Eagle Vs Hawk : (What Makes Them Differ Each Other)

The Eagles and hawks are two of the most confusing bird species due to their many similarities such as both are carnivores, diurnal, birds of prey, have talons, and strong beaks.

The Major Difference Between Eagle and Hawk is that you can notice and understand that the Eagles are larger than those of the Hawks, the sounds produced by the Eagle are different from that of the Hawks and color of the beak in both Eagle and Hawk vary.

What Makes Eagles And Hawks Different From Each Other?

The size, weight, wingspan, beak shape and color, speed, food, and much more  makes the eagles and hawks different from each other.

  • The size of eagles and hawks is different from each other due to changes in the following factors.
  • In size, the Eagles are larger than the hawks.
  • In wingspan length, the Eagles have a larger wingspan than the hawks.
  • The eagle wingspan is around 9 feet 4 inches(wedge-tailed eagle) while hawk wingspan is around 4 feet 8 inches(ferruginous hawk) in length. Eagles have a broader wingspan resulting in more surface area so they can fly and take advantage of the warm airlifts.
  • In weight, Eagles weigh more than hawks, due to the eagle’s size compared to hawks.
  • The average eagle can weigh around 18 pounds(8Kg) while the average hawk weight is around 8 pounds(3Kg).

Note: The largest eagle is the golden eagle, weighing approximately about 6 Kg. The largest hawk species is called the ferruginous hawk, which can weigh around 2Kg.

  • In strength, the eagles are stronger than the hawks due to their size.
  • The eagle’s muscular body, hooked beaks, and very strong legs armed with stronger long hind talons, So eagles are stronger than hawks. Whereas the hawks have curved beak and sharp talon. Among birds, Hawks are also powerful, however, when we compare the eagle and hawks, the eagles are more powerful than hawks. 
  • In grip, The hawks have a strong grip in contrast to the eagles.
  • In speed, The Bald eagles can dive at up to 100 mph, and Golden eagles can dive at up to 150 mph. Whereas, The red-tailed hawk dives at a speed of at least 120 mph.
  • The color of the beak in both eagle and hawk vary. The color of the beak is yellowish or light-colored in the eagle, while dark-colored beak in the hawk. The color of the feather in both eagle and hawk vary. The color of the feathers is golden, black, and grey blends of an eagle, while hawk feathers are grey, reddish-brown on the dorsal surface and white on the ventral surface. Hawk usually has a long tail for tight steering.
  • Hunting strategies are different in both eagle and hawks.
  • As eagles are larger compared to the hawks, it usually hunts the larger prey than the hawks.
  • While hunting the prey, The eagles detect the prey while actively flying in the air, Whereas hawks detect the prey while concealed(hidden) in trees and bushes.
  • Diets are different in both eagle and hawks. Even though Eagle and Hawks are both carnivores, they have differences in their diets 
  • The food or prey of the eagles are reptiles such as snakes, vertebrates like rabbits, and turtles, mammals such as small deers, muskrats, fishes, and birds like waterfowls. Golden eagles are found to be fed on deers. The food or prey of the Hawks are mice, gophers, rats, vertebrates like rabbits, squirrels,  and insects as well.
  • Cooper’s hawks usually hunt birds such as robins, and pigeons along with its normal prey like mice, gophers, rats, and rabbits.
  • The sounds produced by the eagle are different from that of the hawks, that is, eagles produce sounds that are screams whereas hawks produce high-pitched noises.
  • The number of eggs produced will vary in eagle and hawks.
  • Most eagles on average lay 2 eggs whereas hawks, on the other hand, produce or lay 2 to 6 eggs.
  • The nest height and size are different in both eagle and hawks. Most eagles prefer to build their nest at very height locations like in tall trees or cliffs. However, The nest built by hawks is maybe on the hills, trees, or even sometimes on the safer grounds.

The nests of eagles are usually larger than the hawks because of several reasons and adaptations like eagles are weight more than the hawks, the eagle can use nests for longer durations, eagles nests are bigger and solid due to the twigs and thorns deposition by the eagles.

