Do Hawks Eat Little Birds?

Do Hawks Eat Little Birds

Hawks are well-known for being a violent predator of the smaller birds. Most of the time, they prefer to live in open areas such as fields and deserts. It belongs to the family of Accipitridae.


They are also found in mountainous plains and tropical, and moist areas. This species of birds use their talons to kill their prey. Hawks are recognized as one of the most intelligent birds towards humans and other hawks.

The research was conducted by Louis Lefebvre, a Canadian ornithologist in February 2005. Under it, IQ was measured with the help of their innovation in feeding habits.

In today’s blog post, we will be delving deep to know about Do Hawks Eat Little Birds. Stick with us til the end of this article to understand the predatory behavior and ecological role of hawks in the ecosystem.

Understanding Hawks

Hawks belong to the family of Accipitridae. They are mainly renowned for their predatory prowess. These types of birds have long tails, high visual acuity, soaring flight, and sharp talons.

Generally, these birds i.e. accipitrine hawks hunt birds as their primary prey. Likewise, hawks are also called “hen-hawks”, or “wood-hawks” due to their woodland habitat.

Mostly, these birds are characterized by their curved sharp strong beaks which help to tear the flesh, and the idea for grasping prey with hooked talons.

These fascinating birds, hawks have keen eyesight that helps to catch and spot potential prey from great distances. Besides this, hawks have different types of hunting techniques.

What Do Hawks Eat?

Hawks are carnivores and their primary diet includes a variety of smaller animals. Some of their main diets are rabbits, mice, squirrels, birds, snakes, lizards, voles, and rats.

Hawks eating bird
Hawks eating bird

Their diet depends upon the subspecies of hawks. However, one of the species of hawk i.e. Red-shouldered hawks mostly feeds on smaller birds (especially doves) and bugs (such as crickets and grasshoppers).

Read More: Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Predatory Behavior of Hawks Towards Little Birds

The magnificent bird, hawks as a bird of prey is remarkably known for his hunting techniques in the avian world. These birds often target the small birds to make them a part of their diet.

Using these hunting techniques and strategies these birds can become highly efficient as successful predators. There are some of the hunting techniques that have been used by hawks to catch small birds are as follows:

Surprise Attacks: These types of attacks are considered to be one of the most effective ways to hunt the little birds. Probably, hawks use their keen eyesight to catch their prey off guard. Most often hawks fly down to the ground level which allows them to aim and catch their prey. This surprise attack has increased the chance of catching the prey successfully.

Ambush Attacks: It is a hunting technique that hawks use to catch little birds. It is also known for its ambush tactics, which led the Hawks to wait patiently for an opportunity to strike. After that, it uses incredible eyesight to spot its prey. Then, this bird may perch in trees or on elevated vantage points. Hawks with sharp talons quickly swoop down and catch their prey.

High Soaring and Low Soaring: Another hunting technique i.e. high soaring and low soaring used by the different species of hawks in open habitats. In like manner, high soaring is a hunting tactic used by Red-Tailed hawks.

Whenever hawks are hunting from the high soar, they fly high in the sky because of this they can wait for an opportunity to see on the ground level. This hunting technique has been able to cover a wide range of distances by flying high in the sky.

Similarly, low soaring is a technique that occurs in open habitats such as fields & meadows. Under this hunting technique, Hawks fly lower to the ground level which becomes suitable for catching small prey.

Aerial Pursuit: Being a bird enthusiast, it’s obvious that hawks are skilled hunters. They use a variety of hunting techniques to catch their prey. Among that one of the hunting techniques is Aerial Pursuit. Sharp-shinned Hawks and Coopers Hawks mainly use it. Commonly, this tactic helps hawks to observe small birds above the treetops.

Ecological Impact of Hawks

In the past, some of the observations were conducted that simply indicate that the Hawks are highly adaptable birds of prey. Their habitat mainly prefers to live in open places like deserts and fields.

Additionally, these birds of prey i.e. hawks have played a significant role in maintaining ecosystem balance by regulating the species of prey populations. As a predator, it has helped to control pests and rodent populations.

Other ecological impacts of hawks to maintain the ecosystem are biodiversity, a balance in the tropic levels, and conservation of habitat.

What Are The Benefits of Controlling Small Bird Population?

There are some of the benefits that should be controlled for small bird populations. Such as:

  • Small bird populations can lead to cause significant damage to crops.
  • The presence of smaller birds can increase the risk of transmitting the disease from birds to humans.
  • To protect the native species of bird population and preserve their biodiversity in the ecosystem.

Do Hawks Pose a Threat to Pet Birds?

Yes, Hawks pose a threat to pet birds. As we all know, Hawks are known for a violent predators. While some of the hawks might be quiet and gentle. They are an opportunistic predators.

Hawks threatening
Hawks threatening

These species of hawks are in the family Accipitridae that can hunt a wide range of birds. But, hawks mostly catch pet birds such as Mourning Doves, Warblers, Sparrows, Juncos, American Goldfinches, and House Finches.

Tips for pet owners to protect their pet birds from hawks

There are certain tips for pet owners to mitigate the risks and threats observed from hawks to their pet birds. Some of them are as follows:

  • Firstly, we can educate the pet owners to understand and analyze the behavior of hawks.
  • Then, they can protect the pet birds by providing shelter for them in the backyard which is free from hawks and predators.
  • If the pet birds are kept in outdoor or cages then ensure that the roof of the cage is covered.
  • Try to keep the bird indoors when hawks are mostly active.
  • Hawks are better known for their hunting strategies and techniques, so avoid feeding pet birds on the ground.
  •  It is a bird of prey that has keen eyesight. If the hawk frequently keeps visiting your backyard then try to keep visual deterrents such as reflective tape and shiny objects around the birds that help to deter hawks.


In conclusion, hawks are birds of prey that are experts in hunting medium-sized birds. In the avian world, the little birds are part of their natural diet.

Being opportunistic feeders, hawks eat the whole bird. In like manner, it is also for stealing the baby birds.  With their skillful hunting techniques, the hawks can swiftly capture and kill their prey, relying on their impressive speed.

Overall, it plays a crucial role in maintaining the aspect of the ecological balance of regulating small bird populations and controlling pests populations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What birds do hawks eat?

A hawk mostly eats medium-sized birds. Such as doves, woodpeckers, quails, sparrows, juncos, warblers, and pigeons.

How do small birds know when a hawk is around?

When a hawk is around the small birds, these birds give an alarm call whenever a predator is spotted near them. Also, the smaller birds can see and hear the calls of them.

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