With many types of predators around the world; hawks stand out as being one of the most powerful in the bird world. Do you want to know why? Perhaps it’s because of their strength and the fact they can eat just about anything.
But do hawks eat crows, considering they are around the same size? Yes, hawks eat crows, including the dead birds, if the opportunity presents itself. However, adult crows are not an easy catch because they typically fly in packs. This makes it hard for the hawks to attack them. But for nestling or lone crows, hawks will quickly kill and eat them.
But there’s more about hawks eating crows! So, keep reading to learn how hawks kill crows, what else preys on these birds, and which hawks feed on crows.
Do Hawks Eat Crows?
Of course, yes. Besides owls, the main predators of crows are hawks. Hawks are larger predators that prey on all sorts of animals ranging from rodents to small and medium-sized birds. These birds of prey will eat crows, also known as blackbirds, either alive or dead.
However, hawks will hardly eat adult crows unless the bird is alone or if they are too hungry. This is because crows tend to live in flocks and are very aggressive. Therefore, it is hard for this attacking bird to catch even one because there could be another one coming from behind.
In other words, hawks will resist eating larger birds for fear of being mobbed and poked to death. Another reason is that adult mobbing birds are almost the same size as female hawks. From the table below, you can see what we mean. We will compare the characteristics of an American crow and Cooper’s hawk.
|Factors||American crow (Female)||Cooper’s hawk (Female)|
|Weight||11.1 to 21.9 oz||11.6 to 24.0 oz|
|Length||16 to 21 inches from beak to tail||17 to 20 inches|
|Wingspan||33 to 39 inches||29.5 to 35.4 inches|
|Speed||30 to 60 mph||High speed of over 50 mph|
So then, what kind of crows do hawks eat? These raptors mainly prey on young crows, also known as crow nestlings, during the breeding season. However, they only attack the unsuspecting prey when left unprotected in the crow nests.
How Do Hawks Kill Crows?
Hawks are a major threat to American birds. As such, they use a different hunting strategy depending on whether the American crow is a nestling or an adult. Let’s check out these methods.
Killing nestling crows
Young crows are easy prey for hawks and other predatory birds. This is because they are not as strong as their adult counterparts. The hawks’ hunting strategy only involves squeezing their life out using their muscular feet.
Killing adult crows
Because of the strength of adult birds, the hunting strategy that this natural predator uses on crow nestlings does not work on them. So, hawks have to grip the adult crows with their sharp and massive talons to restrain them from escaping.
Another strategy they use is to stand on top of the American crow. This is usually for the purpose of pinning the larger bird down using their whole body weight. Consequently, this makes the powerful bird tire and eventually give up on the fight. In some cases, the American crow may die because of a lack of airflow.
However, if the American crow is still alive, the hawk will pluck its feathers using its curved but sharp beak. Then, use its claws to slash open the body, leading to blood loss and eventually the crow’s death.
Which Hawks Eat Crows
Now that you know how these predatory birds kill American crow species, let’s find out which common hawks eat them.
Cooper’s hawks have been known to attack crows for centuries and vice versa. This is because both birds species are around the same size. Generally, Cooper’s hawk usually approaches the crows stealthily, using dense vegetation to hide their presence. And once they get the opportunity, they attack their prey with a sudden burst of speed.
Sparrowhawks are relatively small-sized birds compared to their Cooper counterparts. They usually kill an adult or baby crow by piercing their vital organs with their powerful talons.
Compared to the sparrowhawk and Cooper’s hawk, the female red-tailed hawk is quite big at 18-25 inches in height. Therefore, this predatory bird can attack adult crows with ease using its powerful, curved talons and sharply hooked beak. However, it only uses its claws to catch and then kill the American crow.
Another type of hawk known to hunt and eat crows is the goshawk. Because of its large size, a crow is no match for a male goshawk in terms of agility or flying ability. Therefore, a goshawk can suddenly drop on crows and kill them in pursuit in the air or on the ground.
What Else Preys on Crows?
Besides the hawks, crows have other predators, including larger birds like owls, falcons, and eagles. Typically, owls will prey on crows at night, while hawks and eagles can eat dead crows during the day.
Another potential predator of these intelligent birds is humans. Humans often cut trees, which are a natural habitat for the crows and their nestlings, thereby negatively affecting crow populations. Other animals that are a threat to crows include:
- Venomous snakes
- Domesticated dogs and cats
- Sharp-shinned hawks
How Do Hawks Eat Crows?
Similar to other prey, hawks eat whole crows. Simply, they feed on everything, including the crow’s feathers, head, and other organs. In addition, hawks also swallow the bones of these scavengers and then vomit anything they cannot digest.
If you happen to watch a female red-tailed hawk eating a crow, you will notice it uses its beak to tear the flesh apart. The claws are mostly for killing the crow and restraining it from flying away.
Interested in learning more about hawks and crows? Below, we will respond to some of the commonly asked questions about these two agile birds.
It’s because crows don’t fight alone but rather in groups and are known to be aggressive to any bird. On the other hand, a flock of crows is afraid of hawks because they see them as a threat, especially to their nestlings.
Any active hawk will also prey on rodents, squirrels, lizards, insects, and snakes. They will also eat small-sized animals like frogs, rabbits, hares, chipmunks, and prawns. In other words, hawks feed on just about anything.
Yes, crows are also a threat to hawks when acting like a mob of several birds. However, a single crow cannot take down one or a pair of hawks. This is because most hawk species are larger in size than crows.
Although hawks eat alive and dead crows, they rarely do it. These intelligent birds rarely give them a chance because they are always flying in flocks. But when they get the opportunity, hawks usually kill crows with their sharp talons. They also use their body weight to pin them to the ground for ease of killing.
In most cases, Cooper’s hawk, sparrowhawk, goshawk, and red-tailed hawk are responsible for these crow attacks. But besides these hawk species, these aggressive birds have other prey, such as owls, eagles, falcons, snakes, and raccoons.
Do you want to know if hawks eat eagles or owls? Read our articles about it to learn more.