What do Hawks eat? (Sparrowhawk Diet List) | Bird feeder specialist (2023)

While many hawks prey on other birds, this little raptor has a reputation for killing songbirds - just the kind of cute little warbler you might start out seeding.

While this is true, it hardly gives a fair representation of the sparrow or its diet. To clear things up, let's start with the question,what do sparrows eat?

hawks mainlyeat small birds, as its name suggests, rodents, small mammals and insects- or at least the males.

Female house sparrows outnumber their male counterparts, being 25% or larger in size. Consequently, they seek out bigger meals to support that extra weight.

What do Hawks eat? (Sparrowhawk Diet List) | Bird feeder specialist (1)

They don't decimate these bird populations anyway, as the flocks of sparrows and pigeons that swarm every errant piece of bread must demonstrate.

You might be surprised to learn that predation by sparrows is actually beneficial to their prey.

Little birds

The Hawk is a master of the hunt. He has developed numerous methods that allow him to capture and kill other birds. Sometimes he rises high and leans in for the kill, in a familiar way.

But more often it waits, perched in the cover of fences or leafy branches, and then shoots to surprise its prey.

What do Hawks eat? (Sparrowhawk Diet List) | Bird feeder specialist (2)

It can overcome obstacles better than any other hawk and can even run across the ground to avoid the shadow it says.

All this is necessary for the drop to fall on the sparrows. Songbirds are intelligent prey, giving subtle warnings the moment they see a hawk or the shadow of one.

Hawks aren't built for long chases, so they need the element of surprise to help them out.

They also need to choose the prey they are most likely to catch, which is why males and females have different hunting preferences.

(Video) Wild Bird Food : What Do Black Hawks Eat?

DON'T MISS: What do sparrows eat?

What do male hawks eat?

The male sparrow is smaller, which means it is faster, more agile and requires less meat to fill its belly.

Their targets typically weigh between 40-120g (1.4-4.2oz) and only need 40-50g a day to survive.

List of birds that a male hawk eats

  • sparrows
  • fins
  • breasts
  • banner
  • cross letters
  • Goldfinch
  • pica-paus
  • Robins
  • Mockingbirds
  • Puncture
  • larks

But even with all its tricks and tactics, the predator finds it difficult to catch such small and fast prey. Only 10% of his hunts end successfully.

Even so, it is not usually the healthiest specimens that fall prey to this hawk's clutches. Like many birds of prey, sparrows are most successful capturing weak, sick or injured birds.

Of course, this also means that they often capture newborns. During the summer months, up to 40% of their diet consists of young birds.

What do female hawks eat?

The difference in size between male and female sparrows is the largest of any bird. These brown-winged ladies are between 25-50% larger than their suitors.

All that extra weight gives females more energy to put into breeding. In flight, it greatly reduces your speed and agility.

Because of this, they tend to chase larger, slower targets. Their weight comes in handy here, giving them the power to handle heavy prey like:

  • pigeons
  • melros
  • cups of tea
  • partridges
  • pheasants
  • buttons
  • chicks
  • male hawks

Yes, you read that right, they will eat other sparrows. Once the breeding season is over, both parents go back to their solitary ways - and the male had better not linger.

Females of this species need to eat 50 to 70 grams of meat a day, so they are often driven by hunger to make riskier meals.

Rooks, for example, will defend one of their own, posing a real threat to a hawk trying to complete a kill.

Both the male and female eat carefully. They remove large feathers and even legs from their prey to minimize the amount of indigestible material they ingest.

What nutrients do hawks need?

The hawks' bird-rich diet gives them everything they need to survive and thrive.

(Video) How sparrowhawks catch garden birds - Life in the Air: Episode 2 Preview - BBC One

Meat is high in protein to facilitate muscle growth and strength, and healthy fats provide energy and promote feather health.

