What Do Hawks Eat?

Many people have heard of Hawks. Different types of Hawks live in suburban areas, which is where many people see these birds. However, these fascinating birds roam throughout various parts of the world. What many people don’t know is that there are several types of Hawk.

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What do hawks eat?

What Hawks eat is very dependent on the type of Hawk and where they live. But, generally speaking, hawks eat insects, other birds, amphibians, and small rodents. Hawks only hunt for their prey during the day, which can also affect their diet. This wide range of diets is because many species of Hawks do not migrate and are opportunistic hunters. Let’s take a look at what some of the most common types of Hawks eat.

Cooper’s Hawk

A Cooper’s Hawk is similar in size to a crow. An adult Cooper’s Hawk has a blue or steel color on its feathers. They tend to live in suburban areas and hunt in that area too. Because these are medium-sized birds, they can be found hunting for small rodents such as mice and chipmunks, and smaller birds. The types of birds they hunt include Doves and Robins.

The way that Cooper’s Hawks catch their prey is by being stealthy and super fast. They stalk their prey before launching quickly to ensure they have a meal.

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Northern Goshawks

The Northern Goshawk is one of the largest types of Hawk in North America, but not the largest. A Northern Goshawk is a slate grey color with white stripes over its eyes. These birds don’t only hunt from the sky. They hunt while on the ground too. As a result, the Northern Goshawk’s diet is rather balanced compared to some Hawks.

This bird’s diet is a nice balance between other birds and ground mammals. For example, northern Goshawks dine on squirrels, small hares, Woodpeckers, and Songbirds. They don’t have a preference when it comes to their food. These Hawks are opportunistic, so they’ll hunt whatever they come across.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

A Sharp-Shinned Hawk has rounded wings and brownish-grey color on the wings. They also have some white on their chest. Sharp-Shinned Hawks are the smallest hawks, but their favorite meal is songbirds. Many people think that a smaller bird doesn’t feast on small birds, but the Sharp-Shinned Hawk proves this thought wrong.

In fact, these hawks almost exclusively eat songbirds. They prefer to hunt songbirds that are around the size of sparrows or chickadees due to their smaller size. Their diet follows the migration patterns of birds. Therefore they may change the type of bird they hunt if they have to.

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Red-Tailed Hawks

Red-Tailed Hawks aren’t red like their name suggests. They’re a rich brown color with a pale white on their chest. Red-Tailed Hawks prefer to hunt in open spaces. Due to their hunting preference, they tend to feast on small rodents and other mammals. Because these birds cannot hunt other birds as quickly, their slow approach is perfect for rodents.

They typically hunt rabbits, mice, squirrels, rats, and chipmunks. They do eat reptiles and insects, but if they can get their beaks on a rodent, that’s what they prefer.

Broad-Winged Hawks

Broad-Winged Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawks have black and white bands on their tails and a reddish-brown head. The Broad-Winged Hawk is a very opportunistic hunter. They will quite literally eat whatever they can get their claws on. They know that they have to change their diet based on the season and what is available to them.

Broad-Winged Hawks dine on small rodents and birds, snakes, lizards, and even crabs.

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Red-Shouldered Hawks

Red-Shouldered Hawks have a beautiful checkered pattern on their bodies. It’s a mix of brown and white with red undertones. Red-Shouldered Hawks are quiet hunters that do not migrate throughout the year. Because these Hawks are relatively quiet hunters, they can sneak up on many types of prey.

These Hawks eat a large variety of food, which isn’t surprising since they’re opportunistic. They’ve been known to eat small birds, rodents, snakes, frogs, insects, and crayfish.

Swainson Hawks

Not all Swainson Hawks look the same. For the most part, these hawks have white bellies, and the males have a grey head, and females have a brown head. Swainson Hawks have two main diets. During mating season, they eat a lot of small rodents because they are easier to catch and find during that time. When mating season is over, you’ll find them eating a lot of insects.

During the summer months, Swainson Hawks eat dragonflies, insect larvae, and grasshoppers.

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Ferruginous Hawks

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

Ferruginous Hawks have a V on their underparts that can be seen when they’re flying. They have a lot of brown and white spots all over their bodies. Unlike many other Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks primarily hunt from the ground. Their primary diet includes Prarie dogs, small mammals, jackrabbits, and snakes.

Where do Hawks Live?

Hawks live pretty much all over the world. They tend to live in fields because it’s easier to hunt for their prey. But there are several types of Hawks that have made their homes in nests in suburban neighborhoods.

What is the Largest Species of Hawk?

The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest Hawk in North America.

How Long Does a Hawk Egg Take to Hatch?

Most Hawk eggs have an incubation period of about three to six weeks. Depending on the species, it may be shorter, or it may be longer.

Do Hawks See in Black and White?

Most people know that many animals can only see in black and white or shades of grey. But did you know that Hawks actually see in color? This ability helps them be even better hunters.

How Long Do Hawks Live?

It does depend on the species of Hawk, but most Hawks will live anywhere from 13 to 15 years. Some have been known to live up to 20.

How Many Types of Hawks Are There?

There are over 200 species of Hawk that live around the world. In the United States, there are about 16 that commonly live there.

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