Hawk VS Eagle: A Complete Guide To The Differences Between Hawks and Eagles

Hawks VS Eagle: Which one wins?

In this guide, we will explore these differences in detail and help you tell these majestic birds apart.

This guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of hawks vs eagles.

Table of Contents

What’s the difference between Eagle Vs Hawk?

Hawks and eagles are both birds of prey that are often confused due to their similar appearance.

However, there are some distinct differences between the two species:

  • Eagles are generally larger with broad, flat wings and a straight, powerful beak.
  • Hawks, on the other hand, are smaller with rounded wings and a shorter, curved beak.
  • Eagles typically hunt larger prey such as fish and mammals
  • Hawks hunt smaller prey such as birds and rodents.

This table breaks down the key differences:

Attribute Hawks Eagles
Size Smaller, about 1-4 lbs Larger, range from 4-15 lbs
Wing Shape Broad and rounded Broad and flat
Beak Short and curved Long and straight
Talons Narrow and pointed Wide and powerful
Flight Agile and acrobatic Strong and soaring
Habitat Diverse, found worldwide Prefer open areas and coastal regions
Diet Small prey, such as birds and rodents Larger prey, such as fish and mammals

Read on to learn more…

Wingspan: Eagle vs. Hawk

When comparing the wingspans of eagles and hawks, there is a noticeable size difference.

Eagles typically have wingspans ranging from 6 to 8 feet in length, while hawks tend to have much smaller wingspans that range from 2 to 4 feet.

This size difference not only affects the way they are able to maneuver during flight, but also the speed and maneuverability of each bird.

Eagles typically have a much larger wingspan than hawks, which gives them the ability to soar and glide on thermals for extended periods of time.

Wingspan: Eagle vs. Hawk

Flight Distances: Hawk VS Eagle

This allows them fly longer distances at a much faster rate than hawks, who rely more heavily on their flapping flight technique:

  • The increased wingspan also allows eagles to generate more lift, allowing them to climb higher into the sky and soar for longer periods of time.
  • The wingspan of hawks is much smaller than that of eagles, which makes them more maneuverable and agile during flight.
  • This allows them to take sharp turns and sudden changes in direction with greater ease than eagles.
  • The smaller wingspan also gives them the ability to fly at much faster speeds than eagles, allowing them to quickly accelerate and reach their maximum speed in just a few seconds.

Sounds: Hawk VS Eagle

The sounds of nature can be both calming and unsettling.

From the trill of a cardinal to the bull-frogs croaking at dusk, the natural world is full of unique and beautiful songs.

But few rival the regal cries of raptors like eagles and hawks.

These two birds are often confused for one another, but their calls are distinct and unmistakable.

Piercing Call: Hawk VS Eagle

Eagles have a loud, piercing call that can be heard from miles away.

It is often described as a shrill whistle or a high-pitched scream.

The sound is made up of several notes and usually lasts for about two seconds.


Eagles use their calls to communicate with each other, declare territory, locate mates, scare away predators, and more.

Hawks’ calls are slightly more subdued than those of eagles but still powerful in their own right.

They have a deeper tone and often consist of two or three notes repeated rapidly.

Hawks use their cries to mark territory, share distress signals, attract mates, and establish dominance over other birds.

Behavior: Hawk VS Eagle

When observing a bird of prey, people often struggle to identify whether it is an eagle or a hawk.

Though they may look similar, these two species have very distinct behaviors that can be used to tell them apart.

Behavior: Eagle vs. Hawk

Hawks tend to fly in more erratic patterns than eagles, making quick and abrupt turns as they soar through the sky.

They also have a more shallow wing beat, making them appear smaller and faster than eagles.

This type of behavior is typical of hawks as they hunt for smaller prey such as rodents or other birds.


Eagles typically fly in wide circles at higher altitudes, with slower but deeper wing beats that make them appear larger and slower than hawks.

This type of behavior is typical of eagles as they wait for larger prey such as fish, rabbits, or snakes.

Size & Appearance: Eagle vs. Hawk

When looking at a bird of prey, size and appearance can also help identify whether it is an eagle or a hawk.

Eagles tend to be larger than hawks with longer wings and tails.

They are typically colored in brown and white feathers with yellow talons, while hawks have black or brown feathers with orange or yellow talons.

Eagles‘ wingspan is longer than that of a hawk, usually measuring up to 7 feet in length compared to the hawk’s 4-5 foot wingspan.