Organs are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitaminas B-2, B-6 e B-12
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Ferro
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Riboflavin
  • thiamine
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Hawks also benefit from more than a dozen amino acids found in bird meat. There's a reason this is your ideal prey.

Rodents and other small mammals

If the birds can meet the sparrow's nutritional needs, you might wonder why they would bother eating anything else.

The truth is, they probably wouldn't if they could safely grab their meal of choice.

But when birds are very elusive, other small mammals make a good substitute meal.

They come in sizes suitable for both male and female sparrows and are prone to the same hunting strategies.

Rodents also share the same habitats as passerines and land birds, being equally dependent on seeds and insects for food.

And they are abundant, making up the largest proportion of flightless mammals.

List of rodents and mammals that hawks eat

  • Rats
  • voles
  • brats
  • young rabbits
  • rabbits
  • squirrels
  • bats

Despite their ready availability, these animals make up only a small percentage of a sparrow's diet at any given time. This is by design.

The hawk carefully chooses its hunting grounds. He looks for places where birds congregate in high concentrations, paying attention to species that are noisy, colorful, or easier to spot and capture.

But in the end, the bird just has to eat. Females, due to their extra weight, can go longer without food, but no animal chooses to starve when an adequate meal is available.

Nutritional Value of Rodents and Mammals for Hawks

Mice, bats, rabbits, and other small mammals are considered adequate, though not ideal, meals. Its protein content is slightly lower than that of poultry and it contains more fat.

The fat content comes in handy as winter approaches. However, consuming more fat on a regular basis would do more harm than good, especially for hawks that rely on speed and agility to hunt.

(Video) Could you be feeding meat-eating birds?

In terms of vitamins and minerals, birds tend to have the highest vitamin density, with the exception of B-12. In contrast, other mammals contain more minerals.

The bottom line is that sparrows may be satisfied with the occasional squirrel or rabbit, but there are nutritional tradeoffs that explain why they don't prefer that type of prey.

Insects and other invertebrates

For sparrows, insects are usually a last resort meal. Some may eat them more often than others, but none of them show a preference for these small meals.

However, when collections are small, a few crickets, spiders or earthworms can provide the energy needed to continue the hunt for more substantial food.

List of insects and invertebrates that hawks eat

  • caterpillars
  • locusts
  • crickets
  • beetles
  • butterflies
  • spiders
  • worms
  • mealworms

A sparrow's extreme hunting skills are not required to catch this prey, which they can simply collect from branches or the ground. This makes insects the perfect meal for energy-hungry hawks.

Nutritional Value of Insects and Invertebrates for Sparogukas

The main nutrients obtained from invertebrates are proteins and fats. By weight, they provide protein in amounts that can exceed that of other animals.

For example, 100g of crickets provide 68g of protein, compared to 21.3g in the same amount of chicken. The little bug in this scenario also provides more calcium, potassium, iron and zinc.

Of course, the trouble of finding 100 grams of crickets, or any bug at all, can cost more energy than it's worth to a sparrow.

And for all their positive aspects, they are poor sources of vitamins A and C, niacin and thiamine.

What do Hawkeye chicks eat?

When sparrows hatch, they only want one thing: meat. In fact, the breeding season for these birds is timed so that the chicks hatch when the chicks of other birds are just testing their wings.

All these new flyers are perfect targets for the father sparrow, who needs to hunt for himself, his mate and 3-6 young. He needs every advantage he can get, considering the 10% success rate.

After 4 weeks, when the young begin to fly, the mother joins the hunt.

Together, the parents provide their offspring with a steady supply of ready-to-eat birds and rodents until they can hunt on their own.


Hawks are best suited to one particular prey, and yet they rarely succeed in capturing any but the weakest of the group.

(Video) Tips on how to help prevent hawk attacks.

Because of them, only the strongest little birds survive. This ensures that the next generation is born to healthy, strong parents and has the best chances of survival.

So while this bird of prey might just snack on your favorite songbird, try to remember that - it's probably for the best.

