they weigh almost 10 times less than most North American eagles, which weigh up to 4.5kg (10lb) or more.
Compared to other hawks, Cooper’s hawks are considerably larger than Sharp-Shinned hawks but smaller than Red-Tailed hawks, Northern goshawks, Black hawks, and Ferringhouse hawks (the largest hawks in the US). On the other hand, they’re similar to Red-Shouldered hawks, Harris hawks, and Gray hawks. Overall, they’re slightly larger than the average hawk (across all species globally), but it’s pretty marginal.
Overall, Cooper’s hawks are considered crow-size and are very similar in size, weight, and wingspan to the American crow.
Cooper's hawk perched in a park
A Cooper’s hawk falls under the category of crow-sized birds. It’s safe to say they’re similar in size, but there may be slight differences, mostly regarding wingspans. Ravens, from the crow family, are generally larger than Cooper’s hawks.
Cooper’s Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey, typically measuring between 14 and 20 inches from head to tail.
However, the wingspan of a Cooper’s Hawk can range from 29 to 37 inches, so when it is soaring through the sky, it looks quite large. These birds are still considerably smaller than other North American birds of prey, such as eagles and vultures.
Even tiny dogs weigh 2kg (4.4lb) or so, which is well out of range of what a Cooper’s hawk can pick up. Likewise, Cooper’s hawks can’t pick up more than their own body weight, which maxes out at 678 grams (1.5lb).
In no circumstance can a Cooper’s hawk pick up a dog, but they could attack a tiny dog or puppy in theory. Many North American birds can pick up dogs, but Cooper’s hawks aren’t one of them.
Cooper’s hawks are too small to pick up cats. With a max weight of around 678 grams (1.5lb), Cooper’s hawks are considerably smaller than most cats, including older kittens.
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