Nesting Habits: Eagle vs. Hawk

When it comes to nesting habits, eagle and hawk species differ greatly.

Eagles typically construct large nests made of sticks and lined with grasses, usually in the upper reaches of trees.

These nests can be up to 6 feet wide and sometimes weigh as much as 500 pounds!

Nesting Habits: Eagle vs. Hawk

They are likely to use the same nest for years at a time, adding more material to it each season.

Hawks, on the other hand, build smaller nests out of twigs and grasses, usually near the top of a tree or cliff.

Hawks Castles

These nests are typically only a few feet wide and can often be seen in groups known as “hawks’ castles”.

They also tend to use their nests only once, moving on to a new location after the nesting season is over.

Clutch Size: Hawk VS Eagle

Eagles typically lay two eggs per clutch, while hawks may lay anywhere from one to six eggs.

The eggs of an eagle are slightly larger than those of a hawk, with an average size of 2.5 inches in length and 1.75 inches in width.

Eagles incubate their eggs for about 28 to 35 days before the chicks hatch, while hawks can incubate for anywhere from 21 to 33 days.


When it comes to parenting duties, both eagles and hawks share in many of the same responsibilities.

Both male and female eagle parents will take turns sitting on their nests to protect the eggs and later feed their chicks.

Hawks also share in these responsibilities, with both parents helping to incubate the eggs and care for the young.

Raising Chicks

Once the chicks have hatched, eagle parents will continue to feed them for up to three months before they are ready to leave the nest.

On the other hand, hawk chicks can normally fly just two weeks after hatching, so their parents do not need to feed them for as long.

While both build nests and care for their young, eagles tend to construct larger nests that they can use repeatedly each season, while hawks prefer smaller, short-term nests.

In addition, eagles typically lay two eggs per clutch and require more time to incubate their eggs before the chicks hatch, while hawks may lay anywhere from one to six eggs and have shorter incubation periods.


Finally, eagle parents feed their chicks for much longer than hawk parents do once they have hatched.

All in all, both eagle and hawk species have unique nesting habits that make them fascinating to observe.

Diet: Eagle vs. Hawk

When you compare the diets of eagles and hawks, you’ll find that there are some similarities but also some stark differences.

Beaks And Talons

Both birds of prey have powerful beaks and talons that allow them to capture their prey – usually small animals such as mammals, reptiles, fish or even other birds.

Eagles tend to have a more diverse diet than hawks, and are often referred to as “opportunistic” hunters.


Eagles hunt larger animals such as rabbits or even deer, but they will also take advantage of whatever food sources they can find nearby.

Eagles have been known to scavenge carrion, which is the dead flesh of other animals.

They will also eat aquatic creatures such as fish, crabs and other crustaceans.

Hawks on the other hand are typically smaller in size and have a more limited diet than eagles.

While they may occasionally hunt larger animals, their primary source of food tends to be small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews and squirrels.

They will also take advantage of carrion when available, and their diet can also include insects, reptiles and other birds.

Speed: Eagle vs. Hawk

Speed: Eagle vs. Hawk

When it comes to speed, some birds of prey are a cut above the rest.

Eagles and hawks both belong to the same taxonomic family, but they certainly differ when it comes to how fast they can fly.


The fastest species of eagle is commonly believed to be the bald eagle which has been clocked at speeds of up to 100 mph.

This is a remarkable feat considering the bird’s relatively large size and heavy weight—they can reach up to 14 pounds in some cases!

But this impressive speed comes with a price; bald eagles typically have shorter flight distances before needing to rest or feed on prey.

Hawks, meanwhile, are somewhat smaller than eagles and therefore able to fly at higher speeds.

The fastest hawks reach speeds of up to 200 mph, making them the fastest birds in the world!

It is believed that this impressive speed is due to their smaller size, allowing them to maneuver more quickly and expend less energy than larger birds like eagles.


In addition to their speed, hawks have another advantage over eagle: their wingspan.

While bald eagles have an impressive wing span of up to 8 feet, some hawks’ wingspans can reach up to 12 feet or more!

This extended wing surface area creates more lift and propels the hawk further and faster than its larger counterpart.

When it comes to speed, the eagle vs. hawk debate is clear; hawks are far and away faster than eagles.

But it’s worth noting that both birds of prey have impressive abilities in their own right:

The bald eagle’s strength, size, and flight distance make it no slouch by any means.

Hunting strategies: Eagle vs. Hawk

When it comes to hunting strategies, eagles and hawks have very different approaches.

Eagles tend to soar high in the sky above a field or body of water, searching for prey with their powerful eyesight from great heights.

They swoop down on unsuspecting targets, using their immense strength to catch their meal.

Hawks, on the other hand, have a much more patient approach.

They sit quietly on a high perch, usually a branch or fence post, and watch the ground below them for any movement of potential meals.

When they spot something, they swoop down quickly and silently to capture their prey.


The eagle is well-known as one of the most powerful predators in its natural setting, and it is the only bird of prey that can fly at supersonic speeds.


Eagles have incredibly keen eyesight, allowing them to spot their prey from hundreds of yards away.


Their powerful talons and wings allow them to swoop down quickly and grasp onto their food with a great force.

The hawk, on the other hand, is not as well-known for its strength and power as the eagle, but it is equally capable of taking down prey.

While they may take a bit more time to spot their meals, hawks can be just as accurate in their attacks.

Their sharp eyes allow them to survey a wide area from high above the ground, and then swoop down quickly when they see something of interest.


In terms of agility, hawks have the advantage over eagles. Hawks can maneuver more quickly and efficiently than eagles, allowing them to change direction quickly and swoop down on their target with stealth-like precision.

Eagles, while powerful, are not as agile in comparison.

What bird could defeat an Eagle?

The Bald Eagle is a powerful predator, capable of taking down large animals such as deer and even other birds.

However, there is one bird that could give the Eagle a run for its money: the Harpy Eagle.

What bird could defeat an Eagle?

The Harpy Eagle is a giant bird of prey found in the rainforests of Central and South America.

It has a wingspan of up to 7 feet, and its talons are as long as a grizzly bear’s claws.

The Eagle might have the edge in speed and agility, but the Harpy Eagle would be more than a match for it in size and strength.

In a fight between these two birds of prey, it would be hard to predict who would come out on top.

Eagle vs.hawk fight

Eagle vs. hawk fight – an age-old question that sparks the imagination of bird lovers and curious minds alike. In this epic battle of the skies, which raptor would come out on top? Let’s dive into the world of these two incredible birds to find out who would win and why.

Know Your Combatants: A Brief Overview

Before we can declare a victor in the eagle vs. hawk fight, it’s essential to understand the differences between these two fierce raptors.

Eagles: Powerful and Majestic

Eagles are known for their strength, size, and hunting prowess. With sharp beaks, large talons, and wingspans that can reach over 8 feet, eagles are undoubtedly formidable opponents. They can take down prey larger than themselves, and their keen eyesight allows them to spot targets from great distances.

Hawks: Agile and Swift

Hawks, on the other hand, are smaller and more agile than eagles. Their wingspans are generally shorter, ranging from 3 to 5 feet. Hawks are fast, with some species capable of reaching speeds of up to 150 mph during a dive. While they may not possess the same raw power as eagles, hawks are stealthy hunters that excel in maneuverability.

Analyzing the Eagle vs. Hawk Fight: Factors to Consider

To determine the winner of the eagle vs. hawk fight, we need to analyze various factors that can influence the outcome of such a confrontation. These factors include:

  1. Size and Strength
  2. Speed and Agility
  3. Hunting Strategies
  4. Natural Instincts

Size and Strength

Raptor Wingspan (feet) Weight (pounds)
Eagle 5 – 8+ 6.5 – 20
Hawk 3 – 5 0.5 – 4

As the table above illustrates, eagles have a clear advantage when it comes to size and strength. With larger wingspans and significantly heavier bodies, eagles are more powerful than hawks. This disparity in size could play a significant role in determining the winner of the eagle vs. hawk fight.

Speed and Agility

While eagles are powerful, hawks have the advantage when it comes to speed and agility. Hawks are known for their incredible maneuverability and ability to change direction quickly, making them elusive targets. In a head-to-head battle, a hawk’s agility could potentially help it evade an eagle’s powerful strikes.

Hunting Strategies

Eagles and hawks have different hunting strategies, which could impact the outcome of a confrontation between the two. Eagles rely on their size and power to subdue their prey, often striking from great heights and using their strong talons to secure their catch.

Hawks, conversely, use their agility and speed to surprise and outmaneuver their prey. A hawk may be able to use its quick reflexes to dodge an eagle’s attacks, but would it be able to land a decisive blow?

Natural Instincts

Lastly, it’s important to remember that both eagles and hawks are predators by nature. They are not naturally inclined to fight each other, as their primary focus is on hunting prey. Should a confrontation occur, it would likely be a territorial dispute or competition for food resources.

The Verdict: Who Would Win the Eagle vs. Hawk Fight?

Taking into account the factors discussed above, it’s reasonable to conclude that the eagle has the upper hand in a confrontation with a hawk.

The eagle’s superior size, strength, and powerful talons give it a significant advantage over its smaller counterpart. While the hawk’s agility and speed may help it evade some of the eagle’s attacks, it would likely struggle to inflict serious damage on the larger, more powerful eagle.

However, it’s crucial to remember that the outcome of an eagle vs. hawk fight would depend on the specific species involved and the unique circumstances of the encounter.

There are numerous species of both eagles and hawks, each with its distinct characteristics and abilities.

It’s also worth noting that eagles and hawks would generally avoid fighting each other in the wild.

As natural predators, their primary focus is on hunting prey, and engaging in a battle with another raptor poses a risk of injury that could hinder their ability to hunt and survive.

Can you tell if a hawk is a juvenile?

There are several ways to tell if a hawk is a juvenile. One way is to look at the plumage. Juvenile hawks typically have mottled brown feathers, while adult hawks are usually solid-colored.

Another way to tell the age of a hawk is by looking at its leg bands. If the hawk has a band on its left leg, it was likely born in captivity and released into the wild as part of a conservation program.


Finally, you can also tell a hawk’s age by its behavior. Juvenile hawks are more likely to be seen chasing other birds or flying in large flocks.

They are also less likely to stay in one place for long periods of time. By contrast, adult hawks are more likely to hunt alone and perch in trees for hours at a time. So, if you’re wondering whether that bird you saw was a juvenile or an adult, there are several ways to find out.

Do Eagles eat Hawks?

Do Eagles eat Hawks?

Eagles are one of the most famous and revered birds in the world.

Often seen as a symbol of strength and power, these large predators are known for their impressive hunting skills.

But what do eagles actually eat?

While the diet of an eagle can vary depending on the species and location, they typically hunt for smaller birds, fish, and mammals.

Hawks are a type of bird that falls into this category.


Although eagles will occasionally eat carrion (dead animals), they typically prefer to hunt live prey.

So, while it is certainly possible that an eagle could eat a hawk, it is not a common occurrence.

In general, eagles tend to avoid confrontation with other large birds of prey.

Therefore, it is more likely that an eagle would view a hawk as competition rather than dinner.

Is Golden Eagle a Hawk?

The golden eagle is a raptor, or bird of prey, that is found in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Although it shares some characteristics with hawks, such as its sharp talons and beak, it is actually more closely related to the bald eagle.

Golden eagles are larger than hawks, with a wingspan that can reach up to 7 feet.


  • Golden Eagles are also more heavily built, with strong legs and shoulders that enable them to carry large prey.
  • Their plumage is brown with golden highlights on the back and wings.
  • Adult golden eagles typically weigh between 10 and 20 pounds.
  • Golden eagles typically live in mountainous areas where they can build their nests on high cliffs.
  • They hunt for small mammals, such as squirrels and rabbits, as well as birds.

In North America, the golden eagle is the national bird of Mexico and the provincial bird of Alberta, Canada.

How can you tell a juvenile eagle?

There are several ways to tell a juvenile eagle. One is by its plumage.

While an adult eagle has a mostly dark brown body with a white head and tail, a juvenile eagle is much lighter in color, with a mottled brown and white plumage.

Juvenile eagles also have shorter wings and tails than adults.

How can you tell a juvenile eagle?

Another way to tell a juvenile eagle is by its behavior.

Juveniles are often more vocal than adults, and they may beg for food from their parents or other adults.

They are also less skilled at hunting, and they may engage in play behaviors such as chasing each other or wrestling.

Finally, juvenile eagles are usually smaller than adults, with shorter beaks and legs.

By contrast, adult eagles tend to be larger, with longer beaks and legs.

Is an Eagle considered a Hawk?

Hawks are a type of bird of prey, and eagles are a subset of hawks.

All hawks share certain characteristics, such as sharp talons and beaks for hunting, good eyesight, and strong wings.

There are many different types of hawks, including Harris’s hawk, the red-tailed hawk, and Cooper’s hawk.


Eagles, on the other hand, are distinguished from other hawks by their size:

They are usually much larger than other types of hawks.

Eagles also tend to have broader wings and more powerful talons.

So while all eagles are considered hawks, not all hawks are eagles.

What Are Raptors?

