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What Eats Hawk: The Predator’s Predators (2022 Updated)

Hawks are predatory birds nearly on top of the food chain, which means they feed on a wide variety of prey, but only a few animals hunt and prey on them.

Despite their strong beak, sharp claws, alacrity, and hunting abilities, there are moments in a hawk’s life when it’s weak and vulnerable, and that’s when it becomes the prey.

Sadly, the weakest and most vulnerable moments occur even before the hawk hatched while still in the egg, and things do not get any better after hatching.

If left unprotected, eggs and young hawks are equally in jeopardy: the eggs and hatchlings are in danger because of the climbing predators.

The young hawks risk falling prey to animals and birds of prey when they go too far away from their parents’ sight during flight lessons.

As it grows older, more powerful, and wiser, the hawk has fewer and fewer predators; however, a hawk is, in fact, a bird, which means it is not invincible and can injure itself like any other bird or animal in the wilderness.

Therefore, a wounded hawk that cannot fly or defend itself is easy prey for other predators; obviously, a dead hawk will also become food for scavengers and other beasts of prey.

Let’s find out what those beasts of prey are, who the climbing predators are, and what other enemies hawks have; but first, to understand why hawk is such difficult prey, let’s find out who it is.

A Short Introduction Of Hawk

Hawks (Accipitridae) are a vast family of prey birds, with over two hundred species spread worldwide except Antarctica, mainly in the woodlands (although they can adapt to any environment).

Both birds are excellent diurnal hunters due to their sharp vision (four types of color receptors in the eyes and up to one million photoreceptors in the retina) and high intelligence (according to a Canadian avian IQ scale).

In addition to all those receptors, numerous nerves connect them to the hawk’s brain; moreover, a serrated small central pit in the retina, called the fovea, helps the bird magnify the central portion of the visual field (cortical magnification).

The sense of smell is weak, but the hearing is sharp, yet, the hawk’s “super-power” is, actually, its speed, some species reaching up to two hundred and forty kilometers per hour during air diving.

Except for the migratory species, the hawk is a solitary bird: usually mates with one partner and only in the breeding season, outside of it surviving alone.

Hawks vary remarkably in coloring and sizes, among species and even among individuals: the female being, in general, more prominent than the male, for example.

The biggest hawk species is the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), reaching up to sixty-nine centimeters in length, two-point two kilograms weight, and a hundred and up to twenty-seven centimeters wingspan.

The smallest hawk species is the Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus), weighing eighty-five grams, whose body length hardly reaches twenty-five centimeters and opens its wings up to fifty-two centimeters.[1]

What do you think? Could a Northern Goshawk hunt, kill, and eat a Little Sparrowhawk?

Further in this article, I invite you to find out who is the hawk’s predators, why, and in what circumstances they can hunt these almost impossible to catch majestic birds.

Hawk’s Predators

Bigger Hawks Eat Hawk

A Gabar Goshawk (for example) could and undoubtedly will attack, kill, and eat the tiny Little Sparrowhawk, especially if the victim has the “luck” to pass by mistake through the big and bad hawk’s territory.

In general, a hunter of smaller hawk species, Gabar Goshawk, is the main natural predator of the adult Little Sparrowhawk, so, yes, the first line of hawk’s enemies lies right among their kin:

More giant species of hawks will prey upon and feed with smaller hawks, regardless of their appurtenance to the same family.

Not that smaller species of hawks would be less skilled than others, but the big hawk species tend to establish dominance in the habitat:

Their skills, experience, size, and strength leave no chances of survival to a smaller hawk species; luckily, if it’s not a territorial matter, the big hawks are likely to attack small ones only in cases of short food supplies.

Do Eagles Eat Hawk?

Do Eagles Eat Hawk

Credit: @gmessy30

Eagles are large birds of prey belonging to the same Accipitridae family, with about sixty species in Eurasia and Africa, nine in Central and South America, three in Australia, and two in North America.

Since hawks are found everywhere, there are high chances for these two raptor birds to meet and compete over territories and nesting sites or simply challenge each other in the pursuit of food.

The enormous eagles are also more vicious in their war against the hawks, often attacking hawks’ nests, preying on hawklings that can’t fly very well yet, and sometimes even small hawk species.

The adult fighting birds won’t kill and eat each other per sei: the repetitive attacks over the hawk’s nest and its attempts to defend it will eventually lead to the injury of the adult hawk also, making it vulnerable to other predators’ attacks.

Also Read: Eagle vs Falcon vs Hawk: Identifying and Comparing (Ultimate Guide 2022)

Do Owls Eat Hawk?

Owls also compete with hawks for nesting sites and territory, and they are just as vicious as the eagles in their fight: they are deadly, destroy the hawk’s nests, and prey on their young.

The owl is even more dangerous for the hawk if it challenges it during the night, when the owl’s vision is at its best, while the hawk has a vision adapted for the daytime light.

Hawks might be somehow aware of this deficiency, and that’s why they choose to remain inactive and out of focus at night; however, this only increases the risk of being attacked.

