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Hawk: Key Facts

Did you know there are over 200 species of hawk in the world? Read on to learn more about this and other hawk key facts, including how high and fast these impressive birds of prey can fly.

Quick Facts About Hawks

Scientific NameAccipiter
Number of SpeciesOver 200
Physical DescriptionMedium-sized bird of prey with short, broad wings and a wide, hooked beak. Color patterns vary by species but may include shades of brown, tan, gray, beige, white, and black.
DistributionEvery continent except Antarctica
HabitatCan live in a wide range of habitats including deserts, plains, marshes, and woodlands.
Average Size– Height: 7 inches to 27 inches
– Weight: 3 ounces to 5 pounds 
Average Lifespan10 to 20 years
DietOpportunistic carnivore; diet includes:
– Mammals
– Reptiles
– Birds
– Insects
Largest SpeciesNorthern goshawk
Smallest SpeciesSparrowhawk

What is a Hawk?

A hawk is a class of medium-sized birds of prey found throughout the world. There are many different species of both “true hawks,” in the accipiter genus, and birds in other genera also called hawks.

Hawks hunt small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects. They are known for stalking their prey from the air, sneaking up on it then dive-bombing to capture it.

Hawks have powerful talons for crushing and carrying prey, as well as sharp, curved beak for tearing it in pieces.

Hawks lay 3 to 6 eggs each year in the spring; both the male and female in a pair incubate and raise young. Hawk pairs are very protective of their nest site.

How High Can a Hawk Fly?

Hawks have powerful, broad wings made for soaring. They can fly at impressive heights and they have excellent eyesight for spotting prey on the ground or lower-flying birds.

Just how high they can fly is something of a mystery.

There are rumors that hawks have occasionally been seen flying as high as a plane, but it is unlikely they make a habit of doing this. According to the University of New Mexico, migrating hawks can fly higher than 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).

Non-migrating hawks typically fly much lower, as it requires a lot of energy to fly so high up. Hawk flight altitudes may also vary from species to species.

How Fast is a Hawk?

Hawks hunt by dive-bombing their prey. According to The Raptor Trust, they can fly up to 150 miles per hour when diving. 

Though hawks tend to fly more slowly when soaring or migrating, they are still fast, powerful flyers with the ability to accelerate suddenly when on the hunt. 

Conclusion

Hawks are birds of prey that live throughout the world, on every continent except Antarctica. They have broad wings that give them impressive flying skills, including the ability to dive bomb at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and soar at altitudes well over 3,000 feet.

If you are looking for more information about hawks, read this guide about their ability to carry things, or this guide about their strength.

Read also about other forest birds – here are our guides about hummingbird, owl, woodpecker.

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