How often do hawks eat?

In this brief article we will answer the query, “How often do hawks eat?” We will explain what hawks eat and what affects their eating schedule. We will also briefly discuss what time of the day hawks have a preference for eating.

How often do hawks eat?

There are many factors that affect how often hawks eat; however, hawks have been said to eat for one to three days depending on the size of the prey. Hawks consume about 12 percent to 15 percent of their weight.

Some of the factors that affect how often they eat are age, young hawks tend to eat a whole lot more than the adults because they are still developing and need to grow. Other factors are the hawk’s weight and the availability of prey.

If there are plenty of prey, some hawks can eat as much as 8 small birds in a day and others can just consume 1 medium sized bird.

Weight is the biggest determinant of how much a hawk eats. The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest known hawk and consumes about 180 grams of meat in a single day.

What do hawks eat?

Hawks are birds of prey which means that they are carnivores and hunt down animals or eat carrion (dead animals). Hawks usually reside in different habitats and therefore different types of hawks do have different diets.

However, there are some diets that seem to cut across for any hawks species despite their habitats. Most hawks usually feed on small animals such as 

  • Hares
  • Squirrels
  • Rabbits
  • Sparrows
  • Pigeons
  • Chipmunks
  • Mourning dove
  • Titmice
  • Gophers
  • Prairie dogs
  • Rodents such as mice, rats and voles
  • Amphibians such as salamanders and frogs
  • Reptiles such as turtles, lizards and snakes.
  • Various insects

Hawks have well developed talons which assist them to scoop up their prey. However, hawks cannot scoop and carry any animal that outweighs them. A regular home backyard has animals that weigh between 1 to 3 pounds so they cannot get away with scooping an adult cat or dog.

What affects a hawk eating schedule?

As earlier mentioned there are a no. of factors that affect a hawk’s eating schedule but the most dominant ones are the size of the prey and also the size of the hawk. If a hawk is large in size, it will eat more and also a small sized prey provides hawks with less energy.

Let’s take a deeper look.

The size of the prey

In order to eat to satisfaction, a hawk requires to capture a large enough prey or many small prey that it can feed on.

A large animal automatically provides a hawk with more food as well as more energy, this is because consuming more meat provides them with more energy which keeps them fuller for longer.

If in their habitat, there are big birds such as ducks and pigeons, hawks will hunt down these animals. If the most available prey are the smaller birds, hawks will tend to eat more frequently to meet their energy requirements

The size of the Hawk

It goes without saying that the bigger the hawk gets, the more food it requires to consume. This as well applies to animals and humans. This is because your energy requirements tend to increase with age and you move more around.

Therefore, bigger hawks require to eat more food than the smaller hawks to meet their energy demands.

What time of the day do hawks eat?

Hawks are usually active around 3 hours after the sun rises and 2- 3 hours before the sun sets. Hawks are diurnal raptors, which means they are more active during the day. Hawks’ most active times are at dawn and dusk, this is because the weather tends to be much cooler at these times.

Birds of prey usually have different feeding times with some feeding at night time especially those that can see better at night such as owls

Also, different parts of the day may be preferred by different hawks. When it’s warm, hawks usually set out in the early morning and when it’s cold they’ll wait until it’s warm later in the day and then set out.


In this brief article we have answered the query, “How often do hawks eat?” We have explained what hawks eat and what affects their eating schedule. We have also briefly discussed what time of the day hawks have a preference of eating.


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