Frequently Asked Questions – Popular Polls on the Hawk’s Diet…

Do hawks eat squirrels?

Yes, hawks eat squirrels. However, squirrels generally would not be a sparrow's first choice of food source due to their size and athletic ability.

You would expect a female sparrow to hunt a squirrel rather than a male sparrow because females are much bigger and stronger.

Do Hawks Eat Pigeons?

Sparrows will eat pigeonsbut the female sparrow is much more likely to chase a pigeon for a meal than male sparrows.

As mentioned earlier, the female sparrow is much larger and can bring down a pigeon more easily, although both the male and female will certainly delight an injured or sick pigeon.

Do hawks eat hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs are at the same risk of being eaten by sparrows as are other land mammals such as mice, rats and voles.

A hedgehog's sharp back may provide limited protection against a hawk sparrow, but nothing prevents the sparrow from inflicting wounds on the hedgehog to weaken it.

Then,yes sparrows will and can eat hedgehogs, it can be a bit more of a meal challenge than a rodent or rodent, but this bird of prey won't turn down a meal of meat..

Do Hawks Eat Chickens?

An adult chick would be very frustrating for a male or female sparrow, but the answer to the question is:yes, sparrows eat chickens.

You would generally expect a sparrow to hunt a young chicken as it is much easier and smaller to target and would provide an easy meal.

Do Hawks Eat Cats?

The simple answer isno, sparrows don't eat cats. Your feline friend is safe unless he decides to threaten a sparrow's chicks, which is unlikely.

Cats are very big, strong and will really fight for a sparrow if accidentally shot.

These occurrences would be very rare and your cat is likely to disappear anyway.

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What does the sparrowhawk eat? ›

sparrowhawk, any of various small birds of prey usually of the genus Accipiter (family Accipitridae), classified with the goshawks as “accipiters,” or true hawks. They eat small birds such as sparrows, small mammals, and insects.

What is the Favourite food of sparrow hawk? ›

Choosing their prey

The most frequently caught birds are numerous and conspicuous, or are sick, old, weak or injured. The female takes prey up to wood pigeon size, but the smaller male does not catch anything bigger than the mistle thrush. In summer, about 40 per cent of a sparrowhawk's diet is fledglings.

What is hawks favorite food? ›

Their most common food is small mammals, such as mice, rats, rabbits, voles, and squirrels. But they don't stop there. Hawks also feast on snakes, lizards, frogs, insects, and many more.

Is a sparrowhawk a omnivore carnivore or herbivore? ›

Carnivore. Small birds, small mammals, and insects.

What scares a Sparrowhawk? ›

Half-full plastic bottles or CDs hung up in trees to scare the predators away. If feeders are under an overhang (eg under tree branches) hang strings like bead curtain strands a few inches apart around the perimeter of the overhang to slow down the hawk.

Do cats eat Sparrowhawks? ›

Hello, no worries re your cat, Sparrowhawks are nowhere near big or strong enough to pose any danger to a cat and wouldn't try anything, in fact a cat is much more of a danger to a Sparrowhawk!

Will a hawk eat from a bird feeder? ›

The Cooper's hawk and sharp-shinned hawk occasionally hunt birds at feeders. They are attracted to the feeder because of the concentration of food, but in this case, the food is the birds themselves.

How many birds can a hawk eat in a day? ›

Some hawks will eat as many as eight small creatures a day, while others will eat a larger animal once a day. Hawks use a lot of energy and need to eat 12-15% of their body weight per day. Young, developing birds need to eat more than adults.

What does a hawk eat in a day? ›

A Cooper's Hawk can eat an amount of food equivalent to 12% of its body weight in one day. This is similar to a 120-pound person eating 14 pounds of food – or about four or five large pizzas a day!

Can you feed a hawk raw chicken? ›

It is not acceptable, however, to deliberately feed hawks. Do not bait raptors with pet mice, raw meat, or other treats, however well-intentioned. If natural prey is available, the birds will find it.

