How Hawks Attack

Hawks are fierce, large predator birds that prey on smaller animals. 

Unlike other birds that like to eat berries and insects, they will eat nearly any small mammal that they can including other birds! 

They’ll even eat lizards, frogs, or snakes if they’re feeling particularly hungry! 

In today’s post, we’ll be sharing with you how exactly hawks identify, attack, and get their prey. 

To watch the shocking video version of this post (mature audiences only), then click HERE now. 

You can also download the audio-only podcast version if you’d like to listen to this anytime by clicking the download button above. 

Let’s jump right into this: 

Hawks: Patiently Waiting For The Surprise Attack

Some bird species such as crows are quite intelligent. Crows can actually remember human faces, and are quite social creatures. 

In fact it is documented and well known that if you treat some crows badly you may be harassed by the other crows. However, if you treat crows nicely (ie. leaving food for them), then they may leave little “gifts” such as shiny objects they’ve found back for you. 

Hawks on the other hand are not near as intelligent and not near as social. They are silent predators that wait patiently for the perfect moment to attack. 

Hawks prefer to sit up on a high tree, though in urban cases they may choose something else like the top of your house or building.

Incredible Binocular Vision 

Unlike birds such as pigeons, hawks have forward-facing eyes with excellent vision. 

Hawks can clearly see a small creature such as a rabbit from a mile away without issue! 

From their position high up top most small creatures may disregard the hawk or not notice them. 

The hawk on the other hand will survey the land to make sure that there are no nearby defenses or escapes for the victim creature, such as a mother or escape point. 

Hawks prefer to sit and wait, preserving their energy for the perfect moment rather than wasting energy in fights that they could easily lose on the ground. 

Some small animals, such as raccoons, are fierce fighters and will not go down easily. If the hawk fails in the initial attack, it’s possible that the situation could turn around and the hawk becomes the victim and prey! 

The Perfect Moment: Swooping In

When a hawk feels that the perfect moment has arisen, which is usually a small single creature alone out in an open field vulnerable to attack, then the hawk will immediately jump off the high point. 

Gravity will send the hawk downwards at an increasingly fast speed. This is when they will open their wings and develop an angle. 

If the hawk timed the attack perfectly, the prey will have their back facing to the hawk, and the wind will also be working in their favor. 

The small critter on the ground won’t see what’s about to happen. 

The hawk will swing in not from straight down or sideways, but rather something like a 45-degree angle that combines downward force with sideways speed. 

The Attack

The hawk will prepare its claws or talons to penetrate the body of the small animal that it has selected to be eaten. 

If the attack is perfectly timed, the hawk will be able to puncture the back neck of the small animal, and potentially even gouge out the poor critter’s eyes, rendering defense a futile task. 

The hawk prefers for the attack to be quick and clean, and will immediately attempt to eat the prey even if it is still alive, but not before dismembering the prey with its talons. 

The Smash Technique

In the case of larger small animals that the hawk can’t easily slaughter with its talons and gravity, the hawk will opt in to a smash or drop technique. 

If the hawk had previously identified a hill or cliff nearby, the prey will be picked up and dropped right over the hill or cliff. 

If there is no such drop, it is risky for the hawk to attempt to lift the prey up high into the air. 

A failed initial attack combined with picking up the prey is extremely risky. The hawk will have to deal with the weight of the prey which is hard. 

Further complicating matters is that the prey could intensely fight back! While the prey would likely still be critically injured from even a light fall, the hawk may also receive devastating injuries that weakens it. 

For this reason a modified “smash” technique can be employed by the hawk to quickly render its prey unconscious. 

In this case the hawk will swoop in with less downward force but more speed. They will quickly pick up the animal and then using its speed and flight send the animal crashing into a tree or object. 

Celebrating a Delicious Meal vs. Failure

Hawks prefer to immediately eat their prey on the ground. If they feel it is unsafe, they may release their prey and fly away, OR attempt to carry the body of the prey up into a tree where it can be safely eaten. 

Hawks are opportunistic predators that rely strictly on the element of surprise to succeed in the brutal animal kingdom. 

Without the element of surprise from above, hawks will find their strength matched by other small animals that have no problem fighting back until the bitter end. 

In many of these cases, the hawk may lose or be forced to retreat with serious injury, further restricting them from future hunts. 

Wildlife & Pests 

Small wild animals such as raccoons, possums, and squirrels that are prey to hawks often try to seek refuge and build little bases inside of our modern homes and buildings. 

They can create little holes and find their way between our walls or in our attics or other secret spots which causes damage to our home and puts you and your family at risk of disease or attack! 

Birds also may attempt to infest your home in order to have a safe area for nesting and safety from other predators! 

If you think that you have a wildlife or pest infestation problem, please call us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit for more information. 

We safely & responsibly remove the wild animals and return them to the wild where they belong whenever possible. 

Again, get more information by calling us or visiting our website to see how we can help you, your family, and your home. 

Thanks for reading & have a great day! 
-Wildlife x Team International 

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