Have you ever seen a hawk or an eagle in the past? You will note that these are some of the well-known birds of prey that live in various parts of the world. In fact, these birds are both raptors as they normally share certain characteristics. To start with, these birds are powerful hunters and unlike other birds, they usually feed on meat. In most instances, they normally prefer to kill living prey.
From rodents to small birds, these birds can feed on different kinds of prey. Besides killing prey, they usually nibble on carcasses when their intended prey is proving difficult to hunt or is not there altogether. Despite having these similarities, these birds are different with a wide range of distinct features. One of the most visible differences is that an Eagle is larger than the Hawk. To know other distinct features, let’s ride on together!
What is a Hawk?
A hawk is a bird of prey that is medium in size and is known to possess incredible eyesight. Besides having sharp eyesight, it has great hunting characteristics. As far as its weight is concerned, this bird of prey can weigh up to 8 pounds. Just like other living creatures, these birds have different sizes.
Some of them are small while others are relatively big in size. For instance, there is the red-tailed hawk that is known to be the largest hawk on earth. In fact, it is bigger than the Australian little eagle. As far as its eyesight is concerned, this bird of prey can see as far as 20 feet ahead of it. Hawks are not nocturnal birds and therefore, usually hunt during the day.
It is imperative to note that this bird has a wingspan of 5 feet. Due to its strong broad wings and tail, this bird can soar to great heights and remain in the air for longer periods. For a hawk to hunt its prey successfully, it usually hides in trees. From that point, it can randomly attack its prey and capture it in a timely manner. Finally, this bird has a sharp beak that is curved at the front. A beak with this adaptation makes it easy for the bird to capture and tear its prey’s flesh seamlessly.
What is an Eagle?
Unlike the hawk, the eagle is large in size as it has long and broad wings. As far as its weight is concerned, this bird can weigh about 18 pounds or more. Apart from this, it has a heavier muscle body than the hawk. Just like any other creature, this bird varies in size. Some of them are very large in size.
Some good examples include; martial eagle, golden eagle, harpy eagle, Australian wedge-tailed eagle, white-tailed eagle, Philippine eagle among others. Other characteristics that make this bird unique are its strong legs, curved talons, and hooked beak. As far as hunting technique is concerned, this bird hunts its prey in flight.
Since its legs are strong and have curved talons, it can capture prey and take it to the nearest perch. In most cases, this bird preys on snakes, fish, rodents, and so forth. Finally, these birds of prey is prevalent in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
What are the Similarities Between a Hawk and an Eagle?
The above-mentioned birds of prey have a number of things in common. Like we mentioned above, these birds are carnivorous in nature. Besides being carnivorous, they are very common in forests and grasslands. As far as their classification is concerned, these birds belong to the family Accipitridae.
They are also large in size and usually have strong and powerful legs, claws, beaks, and wings. If you check keenly, the wings of these birds resemble each other. As far as hunting is concerned, these birds are usually active during the day. Therefore, they are known to be diurnal birds. Finally, these birds are known to have curved talons and sharp eyesight.
Main Differences Between a Hawk and an Eagle
Although these birds of prey have a number of similarities, they differ in several aspects. Here are the differences that set these birds of prey apart:
- Size: Like we mentioned above, the hawk is usually smaller in size compared to its counterpart. Eagles are generally large in size, thanks to their long and broad wings.
- Strength: As far as strength is concerned, eagles top the list as they are stronger than hawks. This is because eagles are large in size compared to eagles. Apart from being big in size, they have muscular legs and powerful talons. All these features make eagles superior in terms of strength.
- Number of species: Besides the size and strength, these birds of prey differ when it comes to the number of species each bird has. For instance, hawks are known to have 250 species while eagles have 74 species.
- Wingspan: Hawks tend to have a shorter wingspan compared to eagles. This is because the wingspan of a hawk is roughly 5 feet while that of an eagle can reach 8 feet and above.
- Color: Hawks usually have a great or reddish-brown color from the outside. However, it is whitish underneath. On the other hand, eagles are golden, brown, or blackish-gray in color. Besides this, the hawk has a black beak while eagles have a yellow beak. This is a major difference that separates these two raptors.
- Sound: Both birds make sounds from time to time. However, their sounds are different. For instance, eagles are known to make a subtle scream while its counterpart makes a high-pitched screeching sound.
- Types of prey: These birds hunt different kinds of prey. This is because these birds have different sizes and strengths. Due to these factors, the hawk tends to hunt smaller-sized prey such as rats, rabbits, mice, large insects, and so forth. However, the eagle is capable of hunting large prey such as snakes, waterfowls, medium-sized mammals among others.
- Nesting: Hawks are known to build bulky nests on top of rocks and trees while their counterparts usually build nests on top of cliffs or tall trees.
- Number of eggs: Hawks lay eggs several times compared to Eagles. It is proved that in their entire lifetime, eagles lay eggs two times while hawks lay eggs up to 5 times. In addition, every time hawk lay eggs they lay from 2 to 7 eggs. On the other hand, eagles normally lay two times per lay.
- Egg color: The eggs of a hawk are usually light blue or whitish in color with some brown spots. However, the eggs of an eagle are different as they are basically white in color.
- Name of individual groups: Just like other birds, these also live in groups. However, the name given to the group of each bird is different. For instance, a group of hawks is called a cast while that of eagles is known as convocation.
- Lifespan: Eagles usually live longer than hawks. This is because the lifespan of an eagle is 30 years while that of an eagle is 15 years.
From their sizes to their lifespan, there are many differences that set these birds of prey apart. By noting these differences, you will no longer have a difficult time distinguishing either of these birds. Note the above-mentioned differences today and you will no longer mistake a hawk for an eagle and vice versa.