Can a hawk pick up a 20 pound dog? ›

Pat Silovsky, director of the Milford Nature Center in Junction City, Kansas, explains that while there have been reports of hawks and owls attacking and carrying off very small dogs, the reason it is such an uncommon occurrence is that birds of prey cannot carry anything that weighs more than their own body weight.

Do hawks eat small dogs? ›

In fact, hawks can pick up small dogs and carry them away, just like other prey. Black-tailed rabbits, which are popular prey of red-tailed hawks, can weigh as much as 6 pounds, more than your average Chihuahua. So, it's totally possible for a hawk to pick up and carry off a small dog.

Do hawks eat snakes? ›

The answer is yes, hawks have been known to eat snakes that are up to four feet in length. While hawks typically prefer smaller prey, they will opportunistically take down a larger snake if the opportunity presents itself. Some species of hawk specialize in hunting and eating snakes.

Is A hawk A Scavenger or a predator? ›

This group includes the raptors (hawks, eagles, and falcons) that prey on other birds, small mammals, insects, reptiles and other animals that live in wetland environments. This group also includes the vultures that feed on carrion (dead animals).

Are hawks meat eaters? ›

Birds of prey such as hawks, falcons, eagles, osprey, vultures, and owls are familiar carnivorous birds. However, many types of birds also consume a fair amount of meat and could be classified as carnivores.

What noises are hawks afraid of? ›

Make Some Noise

Hawks don't like noise, but they sometimes get used to it, just like they do a decoy. Use various sources of noise and switch it up every few days. Wind chimes, radios and other sounds often discourage hawks. Combine noise with bright flashes of light for a greater effect.

What animal is a hawk afraid of? ›

Now you know that hawks do indeed have predators. They're most afraid of owls, eagles and even crows. Snakes and raccoons also pose a problem for any nesting hawks as they like to steal the eggs.

What time of day do hawks usually hunt? ›

Typically, hawks do not search for food at night, but they definitely hunt up until dusk, which is the time period right before it gets dark. During the day, hawks will fly high in the sky and look for prey below. At night, however, hawks will often perch on a branch or in a tree and listen for their prey.

Would a hawk eat a house cat? ›

Hawks are predators, and as such, they will eat any type of animal that they can catch. This includes small mammals, like cats, as well as birds and other types of animals.

Will a hawk pick up my cat? ›

In the United States a number of hawks and owls are large enough to attack a pet, though most are unlikely or simply unable to carry a dog or cat into the sky with a cartoonish flourish.

How do you stop Sparrowhawk attacks? ›

By moving feeding stations around your garden and keeping them close to cover, you can reduce the chance of a sparrowhawk attack. If you've got a particularly popular garden feeding station, you might receive a visit from a hunting sparrowhawk a few times per day.

How do birds know when a hawk is near? ›

Somehow songbirds recognize the danger of bird hawks immediately. Whether a bird sees the hawk itself or hears the universal “hawk” alarm call, they realize instantly that this bird is a threat. They were not taught, but they still know. They know from birth.

Do hawks eat their prey right away? ›

Typically, hawks kill their prey before eating it. This helps them to avoid getting hurt by the prey's thrashing limbs, and it also makes it easier to digest the food. However, there are some instances where hawks will eat their prey alive. If the prey is small enough, a hawk may swallow it whole.

Will a hawk eat a squirrel? ›

However, most hawks are opportunistic feeders and they feed on anything they can catch. Some of these small animals may include snakes, lizards, mice, rabbits, squirrels, and any other type of small game that is found on the ground.

Will a hawk take a full grown chicken? ›

These predators typically are able to kill, pick up, and carry off an adult chicken. Hawks typically take chickens during the day, whereas owls take them during the night.

How do hawks drink water? ›

How do they get water? Hawks get most of the water that they need from eating their prey, though hawks are sometimes observed drinking water.