Raptors, or birds of prey, are a group of diurnal birds that have unique adaptations that allow them to hunt and feed on other animals.

Raptors can be found in almost every part of the world and include species like eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls.

These birds have strong eyesight for spotting their prey from a distance, sharp talons for capturing and killing prey, and powerfully curved beaks for tearing their prey apart.

Raptors have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and are now considered an important part of our ecosystem.

Is a Hawk Stronger than an Eagle?

Generally speaking, eagles are larger and stronger than hawks.

They are built for power with larger beaks, talons, and wingspans compared to hawks.

This doesn’t mean hawks are weak; they are powerful in their own right, but their strengths lie in other areas.

Differences Between an Eagle and a Hawk

There are several differences between eagles and hawks that go beyond size and strength:

  1. Size: As mentioned, eagles are typically larger. For instance, the Bald Eagle can have a wingspan up to 7.5 feet and weigh up to 14 pounds, while a Red-Tailed Hawk’s wingspan is up to 4.5 feet and weighs up to 3.5 pounds.

  2. Hunting Techniques: Eagles, especially sea eagles, prefer to hunt over water and open spaces, often swooping down to grab fish. Hawks, on the other hand, tend to hunt over open fields or forests, preferring rodents, rabbits, and other small mammals.

  3. Appearance: Eagles generally have a more robust and powerful build, with larger beaks and talons in comparison to their overall size. Hawks tend to have a more slender and sleek appearance.

  4. Flight Patterns: Hawks often use thermals to gain altitude and can be seen circling in the sky. Eagles, especially when hunting, use a more direct, soaring flight pattern.

Can an Eagle Defeat a Hawk?

In a confrontation, due to their larger size and greater strength, eagles would typically have the advantage over hawks. However, it’s important to note that these types of encounters are rare, as each bird of prey has its own niche and territory.

Exceptions can occur, such as territorial disputes or protection of nests. In such cases, even smaller birds, like hawks or crows, have been known to mob larger birds, like eagles, to drive them away.

FAQs About Hawk VS Eagle

Here are some frequently asked questions about hawks and eagles, along with their respective answers.

Who is stronger, hawk or eagle?

Eagles are generally stronger than hawks due to their larger size and more powerful build. Eagles are capable of taking down larger prey and have stronger talons and a more powerful beak than hawks.

What is the difference between hawk and eagle?

Hawks and eagles are both birds of prey, but they have distinct differences in their physical traits, hunting techniques, and behavior. Eagles are generally larger with broad, flat wings and a straight, powerful beak, while hawks are smaller with rounded wings and a shorter, curved beak. Eagles typically hunt larger prey such as fish and mammals, while hawks hunt smaller prey such as birds and rodents.

Can eagle defeat hawk?

It is possible for an eagle to defeat a hawk in a fight, but it depends on several factors, such as the size and strength of the birds, the location and circumstances of the fight, and the hunting experience of each bird.

Who is stronger, eagle or falcon?

Eagles and falcons are both powerful birds of prey, but eagles are generally stronger due to their larger size and more powerful build. Eagles are capable of taking down larger prey and have stronger talons and a more powerful beak than falcons.

Which bird is stronger than an eagle?

There are several bird species that are stronger than eagles, such as the harpy eagle, golden eagle, and Steller’s sea eagle. These birds are larger and more powerful than most other eagle species and are capable of taking down large prey.

Which bird is the strongest?

The harpy eagle is considered to be the strongest bird in the world, with a wingspan of up to seven feet and talons the size of grizzly bear claws. They are capable of taking down prey as large as monkeys and sloths and are found in the rainforests of Central and South America.

Final thoughts

When it comes to the question of eagle vs hawk, it is hard to pick a clear winner.

The two birds are impressive and unique in their own ways.

  • Eagles are larger and have more powerful wings compared to hawks, making them better suited for soaring at higher altitudes over long distances.
  • Hawks, on the other hand, have superior agility and maneuverability, allowing them to catch small prey in tight areas.

Ultimately, both birds are excellent hunters and have adapted to their respective environments over time.

Eagles are formidable opponents for humans as well, so it’s wise to give them a wide berth if you encounter one in nature.

Whether the majestic eagle or the resourceful hawk is your favorite, be sure to appreciate their abilities and respect the power of both of these birds.

No matter what side you take in the debate between eagle vs hawk, one thing is certain:

They’re both fascinating creatures that have earned our admiration and respect.

So grab a pair of binoculars and go out into nature to observe and appreciate them both!

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.