Falcon vs. Eagle vs. Hawk: What Is the Difference? 15 Facts

We have to accept that falcons, hawks, and eagles are all birds of prey that look a lot alike. But that doesn’t mean you can just put them all in the same group.

All of them are raptors, and they are all proud and strong. They are all different and you should be aware of that.

This article will help you tell the difference between an eagle, a falcon, and a hawk and compare their main features. Who would win if they fought? At the end, it will be up to you to decide…

What is Falcon?

The falcon is a type of bird that belongs to the genus Falco. These birds can be told apart by their bullet-shaped bodies, medium-length tails, long toes, pointed wings, and short, hooked beaks.

Most falcon species are dark brown or grey, with white, yellow, and black patterns on their bodies.

You can find these birds in the deserts, mountains, forests, cities, and on the coasts of Africa, Australia, South and North America, and Eurasia.

What is Eagle?

Eagles are often called the “king of birds” because they are so strong, fast, high in the air, and mean.

These birds are easy to spot because of their size. Eagles have big nails and long, curved beaks.

Falcon vs. Eagle vs. Hawk

People often get the eagle and the falcon mixed up. You can tell the difference between an eagle and a falcon if you look closely. The eagle is bigger and stronger than the falcon.

What is a Hawk?

A hawk is a bird of prey that comes in many different types. The beaks and claws of all of these animals are very sharp.

These birds look like owls and eagles. Hawks are daytime birds in the family Accipitridae.

They are about the size of crows. Like falcons, hawks like to live in different kinds of places, such as marshes, rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, deserts, and places near the coast.

People often confuse falcons and hawks for each other. But when it comes to how hawks and falcons are different, they have different sizes, behaviours, and traits.

Eagle vs Falcon vs Hawk Comparison

Now, we’ll look at the most important parts and traits of each bird and compare them side by side.

Species

  • Eagle: 60
  • Falcon: 40
  • Hawk: 200+

To make things even more confusing, some hawks are not usually called hawks, and some species are closely related to all three types of birds of prey.

There are more than 60 kinds of eagles, about 40 kinds of falcons, and more than 200 kinds of hawks.

But some sources say there are more than 250 kinds of hawks, while others say there are more like 210.

People often mix up hawks, buzzards, kites, harriers, and eagles because they are all in the same family, Accipitridae. Also, the word “hawk” can be used to describe any bird that hunts.

Appearance

Key ID features:

  • Eagle: large, strong, structured
  • Falcon: small, narrow, pointed
  • Hawk: medium, broad

Eagles are the easiest to tell apart from other birds because they are the biggest in the sky and have a clearer head shape than falcons and hawks. It’s almost like they’ve grown stronger!

Falcons aren’t as common as other birds, and most of them are short and thin, with pointed wings that help them move quickly.

Hawk species are the hardest to tell apart based on how they look. Their colours and patterns vary a lot from one species to the next. Buzzards are similar to hawks, but their tails are shorter and their bodies are wider.

Vocalization

  • Eagle: screeching
  • Falcon: shrieks and whistles
  • Hawk: hoarse screams

In this video, a bald eagle calls out to another eagle that is nearby. You might think it sounds like a “caw,” but it doesn’t.

In TV dramas and movies, when a big bird flies above, the same far-off caw sound is used. However, this is not true.

A falcon doesn’t make a long screech sound. Instead, it makes a high-pitched shriek. Sometimes you can hear the bird whistling.

Lastly, hawks have harsh, high-pitched calls. It sounds like their throat is hurting.

In fact, birds don’t always make noise, so that might not always be the best way to tell them apart.

Height

  • Eagle: 45cm – 107cm
  • Falcon: 20cm – 65cm
  • Hawk: 20cm – 69cm

The length of a bird, from beak to tail, is what we mean. When the bird is lying flat on its back, the length is measured from the tip of the tail to the tip of the bill.

But because this measurement isn’t always accurate, it’s not often used for comparisons or scientific research.

You should also remember that a bird’s size depends on its age, gender, and species, not just its species.

Still, we found the average lengths of the smallest and biggest birds in each species to give you an idea of how different they are.

Smallest eagle – Australian little eagle – 45cm
Largest eagle – Harpy eagle – 107cm (closely beating the Steller’s sea eagle at 105cm)

Smallest falcon – Pygmy falcon – 20cm
Largest falcon – Gyrfalcon – 65cm

Smallest hawk – Tiny hawk – 20cm
Largest hawk – Ferruginous hawk – 69cm

Weight

  • Eagle: 815g – 6250g
  • Falcon: 85g – 1752g
  • Hawk: 75g – 2268g

The length and weight of a bird depend on its species. Many of these bird species have big differences in size between males and females, with the females being much bigger than the males.

If it’s not clear from the colours and patterns whether a bird of prey is male or female, its size and weight can help.

