Difference Between Hawk and Falcon

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

Hawk vs Falcon

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

Hawk VS Falcon

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

Falcons belong to the falconinae subfamily, and all the members belong to the same genus. One can generally identify them by their sharply pointed tip wings and their angular shaped beaks.


Comparison Table Between Hawk and Falcon (in Tabular Form)

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 subfamily Falconinae. All the species come under the same genus, unlike hawks which have many genera.
SizeIn comparison to their body size, hawks are more massive than falcons, even with their short wingspan.Falcons are smaller in size compared to hawks, but they have large pointed wings to assist them in flying fast.
CharacteristicsHawks have sharp talons, muscular legs, a sharply curved bill, and long tails. They have a short wingspan.Falcons have long and pointed wings, excellent eyesight (twice as good as humans), and a sharp beak.
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 when they are hunting.Falcons use their exceptional 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 that allow them 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 around the world, they can be classified under several genera.

The hawks have many distinct features that not only separate them from birds such as eagles and falcons but also give them an added advantage in terms of 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 colours.

In terms of hunting, unlike other birds who use their beaks, the hawk primarily depends on its talons to capture its prey. The reason for this is that 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 mostly 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.


What is Falcon?

The falcon is a majestic bird, very 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. Due to the smaller size of the falcon, it makes them easier to tame and nurture.

Falcons have a lot of distinct features that make them great hunters and hunting partners, and 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 in size, 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 make use of their immense speed, and allow them to swoop down from the skies at 185 mph to capture their prey. They utilise their sharp beaks to grab the target animal.

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


Main Differences Between Hawk and Falcon

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



Among the many birds of prey, hawks and falcons are considered one of the most magnificent predators to roam the skies. Hawks possess sharp talons that allow them to capture animals and small birds. Falcons depend on their immense speed while hunting, and use their beaks as a weapon against prey.

Falcons are considered the fastest predators in the sky, and with their large wings, swoop down to attack their prey. Hawks, on the other hand, use their larger size to overpower other animals. Both these animals are considered to be great hunters and vicious predators.


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