Difference Between Eagle and Hawk
It’s hard to admit it but many are really confused about the real difference between an eagle and a hawk. People around the world just identify any huge flying bird to what they are accustomed in calling them. Nevertheless, if there is a popularity contest, the eagle will surely win by a landslide as more people know about the term eagle compared to the hawk. But little did these individuals know that there really are some differences between the two, it’s just difficult to pinpoint the disparity by just taking a glimpse of these birds at a far distance.
Eagles and hawks are raptors (birds of prey) that belong to the family Accipitridae. There are around 60 species of eagles and more than 250 species of hawks that can be found on all continents except on the Antarctica. Eagles and hawks inhabit forests, grasslands, alpine meadows, tundra, deserts, sea coasts, suburban and urban areas. Both eagles and hawks are diurnal birds (active during the day). They hunt and eat different types of animals. Despite many common features, eagles and hawks can be differentiated from each other by:
Body Size and Morphology
Eagles are usually larger that hawks. Typical eagle weighs 18 pounds, while large species of hawks rarely exceed weight of 8 pounds. Red-tailed hawk is an exception. It is much bigger than the Australian little eagle (species of small eagle). Eagles are generally stronger. They have heavily-built, muscular body, hooked beak, curved talons and very strong legs. Their hind talon is especially strong and well-developed to facilitate gripping and transport of heavy prey. Hawks have curved beak and very sharp talons. Legs of both eagles and hawks are at least partially covered with feathers.
Eagles have a wingspan of 8 feet, while most hawks have a wingspan of less than 5 feet. Hawks can soar for long period of time thanks to their long, broad wings and wide tail.
Color of the Body and Beak
Eagles are usually covered with golden, blackish-gray and brown feathers and have yellowish or light-colored beak. Hawks often have grey or reddish-brown plumage on the back and white feathers on the chest and belly. Their beak is dark-colored.
Both eagles and hawks have keen eyesight which facilitates detection of food. Eagles fly and hunt their prey in the air and carry it in the claws to the nearest perch where they will tear it apart and eat. Hawks often hide in the trees until potential prey appears. Once the prey is detected, hawks rapidly leave their perches and attack by using the element of surprise.
Eagles hunt larger prey such as snakes, medium-sized vertebrates and mammals and other birds. Sea eagles hunt fish and marine creatures. Hawks hunt and eat rats, mice, gophers, rabbits and large insects. They do not consume fish.
Eagles produce subtle screams, while hawks produce high-pitched screeching noise.
Most species of eagles lay 2 eggs in the nest located in the tall trees or on the cliffs. Older chick often kills its sibling to ensure more food for itself. Hawks lay 2 to 7 eggs in the nest on the cliffs, hills, trees or occasionally on the ground. Both parents take care and provide food for their chicks.