Home | About Us | How to Participate | Biodiversity Modules | Projects | Maps | News | Resources

GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Species Code: ACCO

This is an "at risk" species

Highslide JS
Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only.
© NatureMapping Program

+ enlarge map

Predicted breeding range

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat


American Crow photo

Fact Sheet: Basic | Advanced

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

NatureMapping observations map   Map with Breeding 
Bird Atlas records
Observations | Historic Gap points

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)


This species is uncommon throughout forested areas at low and middle elevations, preferring hardwood stands where available and also in northeastern Washington and along the Blue Mountains, in riparian areas of coniferous landscapes. They can also be found in lowland areas throughout western Washington where large stands of hardwood trees exist. They are absent from high elevations due to lack of large hardwood trees.

The core areas of use were all forested areas below Mountain Hemlock and Sub-alpine Fir zones. Good habitats were rivers, marshes, hardwood and mixed forests, and low-density development (except grassy parks).

The BBA data include surprisingly few Cooper's Hawk records. There are probably more Cooper's Hawks breeding in Washington than the BBA data suggest, as this species is reclusive and easily overlooked during the breeding season. All of the confirmed nesting records of this species come from below 3000 feet elevation. The presence of this species as a breeder in the southern Cascades is supported by two BBA confirmed breeding records and by their status in Oregon. The rare published reports of nests include one from Maury Island in 1985. There are a number of BBA records (mostly from possible breeders) for the Cooper's Hawk outside the modeled distribution, especially in Kittitas and Okanogan Counties. Also, given its reported preference for deciduous forests, its apparent rarity in southwestern Washington (where there is an abundance of Red Alder) is puzzling. Possible explanations are: 1) Many Cooper's Hawk records outside the modeled distribution may be migrating birds, from post-breeding dispersal, or misidentified Sharp-shinned Hawks. Some are also probably from birds nesting in small hardwood copses or along unmapped creeks within conifer forest. 2) The reported Cooper's Hawk preference for hardwood or mixed forests is overstated. The location of the records outside the mapped distribution suggests that open conifer forests may also be acceptable. It has been stated that the Cooper's Hawks inhabit "various types of mixed and deciduous forests and open woodlands including small woodlots, riparian woodlands in dry country, open arid pinyon woodlands, and forested mountain regions," (DeGraaf) but it is unclear whether the "open woodlands" can be dominated by conifers. It is also stated that mature coniferous or deciduous forest is a habitat requirement, which would explain the rarity of Cooper's Hawks in southwestern Washington, where most of the forests are both young and dense. We did not include conifer forests in our Cooper's Hawk model, but the question of Cooper's Hawk breeding habitat requirements in Washington needs more research.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester