Hawk Facts

The Hawk is a strong and powerful bird. They have sharp, curved talons for catching prey and hooks on their beaks for biting and tearing flesh. When diving, some hawks reach speeds exceeding 150 mph.

Despite their size, hawks are fierce hunters. Their eyesight is good, and they can see prey from high up. Their primary food is rabbits, mice, lizards, fish, squirrels, or snakes. They perch on trees and swoop down to catch prey.

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Hawk Facts for Kids

  • Hawks have amazing eyesight
  • They live for 12 – 20 years
  • Can reach speeds of 150mph when diving
  • Females are larger than males
  • Hawks are birds of prey or raptors

Hawk Eyesight facts

The Hawk has excellent eyesight. They can see up to 8 times better than human eyes. The primary function of the eyes is to see prey.

Their hearing is excellent, and their eyesight is the best in the animal kingdom. In addition to seeing farther than humans, their visual acuity and ability to see clearly is so much better than that of other animals and give them a high advantage when hunting.

Hawks are tetrachromats, having four types of color receptors in their eyes which allows them to perceive not only visible light but also ultraviolet light and polarised light or magnetic fields.

Hawk Beak Facts

Hawks have hooked beaks that can bite and tear flesh.

A hawk’s beak is designed to tear meat. It has two parts: A hook at the end, which tears off pieces of meat when it bites, and a razor edge along its length, which cuts through bone and sinew.

What do Hawks Eat

A hawk’s diet consists of a variety of small animals like snakes, lizards, fish, mice, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and bugs.

They are very smart hunters. They use their eyesight to spot prey from far away. Then they swoop down quickly and grab it before its escape route is cut off.

Where Do Hawks Live

Hawks can live anywhere but prefer open areas, and they are found in places like Central America, the West Indies, and Jamaica.

Reproduction of the Hawk

Hawks mate for life, but females lay only one to five eggs at a time. The young Hawk begins its first flight after 6-8 weeks. It hunts from an early age.

Hawks are known for their exclusive mating season, where they fly together in a circular motion until the male latches onto the female. After this, the two birds will free-fall to earth together.

How Long Do Hawks Live in the Wild?

Hawks reach an average age of 12 years. The majority die within their first year.

Unlike their parents, young hawks lack the strength and experience of their parents. Their extra vulnerability makes them more susceptible to other predatory birds and man-made hazards.

A lack of effective hunting skills can also lead to starvation among the young. After less than 50 days, the young leave the nest and have to fend for themselves.

Because very few hawk species hunt in groups, they must quickly become independent. 

Hawks are strong, powerful birds

Talons on their feet capture prey, while hooks on their beaks tear and bite flesh. When diving, some hawks reach speeds of more than 150 mph.

Species that migrate thousands of miles each year show their strength and endurance.

Intelligent Birds

Hawks are very intelligent and clever birds. They have been observed using tools such as sticks and stones to catch insects.

Some hawks even learn how to use objects like rocks to help them find food.

The Life Cycle of Hawks

Listed below are the life stages of hawks.

Stage 1: Eggs

During their mating season, adult female hawks lay between one and five eggs. Species and environmental factors affect how long it takes eggs to hatch. This can take between 28 and 48 days.

Stage 2: Fledglings

These young birds are totally dependent on their parents for nutrition. Both parents hunt to feed their young. Each species has its own fledgling phase but tends to be between 42 and 50 days.

Stage 3: Juveniles

Once they leave the nest, hawks are most vulnerable because they must fend for themselves. In their first year, hawks die in high numbers.

Once the Hawk reaches sexual maturity, the juvenile stage is over. 

Stage 4: Adults

Hawks’ chances of survival significantly increase when they reach adulthood. They are more aware of possible dangers and become better hunters.

Types of Hawks

There are sixteen species of Hawk found in the United States. Here are just a small selection

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk native to North America. It is easily confused with the similar Sharp-shinned hawk.

They are called by many names, including big blue darter, chicken hawk, flying cross, hen hawk, quail hawk, striker, and swift Hawk.

They nest in tall trees, and their breeding attempts are often compromised by poor weather, predators, or industrial pesticides.

They are found in various types of temperate deciduous forests and mixed forests, but also in some pure conifer forests in the taiga. It is also found in farmlands and floodplains.

Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a bird of prey found throughout North America and breeds in a variety of habitats, including deserts, grasslands, coniferous and deciduous forests, agricultural fields, and urban areas.

They hunt from a perch and can take a variety of prey, including small mammals (ground squirrels, voles, rabbits, and hares), birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. They are trained for falconry in the United States and are available to be bought.

They make a scream similar to a steam whistle to defy a predator or a rival hawk. It also makes a croaking sound at close range and a wailing cry to get food.

Red-tailed hawks can adapt to almost any habitat present in North and Central America. They occupy a wide range of habitats and altitudes, including deserts, grasslands, nearly any coastal or wetland habitat, mountains, foothills, coniferous and deciduous woodlands, and tropical rainforests.

Ferruginous Hawk

The ferruginous Hawk (or rough-legged Hawk) is a large hawk of the prairies and shrub-steppe. It is used for falconry in the interior parts of North America.

The ferruginous Hawk is the largest of the North American Buteos and can be mistaken for an eagle due to its size, proportions, and behavior. It has an average length of 58 cm (23 in), a wingspan of 122 cm (48 in), and a weight of 32.0 to 80.0 oz.

They prefer arid and semi-arid grasslands and avoid high elevations, forest interiors, narrow canyons, and cliff areas.

They typically hunt small to medium-sized mammals, such as black-tailed jackrabbits, pocket gophers, and ground squirrels, but will also take birds, reptiles, and some insects.

Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a medium-sized hawk that has a tapered, somewhat pointed appearance and is found in some parts of eastern North America and in the Neotropics from Mexico south to southern Brazil.

A short-tailed hawk has a dark brown body, a white belly and chest, and a dark grey-black tail. There are two types of coloring, a dark morph with fewer white areas and a light morph that is paler overall.

They are carnivores that eat small mammals in the summer and in winter. They give special attention to preparing their food and have been observed skinning frogs and snakes and plucking prey birds’ feathers.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk that breeds in eastern North America and along the coasts of California and Mexico.

Adults are 38 to 58 cm (15 to 23 in) long and weigh about 550 g (1.21 lb). Juveniles are similar to broad-winged hawks but are smaller and have more prominent red wing spots.

The western population ranges west through southern Canada, east to Mexico, and south to Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Eastern populations winter from southern Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Ohio, and southern New England south to the Gulf Coast; western populations are largely nonmigratory.

They are able to take prey as big as their own size and may cache food near their nest. Prey includes small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles (especially small snakes), and insects.

Harris’s Hawk

The Harris’s Hawk is a medium-large bird of prey and is sometimes reported at large in Western Europe, especially Britain.

The Harris’s Hawk hunts cooperatively in groups of tolerant birds and is easy to train.

This medium-large Hawk has a reddish plumage and tail feathers. It is roughly intermediate in size between a peregrine falcon and a red-tailed hawk.

They live in sparse woodland and semi-desert (some marshes) and some parts of the country. Important perches and nest supports are provided by scattered larger trees or other features.