Did you know, The older hatched chicks(eaglet) of eagle kill and eat the next hatching or hatched younger chicks, to reach its nutrition requirements and also to mature.

The older hatched chicks(eaglet) of eagle kill and eat the next hatching or hatched younger chicks, to reach its nutrition requirements and also to mature.

These elder eaglets eat younger, weaker sibling eaglets mostly in the case parents fail to feed them regularly, or feeding is delayed.

So to prevent the weaker eaglet from being killed by its stronger sibling parents(eagle) have to feed them before falling into starvation. However, The elder eaglet kills the younger eaglet so that it is only fed by its parents later on and it is known as siblicide.

  • Even though eagles and hawks belong to the same family and the same orders and also seem similar concerning their carnivores diet, diurnal activities, they are different from each other in morphology and hunting strategy.

There are around 60 types of eagle species, Whereas 250 types of hawk species exist.

Sl. no.ComparisonSame or differentEagle classification(Scientific classification)Hawk classification(Scientific classification)
1Same KingdomSame PhylumSame ClassSame OrderSame FamilyKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: AvesOrder: AccipitriformesFamily: AccipitridaeKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: AvesOrder: AccipitriformesFamily: Accipitridae
2Different species 60 different eagle species250 different hawk species
3Some examples of different species
Bald eagle.Golden eagle.White-bellied Sea-eagle Sanford’s Sea-eagleAfrican Fish-eagleMadagascar Fish-eaglePallas’s Fish-eagleWhite-tailed EagleSteller’s Sea-eagleFerruginous hawk.Cooper’s hawk.GoshawkHarris HawkRed-shouldered HawkRough-legged HawkSwainson’s HawkRed-tailed Hawk

Do Eagles attack Hawks? Yes, Eagles attack hawks that are smaller in size or younger in age and sometimes eagles can prey on hawk chicks or hawk eggs. However, eagles and hawks were found to attack each other in the time of competition for food food scarcity , to safeguard their chicks and nests, and to avoid territorial entries.

Read More : Eagle vs Falcon ?

Why Are Eagles So Special?

Eagles are less social and found to be either single or in pairs, as they enjoy high altitudes flight it is the main characteristic that makes eagles so special and also unique among other birds.

While Eagles are also special since their features like larger body, long wingspan, soar at higher altitudes that are difficult to reach by other birds, long duration of the flight in the air, and can carry heavy weighing prey while flying.

The Bald eagles are found to hunt and feed together while in flocks of 6 to 8 eagles, However, In nesting and breeding seasons they are found to aggressively defend their territories and food sources. Eagles are opportunistic hunters because instead of preying on fishes directly, they force other fishing-birds to drop their fishes in the air thus soar in the mid-air and catch it.

Which is Stronger ? Eagles are stronger than hawks because the eagle has a larger body with muscular muscles, strong legs armed with long talons, wide wingspan allowing them to soar at high altitudes, and also to hunt and carry heavy weighing prey like deers. Therefore, eagles are stronger hunters than hawks.

Which Bird Of Prey Has The Sharpest Eyesight?  Both eagle and hawk have keen eyesight, as compared to other bids eagle and hawks have the sharpest eyesight. In a fight between an eagle and a hawk, which would win? As eagles are stronger hunters than hawks. Eagles have more chances of winning because of their larger body and stronger leg and talons.

Which Is More Dangerous Between Eagle And Hawk?

Both eagles and hawks are dangerous, however, it depends on the situation, location, and threats. Among eagles and hawks, eagles are dangerous because of their larger body, powerful feet, and quickness strikes and flashes of talons. 

As an eagle can carry more weight while flying when compared to hawks, eagles are dangerous to human babies and also to pets. Usually, both don’t attack humans until they find or pretend to be predators or intruders to their territory and nests.

Hawks are dangerous to the squirrels because squirrels are the food(prey) for hawks. Eagles are dangerous to fish because fishes are the food(prey) for hawks.