What Bird Eats Other Birds


Birds of prey are known for their hunting and feeding habits, and some species have been observed eating other birds. This is a common phenomenon in the bird kingdom, where smaller and weaker birds can become prey to their larger and stronger counterparts.

The most common bird species known to eat other birds include raptors such as eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls. These predators use their sharp talons or beaks to catch their prey on the ground or in the air. Birds of prey also have excellent flight skills that they use to pursue their prey.

Aside from raptors, some non-predatory birds also eat other birds. For example, crows and magpies often feed on eggs or chicks of other bird species. Similarly, seagulls are known to snatch food from other seabirds.

It is important to note that although many bird species may sometimes eat other birds, this behavior is not typical for most bird species. Many birds primarily feed on insects, seeds, fruits or small animals like rodents.

A true story of a brown snake eagle who was captured by researchers after catching three smaller birds in quick succession was observed in South Africa. The eagle had swallowed one bird whole while killing the others before being caught by the researchers for examination purposes.

When it comes to dinner, these birds aren’t just satisfied with a side of seeds and berries – they prefer their meal to have feathers and a beak.

Birds that eat other birds

Birds of prey are known for their predatory nature, including their tendency to hunt and consume other birds. These avian predators sit at the top of the food chain and are equipped with sharp talons, strong beaks, and exceptional eyesight. Here are some examples of birds that eat other birds:

  • Bald Eagles: These majestic birds are known for their impressive wingspan and keen hunting skills. Their diet consists of fish, small mammals, and other birds, which they catch with their sharp talons.
  • Cooper’s Hawks: These medium sized hawks are agile predators that hunt other birds in the woods and forests. They are known for their rapid flight and precise attacks.
  • Peregrine Falcons: These fastest birds in the world are known for their hunting speed and accuracy. Their main prey is other birds, which they catch midair at high speeds.
  • Gyrfalcons: These larger falcons are known for their powerful hunting skills and their ability to hunt in the harsh arctic environment. They prey on other birds, including ducks and ptarmigans.

It’s worth noting that there are also many other species of birds that occasionally eat other birds, including gulls, crows, and even certain species of owls. However, these birds are not exclusively predatory.

Pro Tip: If you want to spot birds that eat other birds, look for them in areas where their prey is abundant, such as near bodies of water or in areas with high avian populations. Keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural hunting behaviors.

Why settle for a regular meal when the Peregrine Falcon can have dinner and a show?

Peregrine Falcon

This particular bird of prey is a master at hunting other birds, using speed and agility to reach unthinkable heights before swooping down on their unsuspecting prey. With sharp talons and a powerful beak, the Peregrine Falcon can take down prey as large as pigeons or ducks in mid-flight.

These falcons are found worldwide and have adapted well to urban environments, where they hunt in skyscraper canyons just as they do in natural settings. It is fascinating that despite being known for their aerial acrobatics and impressive hunting style, Peregrine Falcons were nearly wiped out due to pesticide contamination from DDT.

Also intriguing is the fact that the diet of these birds can change based on their location and available prey. While some may primarily hunt other birds, others may supplement their diet with small mammals or even insects.

If you ever find yourself wanting to observe this incredible species up close, it is best to do so from a safe distance. These birds are known to be quite protective of their nests and young, so it is important not to disturb them. Additionally, supporting efforts for environmental conservation helps ensure these skilled hunters continue to thrive for generations to come.

The Cooper’s hawk makes Hannibal Lecter look like a vegetarian.

Cooper’s Hawk

A raptor bird that primarily feeds on other birds is a member of Accipitridae and has the hunting skills of a true predator. This particular species, characterized by its short wings and long tail, is named after William Cooper. The distinctive bird, referred to as Cooper’s Hawk, is found in North America from Mexico to Canada during most seasons. Their sharp vision and agility enable them to capture prey such as doves and pigeons while flying at high speeds.

Cooper’s Hawks become active during the daytime and can be seen perched on tree branches, flycatching or soaring above treetops. They have a fast flight pattern combined with sudden bursts of speed to catch their prey. These hawks use their strong talons and sharp hooked bill to grab hold of their meal while in flight. Interestingly, male Cooper’s Hawks are known to be dramatically smaller than the female species.

