Difference Between A Hawk And An Eagle

If you’re someone who’s interested in birds of prey, you’ll understand how fascinating it can be to watch these majestic creatures soaring high above in the sky, hunting their prey with incredible accuracy and speed. Two birds that, perhaps, exemplify this the most are hawks and eagles. People often confuse these two birds as they look similar, but they are entirely different from each other.

So, what is the difference between a hawk and an eagle? Let’s explore this in detail and understand how these mighty birds differ from each other.

Physical Appearance:

One of the significant differences between the two is their physical appearance. Hawks are smaller than eagles, and they have a leaner frame. They have long and sharp talons, which make them perfect for catching and holding onto their prey. Contrarily, eagles are larger than the hawks and have thicker and more robust talons. They also have more prominent, hooked jaws that help them to rip their prey apart.

Additionally, the wingspan and the shape of the wings differ between eagles and hawks. Eagles have broader wings that help them soar high into the sky, while hawks have narrower wings ideal for hunting in smaller spaces, including forests and fields.


Hawks prefer living in areas that provide a higher amount of treed and woodlands, along with open spaces like grasslands or fields. They are also adapted to living in urban environments like cities or towns, where they thrive because of the abundance of food and nesting sites. However, eagles typically prefer areas with large bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. They prefer areas with a lot of fish and other water animals, which make up a significant portion of their diet.


Hawks are known for their high-speed hunting abilities, and they can spot a potential prey from a considerable distance. Their stealthy stalking approach enables them to take their prey by surprise. Additionally, they hunt during the daytime, and they are active throughout the year.

On the other hand, eagles are mainly diurnal and, like hawks, hunt during the day. They, too, rely on their sharp vision to spot prey from long distances away, and their powerful talons are used to snag their prey out of the air. Eagles are also renowned for their visible hunting. They fly high above in the sky, and when they spot their prey, they dive downward at breakneck speeds, sometimes reaching speeds of up to 200 mph.


Another significant difference between these two birds of prey is their diet. Hawks feed on small game like mice, termites, rabbits, and other small rodents. They also eat insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. Conversely, eagles eat larger game, including fish, snakes, rabbits, and other small mammals. They often steal prey from other birds like ospreys or pelicans.

Breeding and Mating:

Hawks are solitary birds, and they mate for life. They build their nests in high perches or trees, and the nests are made up of sticks, leaves, and bark. Females lay two to four eggs, which both parents take turns incubating. The hatchlings remain with their parents for about six weeks before they begin to take flight and hunt on their own.

Eagles, on the other hand, are also monogamous and mate for life. They make their nests in high trees, cliffs or rocks, and the nests are bigger than hawk nests. Females lay one to three eggs, and she incubates them while the male brings food for her. The chicks hatch in about a month, and both parents take care of them until they are ready to fly.


Hawks and eagles are two of nature’s most majestic birds of prey, and they both possess unique features and behaviors that make them different from each other. They have different physical appearances, hunting methods, diets, mating habits, and habitats that determine their efficiency in the wild.

Despite their differences, they are both remarkable birds, with incredible abilities that have made them symbols of strength and power. If you’re lucky enough to see either of these birds in the wild, take a moment to appreciate the unique features and characteristics that make them so different and special.