Hawks are birds of prey, hunting birds, mammals, invertebrates, medium and large reptiles.
The prey may be up to half the weight of the raptor. The diet of different populations varies and depends on the surrounding area, but in general, they hunt hares, squirrels, grouse (Falcipennis spp), and grouse (Bonasa spp).
By nightfall, thousands and thousands of crows, geese, and rooks flock to a winter city park. All through the long fifteen-hour night (no matter how frosty or warm, blizzardy or starry), the blackbirds sit on the bare branches without moving. And almost every night somebody’s life is cut short by old wounds, by bird’s diseases, and a dead bird falls on the snow, not even having time to open its wings. At dawn, when the crows, as if in a panic flight, leave their sleeping place, a gray shadow of goshawk dashes among the empty crowns.
A black spot on the white snow is its prey. Having plucked a rook or a black-eyed bird, leaving only a scattering of dark feathers in its place, the hawk flies away with the carcass to the far corner of the park. And before the skiers’ voices can be heard in the lanes, the stuffed raptor will settle down on a comfortable branch and spend a short day of February in a half-dream. That is how, without shedding a single drop of blood, the most bird-catcher of bird-hunters can live the whole winter collecting birds that died not through his fault at all.
But in the nearest hunting lodge, the same hawk can literally ravage the grounds during the same winter, capturing all partridges in the outskirts and reckless jays in the forest. There is no escape for squirrels from their claws, and not even every hare has a chance to survive a meeting with this powerful predator. Such a hare will even tear off an owl’s head after having spied it on the branches of an oak tree that is not deciduous for winter; it will spy on pigeons and crows flying to and from their feeding grounds; it will not miss an opportunity to capture a woodpecker at work or a small predator, such as a weasel, that popped out in the snow during the day.
In summer grouse all alone catch only birds from a sparrow to a duck or a chicken. Even on hungry days, not a single hawk will allow itself to stoop to catching dragonflies and grasshoppers like birds of prey such as the buzzard. Goshawks are accustomed since childhood only to bird meat.
The manner of attacking one’s prey from an ambush and not in open pursuit, the birds’ preference for any other prey, the feathery raptor’s severe shape and stealth cannot evoke sympathy for him among those who have seen or at least know by hearsay about his “misdeeds and plunder, guile and bloodthirstiness”. But, as it turns out, the grouse is no more bloodthirsty than the noble falcons, and will never kill to make a supply. It is a bird hunter who, if he is full, doesn’t even want to look at the easiest and most delicious prey.
What do hawks eat (big and small)?
As we wrote above, hawks are incorrigible predators, the basis of their diet is smaller birds, small mammals, fish, frogs, snakes, can attack and eat even large insects. But their favorite food is the same feathered smaller birds: sparrows, finches, finches, kingfishers, thrushes, tits. Sometimes hawks can also attack larger woodpeckers, pheasants, pigeons, crows, parrots, and even prey on domestic chickens. Among the mammals that come to hawks for dinner are mice, rats, voles, squirrels, rabbits, and hares. But Japanese sparrow hawks sometimes even hunt bats.
During the hunt, cunning hawks first track down their prey and then attack it unexpectedly and swiftly. At the same time, hawks can catch both sitting and flying prey with equal dexterity. Grabbing it with its powerful paws, it strongly squeezes it while piercing it with its sharp claws. Then it eats its prey.
But what do little hawks eat? These young raptors eat worms, flies, and mosquitoes as treats.
Enemies of hawks
The lifespan of these birds in the wild can be up to 20 years, this, of course, provided they are not attacked by other raptors. And who eats hawks? Among those who want to eat hawk meat, the main ones are larger raptors. Any of them will be happy to eat the bird, but catching a feathered raptor is not so easy.
The main enemies are not so many, they are:
Wolves and foxes. They have the patience to stalk for a long time and wait for a convenient moment to attack.
Owls. These nocturnal birds can see perfectly well in the dark, so they are quite capable of sniffing out a sleepy hawk and letting it eat.
But other raptors can also pose a threat to it. The hawk is a cunning bird, and before it flies up to the nest, it loops and circles over the trees, obfuscating its tracks to prevent other carnivores from tracking down the location of the nest. This maneuver does not always work, so he may fly into a nest ravaged by small predators. But even here you have to be careful, because some carnivorous animals may well be waiting for the hawk at its former home.
The hawk should also beware of larger birds of prey. In the hawk family, they are not squeamish about snacking on congeners. Among feathered carnivores, eating each other is rampant. The stronger chicks in the nest, especially in case of food shortage, may well eat the weaker small relatives. Under unfavorable circumstances for the male, he may serve as food for the larger female. That is, whoever is weaker is eaten.
In pursuit of prey, hawks may behave recklessly and not notice obstacles in their way. Therefore, they may well crash into a tree or a building standing in their way. And a fallen and wounded bird becomes easy prey for any raptor.
One should not relax to a hawk, especially on the ground, because apart from various predators there are also snakes that do not mind feasting on a delicious bird. If a bird is injured or dead, there immediately appear those who like to eat dead birds, such as vultures.
The greatest danger to hawks is the man. In the mid-20th century, people declared persecution of hawks, because it was believed that they contribute to the extinction of certain species of birds that are hunted by people.
Gradually mankind begins to understand that the hawk is the sanitary of nature, without its existence the equilibrium of ecology would be disturbed. After all, most often his prey is those birds that the hawk spends little effort and energy to catch, that is, wounded or sick. Also, raptors regulate the number of rodents in the fields. The importance of hawks in the ecosystem is enormous.