- Photo(s): Phil Bentley
The stair-step pattern to the under-tail is caused by the different lengths of the tail feathers which confirms that it is a Cooper’s Hawk.
This beautiful young and medium-sized accipiter appeared under the author’s porch in mid-November and stayed around for more than five minutes checking out various perches on furniture. Its prey, the numerous birds around the feeder, had long since scattered. According to our own Ned Harris, this individual is a young adult with adult plumage but still retaining its yellow eyes which will eventually turn to red. Ned also pointed out that the stair-step pattern to the under- tail is caused by the different lengths of the tail feathers which confirms that it is a Cooper’s Hawk and not a Sharp-shinned Hawk that is nearly identical but smaller.
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds lists this species as uncommon (though not in the author’s yard) and it often hunts around houses and bird feeders and is found in woods and edges of woods like our Sabino Canyon riparian area. Our naturalists often observe the Cooper’s Hawk and its nests high in the tall trees behind the Sabino Dam.