Hawks fly up there with some of the most dangerous birds of prey. It’s not hard to see why – they have sharp talons, lighting-quick reflexes, and the ability to catch nimble prey like rabbits and other birds.
In most places, hawks tend to be apex predators. However, sometimes, they are the prey – especially when caught off guard or ill. So, one has to wonder… If hawks are at the top of the food chain, then what eats hawks?
But first, let’s get to know this fascinating creature.
Hawks As Birds of Prey
Hawk is an umbrella term for birds of prey under the subfamily of Accipitridae. Scientifically, they are termed Falconiformes, and “hawks” refer to the group of smaller birds of prey that are active during the day. Globally, there are around 270 species.
Interesting Facts about Hawks
They Have Excellent Vision
The eyesight of a hawk is eight times better than a human’s. They also see most clearly and sharply than any other birds in existence. To put into perspective just how brilliant their vision is – they have one million photoreceptors. Humans have around two hundred thousand photoreceptors.
They’re Committed Mates
Yes, hawks are monogamous birds. Once they have committed, they do not stray, which is pretty rare in the animal kingdom. Indeed, they stay with one partner all their life.
Quick and Speedy
Hawks can dive at the speed of 150 mph when they’re hunting for their prey. They need to dive and capture their prey pretty fast because prey animals are usually very quick! In order to not lose their food, they must be quicker than their prey.
Places They Live In
Hawks are very adaptable. While they can move into different environments, they do have their preferences. Most of the time, hawks tend to build nests in areas surrounding swamps. Otherwise, they live in forests and deep woods.
A Meaty Menu
Hawks prey on smaller animals. They mostly feed on rodents and snakes. They also eat chipmunks, fishes, smaller birds, squirrels, lizards, mice, etc. In this way, they are pretty useful to humans.
What Eats Hawks?
Since they are predators at the top of their food chain, hawks don’t have many other predators that feast on them. However, they are attacked by vultures, eagles, and larger hawks. Goshawks, in particular, are known to kill other hawks when they find them in their territory.
Hawks are at their most vulnerable when they are still unhatched or young hatchlings. Hawk eggs and babies are hunted by animals like snakes and other birds like owls.
Aside from birds and snakes, raccoons and red foxes are also among the predators that sometimes share a taste of hawks. They pretty much attack and eat hawks when they are weak or when they are hatchlings. Coyotes also eat hawks but mostly the dead ones.
Now we know which animals prey on hawks. But here’s a darker question that you might have…
Do Humans Eat Hawks?
Generally, hunting hawks, be it for a game or sport or just to even capture them, is illegal in many parts of the world. But there are people and cultures that feast on hawk meat.
For example, the Kutchins, the Gwich’in of Alaska, are one such people that not only capture hawks but also eat them. They speak Athabaskan and are one of the first nation peoples of Canada.
At the end of the day, most cultures reject the idea of eating hawks completely. Not only hawks but pretty much any species of bird of prey.
Should We Eat Hawks?
Generally, humans prefer not to eat predatory birds. Technically, their meat is safe to eat but if a hawk is a scavenger, it could be dangerous as they eat dead animals and might have built-up toxicity in them.
Even with birds of prey, one might find it unsafe to eat because most of these birds eat rodents and lizards, and fishes, which contain their varieties of toxins and various poisonous elements.
Hawks are majestic, beautiful, and seeing one swoop by in real life will have you enthralled for several minutes. They’re just so glorious! But every predator can sometimes become prey, especially when they are weak or vulnerable.
Humans are super predators, as we now possess the tools and machinery to capture or kill any animal. Although that will be unethical and illegal, it isn’t entirely impossible for humans to also join the natural predators of the hawk.