In natural settings where these hawks thrive, efforts should be taken to preserve habitats that support their presence. Additionally, creating bird-friendly gardens or backyards by planting shrubs or bushes can attract smaller birds controlled by this hawk population, minimizing any negative impact on bird populations in those areas. Furthermore, awareness about legal protection for these birds from hunting or trapping should be promoted for their well-being and preservation.

When it comes to dining, the Red-tailed Hawk is not picky – it’ll eat anything from rodents to other birds, making it the ultimate foodie of the sky.

Red-tailed Hawk

A raptor of the genus Buteo found throughout most of North America, the Red-tailed Hawk is known for its carnivorous diet which includes a wide array of prey, including other birds. This bird is capable of swooping down swiftly to snatch up smaller birds in flight or pouncing on them while perched. Their talons are incredibly strong and perfect for grasping their prey tightly without letting go.

The Red-tailed Hawk’s hunting techniques vary depending on the size and agility of their intended prey. These skilled hunters have been recorded catching other birds in mid-air or striking them with great force while diving from above. They may also surprise their prey by ambushing them from behind cover.

Interestingly, Red-tailed Hawks often select their prey based on how easy it is to catch, rather than its nutritional value. While they have been known to hunt larger mammals and reptiles, they typically prefer smaller birds as this requires less energy expenditure during the hunting process.

It has been recorded that Red-tailed Hawks have a keen vision which helps them locate prey even from great distances. In fact, they can see more detail at long ranges than humans can ever hope to do so.

(Source: www.allaboutbirds.org)

You know what they say about the Sharp-shinned Hawk, it’s all fun and games until someone loses a head.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The avian predator with a slender body and short wings that enables it to catch agile birds in mid-flight is a swift, agile bird. Its prey typically includes other small-to-medium-sized songbirds. Due to its unobtrusive nature, it is difficult to spot this sneaky bird of prey.

It often preys on non-migratory birds and mostly nests in densely forested regions. The sharp-shinned accipiter’s hunting style is deft, with the bird staying low before taking off vertically to seize its prey from below, thereby avoiding detection.

This species also displays highly specific migratory habits that differ significantly between different subspecies. Sharp-shinned Hawks have been recorded traveling vast distances during their yearly migrations.

Discovering additional information regarding the movements of different subspecies is critical not only for expanding our knowledge but also for devising suitable conservation strategies tailored to each distinct population.

As we discover more about this fearful hunter’s impressive feats, it becomes apparent that attempting to witness one firsthand should be a top priority for any keen wildlife observer. Do not miss out on the chance to see this magnificent creature in action!

Looks like the bald eagle didn’t get the memo about being the ‘national symbol of freedom’, because it sure enjoys feasting on its fellow feathered friends.

Bald Eagle

This raptor is known for its strong and sharp beak, which it uses to capture and consume live prey such as fish, small mammals, and other birds. The Bald Eagle is considered a top predator in the food chain due to its impressive hunting abilities and fearless disposition. Its wingspan can reach up to 7 feet, making it an excellent hunter of airborne creatures such as ducks and geese. This majestic bird’s powerful talons allow it to hold onto prey securely while maintaining high altitude. These eagles are considered symbols of courage and freedom in many cultures worldwide.

Bald eagles typically hunt near water sources where they can find their preferred diet of fish. However, they are also known for preying on other birds such as gulls, herons, cormorants, and even smaller raptors like hawks. In some cases, Bald Eagles have even been observed hunting down larger prey such as deer fawns.

Interestingly, these magnificent birds are also scavengers that frequently feed on carrion when live prey is scarce. They use their outstanding eyesight to spot potential food sources from afar and can glide up to miles without flapping their wings in search of food.

Pro Tip: Bald Eagles are best viewed from a distance as they are protected under federal law by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It is illegal to disturb or harass them.

Why eat a worm when you can have a whole other bird for breakfast? The Great Horned Owl knows where it’s at.

Great Horned Owl

The formidable predator with feathered ear tufts can surprise its prey silently. Its powerful talons and sharp beak make it an expert hunter in the bird world. Its diet consists of avian species ranging from small songbirds to large waterfowl.

