Hawks are adept hunters, and they have one of the biggest diet ranges among birds of prey. Even though they only eat meat, they rarely get into food shortages thanks to their superior hunting skills. They hunt in the wild and sometimes try their luck on poultry for easy prey.
You might be thinking do hawks eat ducks? Yes, they do. Hawks are a natural predator of ducks. It doesn’t matter if it’s a wild duck or a farm duck; if hawks see an opportunity, they will most certainly attack it.
In this article, we will elaborate on how a hawk kills a duck, which hawks eat ducks, and how often. Please read the whole article to get all the answers.
Do Hawks Eat Ducks?
Yes, hawks do eat ducks.
Duck lings are one of the easiest prey for hawks. Any small size duck falls under the easy prey category as well. Hawks usually go for farm ducks because they usually lack the agility to escape a hawk’s attack.
That’s why duck house owners or duck farmers always take precautions to avoid any hawk attack.
Hawks are adept hunters, there is no question about that, but even with superior eyesight, and strong claws, they sometimes struggle to hunt full-grown ducks. There are species of ducks that are bigger than any species of hawks. So hunting prey larger than itself is a bit problematic for hawks.
But that doesn’t stop them from trying. You may say hawks have bigger eyes than their stomach, which means they are quite greedy. Hawks usually go for ducklings or small size ducks. But sometimes, they go for big adult ducks that weigh 10 pounds or more.
Hawks would never let go of an opportunity to hun duck, doesn’t matter how big it is. Adult ducks that are big in size are difficult to kill for hawks. Even if a hawk manages to injure or kill a big duck, it can not carry the duck to its nest.
That’s why you may find dead or injured ducks away from duck farms randomly because hawks couldn’t carry them all the way to their nest and dropped them.
Which Hawks Eat Ducks?
Any species of the hawk can eat ducks, but red-shouldered, red-tailed, and coopers hawks are mostly seen attacking and eating ducks.
Cooper’s hawks have brown-grey or blue-grey feathers. They are woodland birds and hunt wild ducklings sometimes. They may attack duck farms, too, but it is a bit rare.
Any hawks specie may attack and eat ducks if given the opportunity, but these three hawks specie are well-known duck eaters. The duck farm owner or anybody who owns a pet duck knows about these common hawks attacking ducks. And they take necessary precautions to prevent any hawk attack.
Locals even gave a name to hawks who eat farm chickens and ducks which is “chickenhawk“. They gave this name out of frustration. Because hawks should hunt in the wild only, not on farms or back yard, and even if they do, people can’t get rid of those hawks by hunting them because that is illegal.
Red-shouldered hawks have white and black striped feathers, which makes them easy to separate from other hawk species. They usually eat small animals like rodents and, from time to time, attack chicken and duck farms. So ducks are definitely in their diet.
Red-tailed hawks are mostly seen in North America. Red-tailed hawks attack any small animal, including ducks. Among the hawk species, red-tailed hawks are known for their fierceness. They even attack ducks that are bigger than them.
How Does a Hawk Kill Duck?
Hawks have superior eyesight, which is almost eight times better than the human eye. So they can spot a duck or other prey from high in the sky or from the tallest branch of a tree.
After spotting a duck, if they see an opportunity to attack, which means no human, watchdog, geese, or rooster around the prey, then they attack. They attack from above, so ducks don’t usually notice it. Hawks use their sharp talon to grab and kill ducks.
After killing or injuring it very badly, they carry it to their nest. Sometimes the duck may be bigger than a hawk to carry, which is more than 8 pounds. Hawks can not carry weight more than 8 pounds, so they drop the duck after trying to carry it for a bit.
In general, a hawk can carry only their own body weight.
Here is a video of a hawk snatching up a duckling.
How To Prevent Hawks From Eating Ducks?
If you have a duck farm or a duck house in your yard, obviously, they will be prone to get attacked by hawks. And if your pet duck gets attacked or killed, you will feel sad and helpless.
Helpless because you can’t really kill hawks. They are federally protected. Does that mean there is nothing you can do to keep hawks away from your ducks? There is a couple of things you can do, which we elaborated on below.
- You can get a trained watchdog. Watchdog discourages hawk attacks on ducks.
- Get rid of things that attract hawks, like duck feeders, rodents, etc. You can use a shield or protector on the duck feeder to discourage hawk attacks.
- Hawks prefer to attack in open areas. So try to use an overhead cover or something similar to discourage hawk attack.
- Use a scarecrow or owl decoy in the middle of your yard or farm.
- Get rooster or geese as protection against hawk attack.
- Take extra precautions during the cold season.
We get some additional questions regarding hawk and duck; some of these questions are answered below.
Yes, they do. But they don’t go around hunting duck eggs like coyotes or raccoons. They eat duck eggs if they have an opportunity.
No, they don’t. Unlike owls, hawks can not see at night. So they don’t hunt during the night; they only hunt during the day. If you are worried about your duck house at night for a hawk attack, don’t be.
We hope you got your answer on do hawks eat ducks or not. Hawks are one of the natural predators of ducks. If you own a duck farm or pet duck that roam in an open area, then you better take some precautions we recommended in this article.
Even if no hawk attack has happened to your duck so far, you should still take precautions. You know, as they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember, the hawk population is highest in North America, but they can be found in South America as well.