Do hawks look for food at night? ›

Hawks might be fearsome, and some believe that hawks hunt at night. But, fortunately for nocturnal creatures, hawks are strictly diurnal; they don't hunt at night. The reason for this is that hawks are adapted for seeing in the daytime, and they can even see well in the lowlight hours of dawn and dusk.

What time do hawks sleep? ›

Do Hawks Sleep at Night? Since hawks are diurnal birds rather than nocturnal, they must rest at night to restore their energy for the following day's hunt. Typically, you will find these birds resting in trees or cliffside nests at night.

What eats a hawk in a food chain? ›

Think You Can? Hawks get attacked and can be eaten by hawks that are larger, eagles, owls, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. Their position on the food chain keeps them out of reach for most predators. However, hawk eggs and younger hawks who haven't developed full strength can still be gobbled up.

What does it mean when a hawk keeps visiting? ›

A hawk coming to you will likely mean that you need to receive a message and prepare for big changes in your future. This future might bring good fortune or bring upheaval, or both. In most cultures, hawks have a positive association and are considered good luck.

Can hawk eat cooked meat? ›

Some general guidelines: No frozen or hot food - all food should be defrosted, and ideally warm to the touch. Avoid "processed" food (ground beef, etc) No cooked foods.

Can birds eat cheese? ›

Cheese: Stale, hard bits of cheese will readily be eaten by birds. Mild flavors such as American or mild cheddar are most suitable, but soft cheeses such as cream cheese are not. No moldy or rancid cheese should be offered to birds at any time.

Can a small dog fight off a hawk? ›

Most dogs (and cats) are large enough to be safe from hawks and owls. Even very small dogs may be too heavy for a hawk or owl to carry, although it's still possible that large raptors might attack them.

How big of a dog will a hawk go after? ›


Do hawks go after dogs? ›

Hawks and their cousins are opportunistic animals, so dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, ferrets, guinea pigs, ducks, rabbits, and chickens are all at stake. Fiercely protective of their nests, these formidable birds are also known to attack larger animals, and even humans on occasion.

Can an owl pick up a 10 lb dog? ›

Due to its size and strength, the great horned owl is the only owl species that would be able to pick up a small dog consistently. Great horned owls can carry as much as 9 pounds, which means they could snatch a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire Terrier. You'll find several examples of owl attacks on dogs in the news.

Do hawks eat Chihuahuas? ›

Do Hawks Eat Small Dogs? Short answer: No. Though they look formidable, that bird on my fist weighs about two pounds.

Can a hawk pick up a 12 pound dog? ›

The biggest North American hawk you're likely to see in your backyard is the red-tailed hawk. A red-tailed hawk weighs, at most, 3 pounds. A miniature poodle weighs in around 12 to 15 pounds. Even carrying a smallish Chihuaha would require a significant feat of strength.

Do hawks eat raccoons? ›

Hawks are scavengers, which means that they will eat just about anything they can get their talons on, including dead raccoons. Hawks are one of the main predators of raccoons.

Do hawks eat the whole rat? ›

Hawks typically hunt during the day, using their keen vision to spot potential prey from high above. Once they have spotted their target, they will swoop down and use their talons to kill it. The hawk will then consume the rat, feathers, and all. While eating rats is not ideal for hawks, it is necessary to survive.

Do hawks eat rabbits? ›

Over long fields or along the edge of highways, Red-tailed Hawks eat mostly small mammals such as rabbits, voles, and mice, with the occasional bird thrown in.

Do hawks recognize humans? ›

The birds may not form deep, lasting friendships with us as handlers, but we do have relationships. The birds feel a certain comfort with us the more they see us and recognize us.

Will hawks eat dead mice? ›

Hawks typically eat small mammals and birds, but they will also eat reptiles, fish, and invertebrates. Many people assume that hawks only hunt live prey, but they will also scavenge dead animals. Scavenging is an important part of a hawk's diet, particularly during the winter months when food is scarce.