Great horned owls are renowned for their unique adaptation to their environment. Their plumage, which is distinctively colored with shades of brown, gray and black, makes them blend beautifully with trees where they often roost during daylight hours.

These birds’ hunting techniques are superbly varied; besides taking roosting birds at night, they also hunt by day, mainly taking ground-based prey such as rodents and even rabbits. What’s more, they have exceptional eyesight and can see clearly up to almost eight times farther than humans.

Interestingly, great horned owls’ fierce talons possess a grip so strong that once caught prey are often too heavy to lift off the ground. A source on Live Science reveals that great horned owls “have developed a unique way to deal with this particular problem- they will drop the prey item and kill it on impact.”

It’s undoubtedly fascinating how nature has bestowed these majestic creatures with remarkable characteristics essential for survival in their ecosystem. Looks like even in the bird world, there’s no such thing as loyalty.

Reasons why birds eat other birds

Birds are known for having diverse diets, some being strictly vegetarian, while others consume insects, rodents or other birds. The reasons why a bird may eat another bird can vary depending on different factors such as habitat, climate and availability of prey. This dietary behaviour is referred to as avian predation.

Avian predation is often observed in birds of prey, such as falcons and eagles, and is driven by their natural instinct to hunt and feed. These birds have specialized beaks and talons that allow them to capture and kill prey. Additionally, some species of birds eat other birds in order to compete for limited resources or to protect their own territories. This is seen in gulls and terns, who have been known to eat the eggs and chicks of other species.

In some cases, birds may also turn to eating other birds as a result of environmental factors such as drought or overpopulation of a specific prey species. This may cause birds to switch to alternative prey, including other birds.

To prevent bird predation, some strategies include protecting nests with netting or using bird-scaring devices. It is important to note that avian predation is a natural part of the ecosystem and can have positive effects on controlling populations of certain species. However, in some cases, it can lead to the decline of endangered species and disrupt the balance of the ecosystem.

When it comes to survival and food competition, birds prove that the early bird doesn’t always get the worm, sometimes it’s the early bird that gets eaten.

Survival and food competition

To succeed in the competitive world of survival, avian species have developed unique ways to find food. Hunting and killing other birds is one such behavior. Here are some reasons why birds eat other birds:

  • Birds seek out weaker prey to maintain their position in the ecosystem.
  • For some bird species, smaller and weaker members of their own kind, along with other species, provide a readily available source of protein-rich food.
  • Birds opt for a dietary switch when prey is scarce; this includes adapting from consuming bugs and seeds to feeding on other avian species.
  • Raptors have powerful talons and keen eyesight, allowing them to take down relatively larger prey like ducks or herons.
  • The egg of another bird is also a known delicacy for some avian predators as they pose little threat and supply necessary nutrition.
  • In certain rare instances, psychotic tendencies drive birds towards cannibalism where they might feed on other specimens of their own kind or consume eggs lodged in nearby nests.

Apart from these reasons, it is observed that change in weather patterns may also affect the prevalence of bird-on-bird predation. The opportunity caused by unusual conditions prompts competition among local bids. Therefore, during droughts or heatwaves that lead to scarcity of insects or seeds could trigger an uptick in bird-on-bird attacks.

Although bird predation may seem gruesome at times, they are an essential component of the natural cycle – both as predators and preys. Nonetheless, there are a few suggestions that may help keep your garden free from predatory interference. One way is placing specific types of trees or bushes around the area providing shelter to smaller birds but busying it up too much so that hawks aren’t able to sweep by easily. Another option would be positioning string curtains above plants – this prevents hawks from dropping in for a surprise meal while not interfering with the flying paths of smaller birds.

Birds eating other birds: when survival of the fittest becomes dinner theater.

Reproductive advantage

One possible explanation for birds consuming other birds is the potential to gain a reproductive advantage. By eliminating rival bird species, they can increase their access to resources such as food and nesting sites. This increases their chances of survival and reproduction, potentially allowing them to produce more offspring and pass on advantageous genetic traits. Additionally, studies have shown that certain bird species may exhibit cannibalistic behavior as a form of parental care, providing additional nutrients to their young or culling weaker hatchlings to ensure the survival of stronger offspring. However, it is important to note that not all bird species engage in this behavior and there may be other contributing factors.

Interestingly, some studies suggest that consuming other birds may not always confer a reproductive advantage. For example, researchers have found that female kestrels who consume more males during mating season do not necessarily produce more offspring. The reasons behind this are complex and may involve factors such as mate quality and compatibility. Other studies have also pointed out potential negative consequences of cannibalism, including increased risk of disease transmission.

In folklore, the practice of using bird consumption for reproductive advantage has been recorded in various cultures throughout history. For example, ancient Romans believed consuming owl meat could lead to improved fertility and virility. While the science behind these beliefs may remain questionable, the cultural significance of bird consumption persists in many areas today, particularly in traditional medicine practices.

Birds may have feathers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t indulge in a little cannibalism to mix up their diet.

Dietary needs and niche differentiation

Birds’ Feeding Needs and Ecological Niche Separation

Birds, like any other animal, have specific dietary needs that must be met to survive. In addition, they occupy different ecological niches, which dictate their feeding behavior. This results in some birds preying on others either as part of their natural food chain or through competition for resources.

The table below highlights bird species that are known to eat other birds based on ecological niche differentiation.

Bird Species Ecological Niche
Peregrine Falcon Top predator of the avian food chain
Cooper’s Hawk Woodland predator, known for preying on songbirds
Northern Goshawk Forest-dwelling hawk, hunting larger birds like ducks and grouse
Great Horned Owl Opportunistic predator that eats small mammals and other birds

Apart from specialized feeding behavior dictated by ecological needs and competition for resources, some species of birds resort to cannibalism either due to starvation or kleptoparasitism. A study conducted by ornithologists in New Zealand found that Kea parrots occasionally preyed on other vulnerable bird species.

The Indian Myna bird is an invasive species in Australia responsible for devastating local fauna populations; it has been known to kill and consume eggs and nestlings of native songbirds. Research shows that predation reduces populations of other competing species.

Looks like the old saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’ has a dark and cannibalistic twist to it.


It is a known fact that birds eat other birds, as it is part of the natural food chain. Predatory birds like falcons, eagles and hawks tend to feed on smaller birds which they catch in mid-air or on the ground. This behavior is commonly known as “avian cannibalism.” These predator birds often hunt for prey while in flight and use their speed and agility to catch smaller birds.

Apart from predatory birds, certain species of owls also eat other birds. Owls have been observed preying on smaller bird species such as warblers, sparrows, wrens and finches. They use their strong talons to grab hold of their prey and sharp beaks to tear off flesh.

Some bird species also practice brood parasitism where they lay eggs in the nest of another bird species and have them raise their young. The baby bird then grows up feeding on the host’s nestlings or eggs before they fledge. The brown-headed cowbird is an example of a brood parasitic bird that feeds on the nestlings of other small songbirds.

Pro Tip: It is crucial to understand the feeding habits of different bird species when setting up bird houses or feeders in your backyard. Avoid placing feeders near windows or reflective surfaces to minimize injuries caused by collisions during flight.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What bird eats other birds?

There are several birds that eat other birds, such as eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and some types of gulls.

2. Why do some birds eat other birds?

Some birds eat other birds as a way to survive and obtain the necessary nutrients and proteins they need. Additionally, some birds may prey on smaller birds to control population levels, reduce competition for resources, or defend their territories.

3. What do birds that eat other birds usually eat?

Birds that eat other birds usually feed on smaller birds, but they may also consume insects, mammals, fish, and even reptiles. The specific diet of each bird depends on its size, habitat, and hunting behavior.

4. What is an example of a bird that preys on other types of birds?

The peregrine falcon is one of the most well-known birds that prey on other birds. This bird can reach speeds of more than 200 mph while diving to catch its prey, which can range from small songbirds to larger birds such as ducks and pigeons.

5. Are there any birds that only eat other birds?

Yes, there are some species of birds, such as the shrike and the osprey, that primarily feed on other birds. However, most birds that eat other birds also eat a variety of other foods, depending on what is available in their environment.

6. Is it common for birds to eat other birds?

While many birds are primarily herbivores or insectivores, there are still a significant number of species that eat meat, including other birds. However, the prevalence of bird predation varies widely depending on the species and location, so it is difficult to say how common it is overall.

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.