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Similar Species Information

"Cooper's Hawk vs. Sharp-shinned Hawk"

Cooper's Hawk

Adult Immature

Cooper's Hawk - Male and female Cooper's Hawks have similar plumage, ranging from 14-20 inches but the female is about one third larger than the male. Adults are gray above with a darker contrasting cap on the head, the underparts are barred reddish-brown, the tail is long, rounded, and barred, and the wings are rounded. During the first year, Cooper's Hawks are brown above, with brown streaking on the white underparts. Adult eyes are red; first year bird's eyes are yellow.

• Longer overall with a larger head
• Dark cap that contrasts with white face
• Wings are rounded and straighter
• Longer, rounder tail with broader white tail tip
• In flight wing beats are slower and seem stiff
• Yellow, thicker legs that may also appear shorter
• Longer neck projection in flight

Cooper's Hawk species page

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Adult Immature

Sharp-shinned Hawk -
Male and female Sharp-shinned Hawks vary in size more than any other North American hawk. They range in size from 10-14 inches with females being the larger bird. Adults are gray above with barred, reddish-brown under parts. Their barred tail is long, narrow, square-tipped, and has a narrow pale band on the end. Adult eyes are red; first year bird's eyes are yellow.

• Compact, small rounder head, lacking capped appearance
• Approximate size of a Mourning Dove or Blue Jay
• Less contrast between back and crown
• Shorter squared-ended tail with narrow pale tip
• Fast fluttery, erratic wingbeats when in flight
• Short, rounded wings that are set forward giving this bird a "heavy-shouldered" appearance
• Yellow "Pencil thin" legs
• Short neck projection in flight

Sharp-shinned Hawk species page