If you’ve ever seen a falcon or a hawk, you were probably impressed by the sight of their powerful talons and broad wingspans. Both hawks and falcons are birds of prey, similar in appearance to small eagles. So what would happen if they were to fight each other? In a competition of falcon vs. hawk, who would win? Read on to find out more!
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Hawk?
A hawk is a bird of prey. The group of birds belonging to the Accipiter genus are known as “true hawks,” but there are many other species in separate genera which are also sometimes referred to as hawks.
All hawks are generally large and powerful. Most hawks have a body length of 12 to 22 inches, rounded wings that are relatively short and broad, and tails that are fairly long.
According to Britannica, hawks most commonly eat insects, reptiles, and small mammals, but they will occasionally prey on poultry as well. They have many different hunting techniques, but they typically hunt by following prey as it attempts to escape, then grabbing it when it’s worn out from the chase.
Hawks have strong, powerful talons which they use to crush their prey to death. They then use their short, sharp, curved beaks to tear their prey into bite-sized pieces.
What is a Falcon?
The term “falcon,” like “hawk,” can apply to a variety of different birds. True falcons belong to the genus Falco, but there are other birds belonging to other genera which also bear the falcon name.
The falcon’s body length ranges from about 6 to 24 inches depending on species, but most falcons are on the smaller side. Their wingspan is wide and powerful relative to their size, their tails are long, and beaks are notched to help them tear apart their food.
Falcons, like hawks, are birds of prey. They hunt a variety of prey, including other birds, rodents, reptiles, and insects.
Falcons tend to hover in midair while scanning an area for prey, then dive suddenly at prey after spotting it. They use their talons to catch their next meal, but their beaks do most of the work when it comes to killing and tearing up the meat.
What is the Difference Between a Hawk and a Falcon?
As you can tell from the sections above, hawks and falcons have many similarities. Both are birds of prey, they are similar in size, and there are many species of each type of bird.
So, are hawks and falcons the same? What are the characteristics that set them apart?
- Species: As noted above, true hawks belong to the Accipiter genus, while true falcons belong to the Falco genus.
- Wingspan: Hawks have a wide wingspan, but their wings are noticeably broader than those belonging to falcons. On the other hand, a falcon’s wings are especially long and narrow, perfect for flying fast.
- Beak shape: Hawks have broad, short beaks similar to the beaks of eagles. Falcon’s beaks are smaller, but longer and with a distinctive curve at the end which helps them tear their prey apart.
- Eggs: Hawks may lay three to six eggs at a time, while falcons are fairly consistent with laying four or five at a time. The eggs of both birds are speckled, but hawks typically lay brown-spotted eggs while falcons lay more red-spotted eggs.
- Hunting technique: Both hawks and falcons have various hunting techniques, but hawks tend to rely more on their talons while falcons tend to rely more on their beaks. Hawks usually hunt prey by chasing it, while falcons usually hunt by “dive bombing” their prey.
Hawk or Falcon: Which is More Powerful?
In a sheer competition of strength and power, would hawks or falcons come out on top? What about in a contest of speed and maneuverability?
As you might imagine, each bird has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Generally speaking, if they were to fight each other, they would be pretty evenly matched.
Falcons are generally smaller and faster than hawks, but hawks are typically stronger and more powerful than falcons.
So, in a contest of speed–if a falcon were attempting to chase or escape a hawk–the falcon would probably win. The falcon would likely be able to outfly the hawk or attack before the hawk could react.
But in a head to head fight–if the two birds were to lock talons and battle it out based on sheer strength and power–then the hawk would probably win.
Check out this video to learn more about how hawks and falcons rate when compared against each other.
Both falcons and hawks are birds of prey, and they are fairly similar in size. They would be evenly matched in a fight, though the falcon may have the edge in a competition of speed while the hawk would have the edge in a competition of strength.