Hawk vs Eagle: Difference and Comparison

There are various types of birds in this universe, belonging to various classes or families. One of the families is Accipitriformes or also known as birds of prey.


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These birds include those kinds of birds who predominantly hunt and feed on animals/mammals that are large as compared to the birds.

Hawk and eagle are common birds of prey.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey, known for their sharp talons, strong beaks, and excellent eyesight, while eagles are larger and more powerful, with a distinctive hooked beak.
  2. Eagles generally have a broader wingspan and heavier build than hawks, allowing them to soar for extended periods and tackle larger prey.
  3. Both hawks and eagles are skilled hunters and are part of the same family, Accipitridae, but they differ in size, habitat preferences, and hunting techniques.

Hawk vs Eagle

The difference between hawk and eagle lies in their attribute and strength. Hawk is a small bird of prey and has less power than an eagle, but an eagle is a large bird of prey with more robust power.

Hawk vs Eagle

However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the birds on specific parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonHawkEagle
Description of birdMedium size birds with long tails and acute visionLarge-sized birds with massive curved beaks
SizeSmaller sizeMost prominent in size among the birds of prey
How does the size help the birdHelps travel fasterFacilitates the bird to survive in multiple regions and lifts the prey
StrengthStrength is less compared to an eagleMore powerful as the size is big combined with solid claws and sturdy legs
WingsSmaller and short-roundedLarger in size
Body colourThe back is grey or red-brown
Feathers are white
Beak is dark-coloured
Back in black
Feathers are brown
Beak is yellow
SoundHigh-frequency cryProduces narrow cries
Special qualitiesEye-sight, hunting abilities, longer tailRobust build, able to lift extremely large preys
Common species includeSharp-shinned hawks, goshawks, sparrowhawks, red-tailed hawks, cooper’s hawks, ferruginous hawkGolden eagle, bald eagle, harpy eagle, crowned eagle
Example of the largest speciesFerruginous hawkSteller’s Sea eagle
In which regions/places of the world are ordinarily foundFields, deserts, Central AmericaEverywhere in the world, bald eagles normally in Alaska, North America
Techniques used in hunting the preyHide in the trees, attack the prey with surpriseFly and hunt their prey in the air and carry it in the claws
Hunting during nighttimeYesMostly during day
Where are the nests builtNests of sticks on treesNests on tall trees and high cliffs
Eggs laidMore; 2 to 7Usually 2
Type of PreyPrey on small birds, voles, mice, rats, large insects and squirrelsPrey is more significant, which includes snakes, mammals, waterfowls, muskrats, fish, turtles
Lifespanaround 20 to 30 yearsaround 20 to 40 years


What is Hawk?

Hawk is a medium size bird of prey. Hawk has long tails, honed beaks, tough horny nails and curved beaks.

Hawk can vary in colour depending on the species but will mostly be reddish brown on top with black claws.

Hawk has spectacular attributes, including acute vision and the ability to travel quickly.  Hawk may see a thing which is around more than 20 feet from it with solid exactness.

Hawk has multiple species, which may be around 250 plus. Hawk has an average lifespan between 20 to 30 years.

Hawk is considered endangered species because they are rare due to human activities such as poaching.

Hawk is commonly found in deserts, forests, Central America, and polar regions. Hawk can feed on multiple prey such as snakes, small birds, rabbits, lizards etc.

The technique adopted by hawks in catching and killing the prey includes hiding in the trees just before night, springing in with surprise and using their talons to kill the prey.


What is Eagle?

Eagle is a large bird of prey with muscular power and is brown or golden in colour. Eagle has a large wingspan, bent talons and hooked jaws.

Eagle has spectacular features, including solid feet, the ability to prey and carry large prey, acute eyesight, a fibrous body, and feathered legs. Eagles can carry prey over long distances in the air and even grab it without even landing.

Eagles may have around 75 plus species and are commonly found in almost all regions of the world. Eagles are commonly found in Africa, Europe and Asia, with a small number in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Eagles will generally feed on prey such as snakes and mammals. The technique adopted by the eagle for killing the prey includes biting it at the neck and back and gulping it down in its entirety.

Eagle can really fly very high and, combined with their compelling build and strength, is able to catch prey easily.


Main Differences Between Hawk and Eagle

  1. Hawk is tiny, but this helps the hawk travel faster. Eagle is giant in size, which enables it to survive in various regions and lift heavy prey.
  2. Hawk is grey, reddish-brown on the back, with white feathers and a dark-coloured beak. Eagles will have brown feathers and a light beak in colour or shade.
  3. Hawk is less powerful because of its size. Eagle is more assertive because of their large size and wings, herculean talons and heavy legs.
  4. Hawk will prey on smaller birds, rats, and squirrels and attack/catch with surprise. Eagles will prefer prey such as mammals, deer, turtles, and snakes hunting and carrying in the air.
  5. Hawk produces a piping howling noise. Eagle produces subtle screams.
  6. Hawk has more species. Eagle has fewer species.

Difference Between Hawk and Eagle
  1. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/jrr/v032n02/p00143-p00150.pdf
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2307/1350773
  3. https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/mitani/wp-content/uploads/sites/152/2014/08/sanders_et_al_2003.pdf
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