Are hawks intelligent? ›

Intelligence. In February 2005, Canadian ornithologist Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian "IQ" by measuring their innovation in feeding habits. Based on this scale, hawks were named among the most intelligent birds. The hawk is very intelligent towards humans and other hawks.

Do hawks eat fish? ›

Do hawks eat fish? While hawks are opportunistic feeders, who will eat anything they can catch, fish doesn't make up the bulk of their diet. However, some hawks do eat (and maybe even prefer) fish. Ospreys, for example, are especially adept at hunting fish.

What animals do hawks like to eat? ›

But, besides birds, hawks able to grab the following food sources:
  • Rodents.
  • Insects.
  • Rabbits.
  • Voles.
  • Squirrels.
  • Snakes.
  • Lizards.
  • Frogs.
Aug 30, 2022

Do hawks eat mice? ›

Birds – Birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and owls see mice as standard fare to be sought after and snared. The heron, crow and blue jay are non-raptor birds that will also eat rodents when they find them.

What is the fastest bird of prey? ›

As swift as a speeding arrow and more rapid than a cheetah, the peregrine falcon is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, with a diving speed of more than 200 miles per hour.

What is the significance of a sparrowhawk? ›

The sparrowhawk is sometimes symbolically linked with the inner spirit of the warrior. They're a small yet fierce bird of prey, with unexpected inner strength and as such they remind us that we're stronger than we realise.

How do you catch a sparrowhawk? ›

Use the Sparrowhawk Net to capture a Wild Sparrowhawk and bring it to Watcher Elaira on the Twilight Ridge.

Do Sparrowhawks eat feathers? ›

They have even been known to take birds from their feeding stations in gardens! It's also worth listening out for the alarm calls of the sparrowhawk's prey – they will call to alert other birds of its presence in the area. Piles of plucked feathers are also a sure sign of a recent sparrowhawk meal.

What is the number 1 bird of prey? ›

#1 California Condor

It can weigh as much as 23 pounds and have a nine-and-a-half-foot wingspan. Its head and neck are naked except for some black feathers on the forehead and the ring of black feathers around the neck.

What bird of prey 200 miles per hour? ›

Peregrine falcons are well known for their incredible aerial skills. They are powerful fliers and can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when diving.

What is the most feared bird of prey? ›

#1 Great Horned Owl

This is one of the most dangerous birds because of its talons, curved sharp beak, and its aggressive way of hunting.

What is a fun fact about Sparrowhawks? ›

A male sparrowhawk can survive for two or three days without food, but the larger female can last for up to six days. While a male sparrowhawk does well to live to seven or eight, the female may survive until she is ten or 11. Sparrowhawks gained full protection in Britain in 1961.

What are hawks looking for? ›

Hawks are birds of prey that hunt smaller birds, rodents like mice and squirrels, small reptiles like snakes and lizards, and insects. Look up and along roadsides when walking or even riding past to see if you can spot a hawk out looking for prey.

Where are Sparrowhawks located? ›

It is found in every district from Louisiana to Maine, as well as from the Atlantic shores to the western regions.

Does a Sparrowhawk hover? ›

Unlike the Kestrel, the Sparrowhawk does not hover but prefers instead to use the available cover as it comes dashing through the garden after small birds. Sparrowhawks feed on other birds.

Is it OK to pick up a hawk feather? ›

The possession of feathers and other parts of native North American birds without a permit is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

Will a hawk grab a chicken? ›

These predators typically are able to kill, pick up, and carry off an adult chicken. Hawks typically take chickens during the day, whereas owls take them during the night.

Is it safe to touch hawk feathers? ›

While touching feathers is okay, some feathers are federally protected under The Migratory Treaty Act of 1918. The treaty protects migratory birds and prohibits taking, capturing, selling and transporting any protected bird species without prior authorization, according to the act.


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