The average numbers are as follows:

Smallest eagle – Australian little eagle – 815g
Largest eagle – Steller’s sea eagle – 6250g

Smallest falcon – Pygmy falcon – 85g
Largest falcon – Gyrfalcon – 1752g

Smallest hawk – Tiny hawk – 75g
Largest hawk – Ferruginous hawk – 2268g

Wingspan

  • Eagle: 120cm – 2.2m
  • Falcon: 112cm – 160cm
  • Hawk: 40cm – 152cm

The wingspan is the distance between the tips of one wing and the other when the wings are spread out.

Like weight and length, it varies from person to person and species to species.

It is not usually used by itself to figure out how big a bird is. The best size indicators are the wingspan, weight, and length.

Smallest eagle – Australian little eagle – 120cm
Largest eagle – Steller’s sea eagle – 2.2m

Smallest falcon – Pygmy falcon – 112cm
Largest falcon – Gyrfalcon – 160cm

Smallest hawk – Tiny hawk – 40cm
Largest hawk – Ferruginous hawk – 152cm

Lifespan

  • Eagle: 20 years
  • Falcon: 13 years
  • Hawk: 20 years

It’s hard to figure out how long wild birds live because some species are rarely tagged or are just gone.

Falcon vs. Eagle vs. Hawk

Still, keeping these birds in cages has helped us get a good idea of how long they live. This isn’t true for wild birds, because birds kept in captivity can live longer if they are taken care of well.

The averages for each bird family in the wild are shown above. But there are some exceptions, and we expect this data to change as more research is done.

People say that some eagles live much longer than others, but this may not be true.

Matthew Igleski, who has a master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Michigan, says that few birds live to be 70 years old. The oldest bird he knows of was a golden eagle that lived in a zoo for 46 years.

Diet

  • Eagle: Small mammals, fish, snakes
  • Falcon: Small rodents and rabbits
  • Hawk: Small birds and rodents

All three of these species eat meat, and their diets are usually pretty similar.

Most eagles hunt for their food, but there are some species that also scavenge. Most of the time, eagles eat small animals like rabbits, snakes, and fish. However, some eagles can eat bigger animals.

Falcons like to eat mice and bats, but some of the bigger species can kill a rabbit. It depends on what kinds of rodents are available in the environment of each falcon species.

Hawks eat other small birds or rodents, like sparrows. A few of the smaller species might also eat insects.

Populous

The word “populous” means that there are a lot of people. Because there are so many different kinds of eagles, falcons, and hawks, there are no general numbers. It would be like trying to figure out how many fish there are in the ocean.

Populations can vary a lot because some species are much more rare than others.

For example, there are only 400 to 500 pairs of Philippines eagles left in the wild. This makes it one of the rarest and most endangered species in the world.

On the other hand, some eagle populations have been able to recover. In 1995, the American bald eagle was listed as “endangered,” but now it is “least concern.”

Reports say that there are so many breeding pairs that surveys don’t have to be done every year.

Habitat

  • Eagle: Everywhere except Antarctica
  • Falcon: Everywhere except Antarctica
  • Hawk: Everywhere except Antarctica

Eagles, falcons, and hawks are all on the same level when it comes to where they live. The only place on Earth where these birds can’t live is Antarctica.

Still, some animals are happier in some places than in others. The Gray Hawk, for example, likes wide fields and the edges of woods. It lives from the south of the United States to the north of Costa Rica.

Other hawk species, like the Sharp-shinned hawk, like to live in areas of the northern United States and Canada that have a lot of trees. The Bald Eagle likes to live close to large bodies of water.

Whether the land is mountainous or grassy, most birds need large, empty spaces to live in. Still, “urban raptors” do exist, and you might be able to spot one in your area!

Territory

Every animal has a different range of land where it lives and hunts. Some like to be with other birds, while others can only have one or two birds on their territory at a time. Birds can have very large areas that they call home.

It’s hard to find average information about the size of eagle, falcon, and hawk territories. You might have better luck if you try to find the territory range of a single bird species that lives near you.

Some species are known to move around, while others live in the same place year-round. For example, bald eagles may migrate if they nest in a place in the north where the water stays frozen all winter. Bald eagles are happy to live full-time in the south, where there is water all year.

Flying Speed

  • Eagle: Up to 150mph
  • Falcon: Up to 250mph
  • Hawk: Up to 120mph

If you want to see some amazing speeds, you should think about diving, not flying. When the bird moves its wings to move forward, it doesn’t get very fast, but when it dives to catch its prey, it does so very quickly.

The Golden Eagle can dive at up to 150 miles per hour, which makes it one of the fastest eagles.

On the other hand, falcons can move even faster. The Peregrine falcon can dive at speeds of over 200mph, making it not only the fastest bird in the world, but also the fastest animal in the whole animal kingdom.

