A hawk never looks eye to eye with an eagle. That doesn’t mean it’s uncommon for them to engage in a fight. What about feasting on each other?
Both birds compete with each other for dominance, so an obvious question may dwell in your mind, do hawks eat Eagles? A hawk cannot hunt and kill an adult Eagle. But it will eat newborn Eagles or their eggs when they get the chance.
We understand the Red-tail Hawk and the Bald Eagle are always fighting with each other for dominance. But that’s an exception. In order to reign over the territory, they fight. But a hawk cannot eat an adult Eagle. Here we have everything you need to know to revolve around your question.
Can Hawks Hunt Eagles?
Naturally, hawks cannot hunt an adult eagle. But they can kill baby eagles or attack an Eagle nest to eat the eggs. Both are birds of prey and expert predators.
However, there are some physical attributes that set both birds apart. Hawks are opportunistic and will eat whatever is available. They use only their sharp talons to kill or rip apart animal flesh.
But that’s not enough to kill an Eagle. Here are the reasons why:
Eagles Are larger Compared to Hawks
The largest Hawk species in the world is the Ferruginous hawk. And even this large predator species lacks the size to go toe to toe with an average Eagle. Not just that, the great Nicobar Serpent Eagle, the smallest of its kind, can compete with a common hawk.
So, competing with an Eagle is not common for hawks in the raptor kingdom.
Eagle Has the Advantage in Wingspan Too
Among the two aerial predators, an Eagle has the largest wingspan. Eagles are big, powerful birds with a wingspan of 8 feet. Most hawks are puny little creatures in comparison, with a wingspan of less than 5 feet. Hawks can soar for a long period of time thanks to their long, broad wings and wide tail. But let’s be honest, they’re just no match for eagles.
This is why an Eagle can fly faster than a common hawk. The large wingspan also gives them an advantage in suitable hunting grounds.
Not to mention, the Eagles are capable of a silent flight. On the other hand, hawks make a slight screeching noise while making a flight.
Also, the larger wingspan gives the Eagles an advantage. They can fly faster and often make aerial pursuits.
And the Stronger One?
We can get the full answer once we understand the strength comparison between the two. Now, both potential predators have strong beaks and powerful talons.
Also, both a hawk and an Eagle have powerful grip. These agile birds prey on small birds, dead animals, burn owls, and any other animals. As long as it’s meat, they are satisfied.
But which species boast the most power? Yes, a Hawk has a powerful grip. But it pales in comparison with that of an Eagle. Even after that, a Hawk and an Eagle seldom get into a fight.
Sometimes they will fight over food or to get control over a particular territory. Not to mention, hawk attacks are pretty common in an Eagle nest. Mainly, they attack larger nestlings or eggs. This way, they can reduce the Eagle population in that area.
The same is true for an Eagle. Hawk nestlings are often taken away by Eagles. So, it’s more of a fight over dominance than actually looking for food.
Which Hawks Eat Eagle?
Just as we said, Hawks never attack Eagles for food. It’s the opposite. Eagles pose considerable threats to hawks. However, they are always competing for dominance.
Mainly, Eagles attack a hawk nest and steal hawk eggs. Also, they prey on smaller hawks for food. On the contrary, some hawk species dare to attack an Eagle nest.
Generally, the red-tailed hawks attack the nest of a Bald Eagle. Well, red-tailed hawks are not that scared of any natural predators. But there are more.
Here are the species of hawks that attack Eagle nests and eat nestlings:
- Ferruginous Hawk
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Sharp-shinned Hawk
- Peregrine Falcon
- Harris’s Hawk
Do hawks attack bald eagles?
Only Red-tailed Hawks attack bald Eagles. These two species of bird of prey rarely engage in fights. Almost every time, it’s a fight to the death. Here is a small clip that you can enjoy-
In 2017, there was a particular case of Bald Eagles raising immature hawks. A pair of Canadian bird watchers spotted the event. Anyway, that doesn’t deny the fact that Bald Eagles and Red-tail hawk rivalry is evident.
Have a look at this glorious scene yourself:
Some species of a hawk make an attempt to attack the Eagle nest. They attack the nest and break the eggs. Also, they feast on the baby Eagles.
How Does a Hawk Hunt Birds?
There are several methods a hawk uses to hunt birds. Yes, Hawk species like Red-tailed hawks hunt Bald eagles or smaller eagles. Not just that, they prey on burn owls too.
Generally, a hawk kills the prey using its talons. The sharp talons make them formidable predators soaring high in the sky.
It’s pretty unusual as most carnivore birds kill their prey with their sharp beak. Anyway, let’s look at the methods common hawks use to hunt birds or avian creatures.
Hunting While High Soaring
High soaring is a common hunting tactic for hawks. Mainly, they soar high in the sky and look for potential prey. Their keen eyesight gives them an edge in finding any potential target.
Once they spot any potential food, they make an aerial chase. While chasing, some species like Red-tail hawks scream to scare the prey and stop it to a halt.
This is the common hunting strategy for hawks because they can cover large areas without spending too much energy.
Common hawks use this strategy to hunt on open fields and meadows. You can call this an opportunistic form of hunting. Harris hawk, red-shouldered hawk, and red-tail hawk use this tactic for hunting prey.
Hawks use this tactic in windy situations. This way, they can catch smaller prey. Also, they can catch larger prey like rabbits and squirrels off-guard. This type of hunting is so fast that birdwatchers often miss the last part.
Hawks use this fast-pacing hunting style for catching smaller birds. Sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s Hawk use this tactic to capture small birds.
Why do they bother with this strategy? It’s because there are swift birds like the songbirds. And when hawks are engaging in a fight with Eagles, aerial pursuit on both sides makes it a spectacular view.
Frequently Asked Question
Here are some common questions we face regarding hawk vs Eagles:
Yes. Bigger hawks prey on small hawks. Not just that, Eagles also hunt small hawks and eat them.
A hawk eats just about anything that has meat. Well, they don’t usually eat fish. Aside from that, they eat dead animals, small birds, snakes, owls, rats, etc.
No. Despite some significant similarities between the two, Hawks and eagles are two different species. Their hunting strategies are different, and their eating habits are different too.
One thing’s clear now; hawks don’t eat Eagles. It’s the other way around. But it’s not a rare sight to see hawks engaging in an all-out clash with eagles.
When there’s a clash between the two birds of prey, it’s a fight to the death. So, do hawks eat eagles? Yes, they will attack an Eagle nest and feed on their babies or eggs.
It’s mainly to gain dominance in the region. But in a head-to-head fight, the hawk doesn’t stand a chance. Only Red-tail hawk shows some promise in competing so far.
Do you want to know if hawks eat pigeons or crows? Read our articles about it to learn more.