COOPER'S HAWK: MULE MOUNTAIN ELEGANCE
The Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) in Bisbee, Arizona, located in the Mule Mountains, is a medium-sized hawk native to North America. This raptor is well-adapted to both woodland and urban environments, making it a common yet distinguished sight in the area.
Size and Build
Cooper's Hawks are relatively medium-sized birds of prey, with a length of about 14-20 inches and a wingspan ranging from 24 to 35 inches. They have a somewhat larger size compared to other Accipiters but are smaller than Red-tailed Hawks.
Plumage and Coloring
Adult Cooper's Hawks have a slate-gray back, reddish-barred chest, and underparts, with a dark cap on a paler nape and cheeks. Juveniles display brown upper parts and are streaked rather than barred with brown on the underparts. Their eyes are yellow at a young age but turn red in adulthood.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Cooper's Hawk is their long, rounded tail with a distinct white band at the tip. They also have short, rounded wings which are ideal for maneuvering through dense woodland.
Habitat and Distribution in Bisbee
In Bisbee, Cooper's Hawks are commonly found in mixed woodlands, including deciduous forests and pine-oak woodlands. However, they have also adapted remarkably to urban environments, often seen in backyards and parks.
Range and Movement
While some populations of Cooper's Hawks are migratory, the ones in Bisbee and the surrounding Mule Mountains tend to be resident year-round, thanks to the mild climate and abundant prey.
Behavior and Diet
Hunting and Prey
Cooper's Hawks are skilled hunters, primarily feeding on birds and small mammals. They are known for their surprise tactics and swift, agile flights, often pursuing prey through dense vegetation.
Breeding and Nesting
The breeding season sees these hawks building nests high in the trees, using sticks and twigs. They are monogamous during the breeding season, with both parents involved in raising the young.
The Cooper's Hawk has a conservation status of 'Least Concern'. However, they were once heavily persecuted due to the misconception that they significantly impact domestic bird populations.
Threats and Conservation Efforts
Modern threats include habitat destruction and secondary poisoning from rodenticides. Conservation efforts in Bisbee and broader Arizona involve habitat protection and public education about the importance of raptors in the ecosystem.
Cultural and Ecological Significance in Bisbee
Role in Local Ecosystem
In the Mule Mountains ecosystem, Cooper's Hawks play a crucial role in controlling the population of small birds and rodents, thus maintaining a balanced environment.
In Bisbee, the Cooper's Hawk is often celebrated for its majestic presence and is a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. The hawk's adaptability to urban settings also makes it an integral part of the local wildlife experience.