Lastly, hawks aren’t known for how fast they are. Most of the birds on the list of the fastest birds in the world are falcons, eagles, and a few others. Still, hawks can dive at a pretty fast rate.

The red-tailed hawk can dive at 120 mph, making it the fastest hawk.

Nesting

  • Eagle: cup-shaped and long-lasting
  • Falcon: sparse with minimal effort
  • Hawk: large and long-lasting

Falcon vs. Eagle vs. Hawk

Eagles and hawks both build big, comfortable nests that will last as long as possible when it’s time to start a family. The birds will keep coming back to the nest as long as it’s still there.

Eagles build a cup-shaped nest out of wood and soft material, like moss, that lines the inside. Each year, there are more eggs in the nest.

Hawks build their nests on the highest branch of a big, old tree and will fight hard to keep other hawks and people away.

On the other hand, the Falcons don’t follow the pattern. They usually do the least work, using just a few sticks or a shallow hole in the ground. Falcons often build their nests on the edges of cliffs or on rocky outcrops.

Eggs

Number of eggs per year:

  • Eagle: 1-3
  • Falcon: 2-5
  • Hawk: 1-5

Every year, the eagle lays between one and three eggs. The eggs hatch in just over a month (35 days). Most of the time, the shells are white, but some species have brown spots on them. Of course, you’re not likely to see any in the wild until you get very high!

Falcons usually lay anywhere from two to five white eggs with brown spots. The brown spots on falcon eggs are darker than those on eagle eggs. After 30 days, the eggs will have hatched.

Both of the hawks in a pair take care of the eggs until they hatch. Each female usually lays one to five bluish-white eggs a year.

All of these birds are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night.

Mating

  • Eagle: Mate for life
  • Falcon: Mate for life
  • Hawk: Dependent on species

Eagles are solitary animals, so you won’t see a lot of them together. They stay with the same partner for life and return to the same nest every year. Eagles, on the other hand, tend to fly alone.

Falcons only have one partner for life. Even though they don’t have permanent nests, they come back to the same territory every year to mate.

Some types of hawks are monogamous, but other types are not. Hawks do a synchronized circle dance in the air to find a partner.

Hawks also gather in groups called “kettles,” which can have thousands of members depending on the species.

Eagle vs Falcon vs Hawk – Who Wins in a Fight?

We’ve got a quick and clear answer for you: the eagle. Any falcon or hawk species would be no match for the largest eagle species.

The fast and nimble peregrine falcon had the best chance of avoiding an attack, but most species would die quickly if an eagle decided to attack.

Hawk vs. Eagle vs. Falcon Pros Cons

Hawk Pros and Cons

Pros of Hawk

  • Hawks are excellent hunters. They can see their prey from the sky and then dive right after it to kill it.
  • Hawks are very beautiful and would make great pets for your backyard.

Cons of Hawk

  • Hawks are not like parakeets because they need more space. Having these birds at home also requires more care and cleanliness.
  • Because of carelessness, these birds can die. If you and your pet aren’t trained, you or someone else could get hurt.

Eagle Pros and Cons

Pros of Eagle

  • Eagles can see well and have strong claws and beaks, which help them catch prey.
  • Eagles are at the top of the food chain, and no other animal eats them. However, some animals do steal their eggs by breaking into their nests.

Cons of Eagle

  • Eagles are called “lazy-suckers” because they don’t like to hunt and would rather find food on their own.
  • If an eagle catches the wrong animal, like a big fish, its wings could get tangled up.

Falcon Pros and Cons

Pros of Falcon

  • Some animals that look like peregrines are known for how fast they can move. Not only do these falcons fly fast, but they also fly far.
  • All birds in the flavonoid family hunt in different ways and have different beak shapes that help them catch their prey.

Falcon vs. Eagle vs. Hawk

Cons of Falcon

  • Falcons have small brains, and they only like to do one thing: hunt.
  • Falcons don’t make good food because they are wild and aggressive. All species of falcon are natural predators that cost a lot of money.

Frequently Asked Questions about Falcons, Eagles and Hawks

Who Is the More Powerful Eagle or Falcon?

The eagle is bigger and stronger, and his talons are better able to catch prey.

What Bird Is the Strongest?

The “Harpy Eagle” is the most powerful bird in the world.

Which Bird Can Defeat the Eagle?

The only bird that is brave enough to attack an eagle is the “Raven.”

What Bird Is the King of the Sky?

The eagle is called the “King of the Sky” because it can fly high in the air.

Conclusion

There are different kinds of birds all over the world. The hawk, falcon, and eagle are some of them.

These three species are different in many ways, such as having good eyesight and a strong beak.

All three species move quickly and eat meat. But each one is different from the others. The difference between a hawk, an eagle, and a falcon is that they all look different.

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