Skip to content

Do Hawks Eat Mice? Let’s Find Out in Details!

Do Hawks Eat Mice

Interested in knowing whether or not hawks eat mice? However, you can’t find as much information about this topic on the internet as you would want. Well, you have come to the right place.

So, do hawks eat mice? Yes, they do. In fact, for most hawk species like the red-tailed hawk, mice are their primary staple food. This is because mice are very nutritious and easier to catch than other prey. Therefore, on average, most types of hawks can eat between 6 and 8 mice per day.  

But how do hawks hunt and kill mice? And do all hawk species eat mice? In this article, you will find out everything there is to know about hawks eating mice. So, read on.

Do Hawks Eat Mice

Yes, they do. These birds of prey can feed on anything including dead animals. However, mice are one of their most common foods. In fact, baby hawks can eat 2-3 mice in a day or more depending on the availability of prey. On the other hand, large-sized hawks are likely to consume between 6 and 8 mice per day.

But how do these birds of prey eat mice? Well, some hawks prefer eating small-sized mice whole. But if the mouse is too big, you will find the hawk shredding it into pieces first. This makes it easier for them to digest the meat.

Also worth mentioning is that you rarely find these American birds of prey eating dead mice. They prefer killing the mice and eating the meat when it’s fresh. And like with other prey, they may choose to feed on the mice at the spot where they catch them. Or carry the game and eat it near their nesting sites. 

Hawks Eat Mice

So then, when do these bird-eating birds hunt for mice? Most species prefer eating adult and baby mice in the winter. This is because, during this time, a wide array of animals that hawks prey on are usually in hibernation. However, mice don’t hibernate in the winter. 

What Method Do Hawks Use to Hunt For Mice?

These natural mouse predators use a wide range of tactics to catch mice before killing and eating them. These methods include:

What Method Do Hawks Use to Hunt For Mice

Soaring in the sky

Most hawks, such as the red-tailed species, usually soar in the sky in circles until they can spot mice. Because of their good eyesight, these amazing hunters can spot mice from as high as 100 feet up in the sky. 

Perch and swoop method

This method involves the hawk sitting or perching on a tall tree branch and waiting for the mice. Once it spots its prey, the hawk swoops to the ground to catch it. 

See also:  Do Hawks Build Nests? What Does It Look Like?

Hovering in the air

Some hawk species prefer flying low over an open landscape and staying in a stationary position while flapping their wings. And once it sees its prey, you will see it dive down to pounce on the mice. 

Low soaring

Smaller hawks than the red-tailed species use this tactic when hunting in the open fields. The tactic involves the hawk flying lower or closer to the ground and in a straight line waiting for mice. 

How Do Hawks Kill Mice

It’s simple! Using their razor-sharp talons and honed beaks. A baby or adult hawk will use its sharp claws to grab the mice and pin them to the ground while still alive. This may kill the mice due to suffocation caused by the weight of the bird of prey. 

But on most occasions, the hawk uses its powerful curved beak to kill the mice by tearing their skin. It starts by removing the fur before digging into the flesh. Eventually, this causes the baby mice to die because of losing too much blood.

Which Hawks Eat Mice

While hawks do eat mice, some species like the ferruginous hawks and red-shouldered hawks rarely hunt them. However, there is a wide variety of hawk species that take mice as their primary food source. These include:

Red-tailed hawks

These are one of the largest hawks that primarily feed on mice and rats. As a matter of fact, an average red-tailed hawk can consume up to 28 large mice every week. And unlike other species of hawks, this predatory bird can locate a mouse from as high as 100 feet up in the air.

Red-tailed hawks

Sharp-shinned hawks

Because of their small size, sharp-shinned hawks prefer eating small animals like rodents and small birds. Typically, larger birds carry the mice to a spot near their nest to pluck their fur before feeding on them.

Sharp-shinned hawks

Rough-legged hawks

These species of hawks feed on small rodents during the breeding season. And in winter, you often find them feeding primarily on mice and other small types of mammals. This is because mice are very active during the winter season since they don’t hibernate.

Rough-legged hawks

Cooper’s hawks

Because of their medium size, Cooper’s hawks are another highly skilled and agile predator of mice. You can spot them on open woodlands and wood edges, hunting for small-sized mice.

Cooper’s hawks

Broad-winged hawks

The diet of broad-winged hawks usually changes based on the time of the year. When it comes to eating mice, they do it mainly in the winter when the prey is in abundance. 

Broad-winged hawks

What Other Animals Prey on Mice

The main predators of mice include large and medium-sized birds, like hawks, owls, falcons, the blue jay, crows, and eagles. But besides the birds, there are a variety of animals that prey on these creatures, including:

What Other Animals Prey on Mice

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles such as the black rat snake, bearded dragons, tuatara, lizards, and leopard geckos are also natural mouse predators. As for amphibians, they comprise a variety of large frog species.

See also:  5 Types of Hawks in the US: Which Species are Most Endangered


Other natural mouse predators include both domesticated and wild cats. In fact, feline species like the bobcats, mice are their basic food.

Small mammals

The most common types of mammals that hunt and eat mice include skunks, ferrets, weasels, and minks. For weasels and skunks, it’s actually their primary staple food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now, let’s quickly look at some common questions people ask about hawks and this common prey called mice.

1. Do hawks eat mice whole?

It depends on the size of the mouse. If the mouse is too big, the bird of prey will tear it apart and feed on it. But if the mice are small, even a medium-sized hawk can swallow them whole.

2. How many mice can a hawk eat on average?

The red-tailed hawk is reported to consume up to 28 mice a week. But on average, most hawks eat between 6 and 8 mice per day.

3. Can mice feed on dead mice?

Yes. This is because mice are scavengers and will consume any type of protein. However, this is most common when the food supply is low, like during the winter season.

Final Words

Hawks prefer eating mice not just because of their small size but also because of how nutritious they are. And to catch mice, they may use different hunting tactics like soaring high in the sky. Additionally, some hawk species use the perch and swoop hunting method or hovering in the air.

Also worth mentioning is that these fascinating birds only use their sharp talons and curved beaks to kill mice. However, not all hawks love preying on mice. Some common hawks that eat mice include the red-tailed, sharp-shinned, broad-winged, and rough-legged species.

Do you want to know if hawks eat grasshoppers or squirrels? Read our articles about it to learn more.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts