Young Red-shouldered or Cooper’s?

So, I’ve asked lots of birders, photographers, and hawk fans, and most say that this is a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. But there’s still a strong contingent voting for Cooper’s Hawk. We have both here in our Wetlands. What do YOU think??

23 thoughts on “Young Red-shouldered or Cooper’s?

    • There’s a lot out there about this question, but here’s a site that’s pretty thorough:
      Here’s an excerpt: “Cooper’s hawk has a luxurious gray upper feather appearance, while the red shouldered hawk is known for its rusty red feathers. These feathers are located primarily on the chest, or the underbelly of the bird. A red shouldered hawk has unique and intricate black and white striped feathers on their wings and tails, while Cooper’s hawks do not have this. While both of these birds of prey have long tail feathers, the wingspan of the Cooper’s hawk is rounded, while the wingspan of the red shouldered hawk is square. However, the main way of telling these two birds apart is by looking out for a red shouldered hawk’s red shoulders, a feature not shared by the Cooper’s hawk.”


  1. Beautiful young raptor!

    Field marks indicate an immature Red-shouldered Hawk. The overall body shape is a bit bulkier than a Cooper’s, the head appears rounder than the somewhat flat profile of a Cooper’s, the eye seems more brown than the yellow of a young Cooper’s (although that could be due to angle and light), the tail of most immature Cooper’s I’ve seen are distinctly striped as opposed to this bird’s more subtle pattern. The markings on the breast are very typical of a young Red-shouldered.

    After all that, I am NOT an expert of any sort! Someone may give us a better summary so we can proceed to a —

    Liked by 1 person

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