Although the bold owl won’t hesitate to attack a neglectful adult hawk, they usually target its eggs, hatchlings, or young hawks.

Also Read: Why Do Owls Hoot During The Day (5 Reasons)

Do Foxes Eat Hawk?

Like the hawks, foxes can live and are spread pretty much everywhere, so it’s very likely for the two to meet and the fox to target the hawk’s nest and prey on it.

The fox is a sly predator, lurking and waiting for a chance to attack, even if that might take many long hours.

Although the fox usually goes for hawk’s eggs and hatchlings, sometimes it feels confident enough to try its luck even with young smaller hawks that neither flies well enough to escape nor are prepared for an attack.

Fox’s strategy is a trial of wounding the young hawk, even if just a little bit, making it bleed, unable to fly, thus unable to protect itself.

Also Read: Do Foxes Attack Humans?

Do Raccoons Eat Hawk?

Being excellent climbers, always hungry, and in a continuous search for food, raccoons love attacking unprotected hawk’s nests (and not only).

Just like the fox, the raccoon targets the eggs and hatchlings and hunts for an opportune moment when the mother bird is not around.

Although there are situations when the mother-hawk must leave the nest, sometimes the raccoon’s plan doesn’t go very well because there is, in fact, a protective hawk nearby.

Of course, since the raccoon is also on the hawk’s menu, the mammal won’t plan or insist to prey upon the raptor bird, but if it stumbles on an already dead one, won’t hesitate to eat it.

Also Read: What Do Raccoons Eat? Do They Feed on Plants or Animals?

Do Snakes Eat Hawk?

Do Snakes Eat Hawk

Credit: @reppylife

Yes, the things are usually the other way around, and snakes are naturally on the hawk’s menu.

However, snakes with too much self-trust ended up in a hawk’s beak, and each predator believed that the other one was the meal.

There are records of snakes fighting back an attacking hawk and nearly winning, but adults hawks are not the snakes’ targets.

Like most other hawk’s predators, snakes will turmoil an unsupervised nest, eating the eggs or preying upon hatchlings.

Unlike other hawk’s predators, snakes are very agile hunters, silent, and difficult to observe; above that, their climbing abilities make the hawk’s high nests not so safe anymore.

Due to its silent presence, the snake can get very close to the nest and surprise the young hawklings or even catch an adult hawk into a fast but poisonous bite.[2]

Do Wolfs Eat Hawk?

It is rare and doubtful for a hawk to meet a wolf, considering one is an (excellent) flying bird, and the other is a terrestrial mammal.

Moreover, wolves usually hunt in packs of about four to six wolves so that a hawk wouldn’t make that much of a feast for them.

But the wolf is also an opportunistic feeder, and if it stumbles upon a wounded, a dead, or a juvenile hawk, it will gladly eat it.

So wolves do eat hawks on rare occasions but do not actively hunt them, as the wolves’ diet usually consists of medium and large mammals (enough to feed the whole pack).

Do Humans Eat Hawk?

Above everything, hunting or even capturing hawks is illegal in many places worldwide, mainly due to their helpful feeding habits; and secondly, they do not represent any danger for humans.

Although most civilizations reject the idea of raptor birds consumption, some tribes in Alaska and some locals from the midwest and southwest of America capture and eat hawks.

The consumption of raptor birds meat is not indicated due to the risk of one exposing themselves to toxins and poisons the bird might have ingested from its prey (snakes, rodents, frogs, etc.).

Of course, in the scarce case when one finds themselves in the wilderness with no other food sources, it is safe to eat a raptor bird as long as they make sure that the bird is not a scavenger one, although it might not taste delicious.[3]

What Other Animals Eat Hawks?

Keep in mind that the hawk is a bird of prey, almost at the top of the food chain, and it has very few enemies.

Most of the animals that would dare or dream of feeding on hawks are scavengers, mainly because a dead hawk is the surest hawk to catch.

Therefore, going on this idea, any scavenger animal or opportunistic carnivore could and will eat an injured or a dead hawk; those animals could be bears, coyotes, crows, hyenas, etc.

Just as much as the eggs and hatchlings of the hawk can fall prey to any nests predator that could reach it.

Conclusions

Although it is a predatory bird nearly on top of the food chain, the hawk still has its fair share of predators.

The natural enemies are found among its kin, bigger species of hawks remaining a threat even as the hawk gets to adulthood.

Otherwise, the most sensitive period in a hawk’s life is the egg period and the first three months of life until they master the flying.

After the first three months, the chances for a hawk to become the prey grow weaker and weaker as the hawk grows stronger, smarter, and wiser.

The various predators that would attack a hawk’s nest could also represent an injury hazard for the adult bird:

The fights against the more giant raptor birds, the poison from the snakes that could bite the hawk, or catching other animals preying their nests (like foxes, for example) could harm a hawk and make it vulnerable to predators attacks.

Most human civilizations reject the hawk’s meat consumption and forbid its hunting or captivity by law; nonetheless, some isolated tribes have no problem eating the majestic bird.

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