Hawk vs Falcon: Difference and Comparison

Due to their vicious hunting techniques, hawks and falcons are considered birds of prey. For many years, people have come to tame these birds and used them for various purposes.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hawks possess broader wings and shorter tails, making them skilled at soaring and maneuvering in wooded areas.
  2. Falcons have long, slender wings and tails, enabling them to reach high speeds and dive to catch prey in open areas.
  3. Although both are raptors, they exhibit different hunting strategies; hawks rely on stealth and ambush, while falcons employ speed and agility.

Hawk vs. Falcon

The difference between hawk and falcon is that the former has unique paws that allow them to hunt efficiently, while the latter has pointed and sharp beaks that assist them in capturing their prey.

Hawk vs Falcon
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Hawks belong to the Accipitrinae subfamily (divided further into many more sections) and are characterized by their long tails and a simple curved beak.

Falcons belong to the falconine subfamily, and all the members belong to the same genus. One can identify them by their sharp tip wings and angular-shaped beaks.


 

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonHawkFalcon
Family/SubfamilyHawks are seen to belong to the Accipitrinae subfamily, which includes many subsections, such as goshawks, sparrowhawks, and sharp-shinned hawks.Falcons belong to the family Falconidae and the subfamily Falconinae. Unlike hawks with many genera, all the species come under the same genus.
SizeCompared to their body size, hawks are more massive than falcons, even with their short wingspan.Falcons are smaller than hawks, but they have large pointed wings to assist them in flying fast.
CharacteristicsHawks have sharp nails, muscular legs, a sharply curved bill, and long tails. They have a short wingspan.Falcons have long, pointed wings, excellent eyesight (twice as good as humans), and sharp beaks.
SpeedDue to having shorter wings, hawks are slower in comparison to falcons.Falcons are known for their fantastic speed in the air. Their long wings make them quicker than most birds of prey.
Hunting techniquesHawks depend on their sharp talons to capture their prey while hunting.Falcons use their speed to swoop down from the skies and capture their prey with their beaks.

 

What is Hawk?

Hawks are one of the larger birds of prey, equipped with natural keen senses and eyesight to hunt both large and small animals.

These birds come under the Accipitrinae subfamily, which includes many subsections, such as goshawks, sparrowhawks, and sharp-shinned hawks. Due to the vast number of different hawks worldwide, they can be classified under several genera.

The hawks have many distinct features that separate them from birds, such as eagles and falcons, and give them an added advantage in hunting. These features are –

  1. Incredible eyesight, almost eight times better than that of a human being.
  2. Hawks have big and sharp talons
  3. They also have muscular legs that allow them to overpower their prey
  4. Hawks can see different colors.

Regarding hunting, unlike other birds who use their beaks, the hawk primarily depends on its talons to capture its prey. This is because hawks have shorter wings, so it is difficult to grab an animal with its beak alone.

Hawks are diurnal, which means that they hunt during the day. They mainly feed on animals such as frogs, snakes, rabbits, and even other small birds.

The average lifespan for a hawk is about 14 to 20 years, and they are very active for the first ten years of their life.

Hawk
 

What is Falcon?

The falcon is a majestic bird, well known for its fantastic speed in the air. They belong to the subfamily Falconinae, and all the species can be classified under the same genus.

For a long time, human beings have trained falcons so that they can use them for hunting. The smaller size of the falcon makes them easier to tame and nurture.

Falcons have a lot of distinct features that make them great hunters and hunting partners, also in terms of appearance. These features are –

  1. Falcons have sharp, hooked-like beaks with a notch.
  2. They have long and pointed wings.
  3. They have a black crown and wedge, allowing them to be easily distinguished from other birds of prey.

Falcons are smaller, but they use this much to their advantage. With the bonus of a long wingspan, the falcon is one of the fastest predators to roam the skies.

Their hunting techniques use their immense speed, allowing them to swoop down from the skies at 185 mph to capture their prey. They utilize their sharp beaks to grab the target animal.

A falcon can live up to 19 years, but their mortality rate has drastically lowered in the past few decades.

Falcon

Main Differences Between Hawk and Falcon

  1. Hawks belong to the Accipitrinae subfamily, while falcons belong to Falconidae and the subfamily Falconinae.
  2. In terms of size, hawks are more massive than falcons.
  3. Hawks use their prominent muscular legs and paws to hunt prey, while falcons use their sharp beaks to capture small animals.
  4. Due to the hawk’s massive size and shorter wingspan, they are slower than falcons, who possess large wings.
  5. Hawks have sharp talons, curved bills, and long tails. Falcons possess long and pointed wings and a sharp, hooked beak with a notch.
Difference Between Hawk and Falcon

References
  1. https://jeb.biologists.org/content/149/1/469.short
  2. https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1/7246/31762102068390.pdf?sequence=1

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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