What Eats Hawks? (6 Top Predators)

Hawks are tough animals that don’t have many natural enemies. Among the species that eat hawks are raccoons, red foxes, owls, larger hawks, eagles, and sometimes snakes.

Hawks usually find themselves at the top of the food chain, so they don’t have many natural predators. When these animals grow up, they’re almost impossible to catch and eat, even for skilled predators.

What Eats Hawks

But it’s when they’re young and small, and still incapable of flying when they’re vulnerable. That’s when various opportunistic species will look to pounce and eat the hawk, especially if the hawk nests are unprotected. Some climbing species are able to snatch eggs from these nests, too.

Let’s take a look at what animals eat hawks and how they do it.

What Eats Hawks? (6 Predators Explained!)

These are some of the rare animals that eat and hunt hawks.

1. Eagles

As already mentioned, larger and adult hawks are quite capable of defending themselves, and they’re almost impossible to catch. But one of the very few species that might challenge that dominance is the eagle.

These two species are direct competitors that will compete for the areal real estate. In the search for food, these two species like to challenge one another. This is why eagles often attack hawks, especially hawk nests. At times, eagles will even attack smaller hawks species, as well as immature hawks that can’t fly.

However, adult hawks and eagles will rarely eat each other. Attacks will happen quite often though, as one species attacks the nest of the other species, while the defending bird has to do everything it can to fend off its competitors. These fights usually end with injuries – which is when the injured adult hawk might become susceptible to predators.

2. Raccoons

Now, raccoons are not a direct threat to adult hawks. Rather, they’ll look for baby hawks, eggs, and egg nests for attacks. Raccoons are capable climbers, and they’ll spend hours and hours each day trying to find opportunities.

They like to attack nests very much, especially when they’re unprotected. And sometimes, the mother hawk leaves its nest unprotected, which may lead to raccoon attacks. For instance, raccoons will also attack eagle nests when they feel like they have an opportunity to do so.

However, these attacks don’t always end well for raccoons. They might think that a nest is unprotected when in reality, there’s a hawk protecting it. This is a video of a raccoon attack on an eagle nest, which is quite similar to attacks on hawk nests.

3. Red Foxes

Red foxes use similar mechanisms to raccoons. They’ll wait for their opportunity to strike, which might mean they’d have to wait for hours and hours before they pounce. Mostly, they’ll attack nests, baby hawks, and eggs.

However, red foxes have been known for attacking smaller hawks, too. They feel confident against the smaller hawks because they’re not good fliers still, and they’re also not as prepared for attacks as adult hawks are.

And hawks are like ultralight aircraft – extremely agile and fast, but also vulnerable if attacked or damaged. So hawks protect themselves by being out of reach, high up in the air. But just one small bite can cause them to start bleeding, which might leave them vulnerable to predators, so they might get eaten. That’s how red foxes try and kill smaller hawk species.

4. Larger Hawks

As we’ve already mentioned, larger hawks are able to easily establish dominance where they fly. But smaller hawks are still not strong enough to be able to escape attacks from larger hawks. Some hawk species are also smaller than others, which might lead to potential attacks from larger hawks.

As raptors, they’re very capable of protecting themselves against smaller birds. But larger hawks are highly skilled and experienced, which leads the smaller and younger hawks to be unable to escape larger hawk attacks.

And when there are food shortages in their habitats, they have no other choice but to attack smaller hawks, which can be a good source of food when there’s no other food around.

5. Owls

Owls are one of the very rare animals that are capable of challenging the hawk, especially at night. That’s when their senses are high, while hawks rely on day vision in order to catch their prey.

For that reason, hawks might just switch off their focus at night, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. And owls are one of the very few night species that actively attack when most other bird species are resting.

Owls focus on baby hawks and their eggs, though. Rarely you’ll see an owl attacking an adult hawk – but it can also happen if the hawk is unprepared.

6. Snakes

Snakes rely on the moments when hawks relax and leave their nests unattended. Even though they won’t necessarily harm the adult hawks, they’re very capable of disturbing their nests and their younglings.

Some snake species, especially the more agile ones, will climb trees and actively seek out bird nests in the hope of finding something to eat. They’re normally silent and hidden predators, so they’re quite hard for the hawks to spot.

Yes, hawks will also attack snakes, especially out in the open where snakes are not able to protect themselves. But the reverse scenario can also happen. Snakes attack their abandoned nests and steal eggs, younglings, and may even harm adult hawks if they’re not careful with their poison, which might kill them.

How Do Hawks Defend Themselves?

Hawks are fully capable of defending against potential attacks when they find themselves grounded and protecting their nests. They have very strong talons and a sharp beak, which are strong enough to harm almost any other animal.

When they breed and hatch eggs, they will constantly be around their nests and protect them. But when they’re out and about, they fly so high that almost no other species is able to attack them as they fly. This means hawks are at the top of the food chain, and adult hawks don’t have many natural predators.

Baby hawks, on the other hand, still can’t fly. When they learn how to fly, they become adult hawks and leave their nests. But until that happens, they’re reliant on the protection of their parents.

That’s why hawks need to build sturdy and strong nests, especially nests with high barriers. These can prevent potential predators from entering the nest, but even that is sometimes not enough. This means that nests need the constant presence of an adult hawk, so they need to balance their time protecting the nest and finding food for the younglings.


Hawks are at the top of the food chain, so they don’t have many natural predators. Adult hawks are especially safe against potential attacks, although they might get caught off-guard and get harmed. When that happens, almost any animal large enough can kill it and eat it.

It’s a different story for baby hawks and nests, though. These get attacked pretty often, and by various animals that are good climbers like raccoons, snakes, and red foxes, as well as by owls and eagles that will be constantly lurking and try to steal young hawks and hawk eggs.

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