If you’re new to the world of birding, you may be curious about the eating habits of hawks, such as how they hunt and what they eat.
There are many little critters that become prey to hawks come meal time, but which animals are on the menu? For instance, do hawks eat badgers? If you’d like to find out, keep reading below!
Do Hawks Hunt and Eat Badgers?
Do hawks eat badgers? Yes, on occasion. However, these falcons typically prefer to eat small prey, such as rodents or birds, contrasting badgers, which are relatively large and aggressive animals.
Badgers are not an easy target for most predators, and while there have been a few reported cases of hawks killing these animals, it’s generally not a common occurrence.
In most cases, it’s likely that the hawk was simply trying to defend itself from the badger, won the battle, and ended up with a meal as a reward.
So, while it is possible for hawks to eat badgers, it’s not something that happens on a regular basis, as these birds prefer eating critters that are easier to snatch.
What Do Hawks Eat?
As we’ve determined, badgers aren’t a regular feast for hawks. So what do they like to eat?
Hawks are apex predators, who belong to a somewhat looser group of raptors, often referred to as birds of prey. In other words, Hawks are generally carnivorous and like to eat animal-based meals, giving them many options come feeding time.
Given the huge range of prey available and an equally vast ecological scope – not to mention viciously hooked beaks, razor-sharp talons, and being famous for their eyes – it’s no surprise that hawks consume such a wide range of foods.
Listed below are the bugs, reptiles, and critters that hawks are commonly found eating:
Insects and Invertebrates
Bugs and fish are very common foods in the diet of a hawk. Swainson’s hawks, for example – slender mid-sized buteos that spend the winter in Argentina and the summer in North America’s western region – consume a wide range of insects throughout the year, including grasshoppers and crickets.
Terrestrial invertebrates aren’t the only members of this species that face danger, too- but so do aquatic ones. For instance, red-shouldered hawks have been seen snatching crayfish from the water, while both swamp harriers and Fiji goshawks have been documented catching prawns.
Snakes, Lizards, and Other Reptiles
Slithery reptiles are also a staple in the diets of many hawks. In certain regions, red-shouldered hawks consume about a third of their diet comprised of such cold-blooded food items as turtles.
However, hawks should beware- bites of venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, that these birds apparently target as prey have been known to kill two very numerous North American species – the red-tailed hawk and Cooper’s hawk.
That said, such deaths are probably more common among young and/or inexperienced birds, so elder hawks are likely safer when trying to obtain such prey!
Small animals, such as mice, shrews, rabbits, hares, pikas, and others form the dietary foundation for a variety of hawks throughout the world! For instance, in North America, cottontail rabbits may account for up to half of a red-tailed hawk’s diet.
Falcons like rough-legged hawks are famous for their intense predation of tiny animals, particularly lemmings and ground squirrels, which they eat on both their high-Arctic breeding grounds and wintering areas.
Further, the ferruginous hawk, which is found across western North America, mainly targets mammals, such as prairie dogs, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and others.
In fact, in the boreal forest of North America, the northern goshawk is one of the most important hare predators!
What Type Of Hawk Eats Badgers?
While most hawks are opportunistic predators, feeding on whatever small animals they can catch, there are a few species of hawks that specialize in hunting large prey.
The largest of these is the ferruginous hawk, which is known to hunt everything from badgers to bunnies.
These sharp-eyed predators can spot their prey from great heights and are capable of flying at speeds up to 50 miles per hour when diving for their dinner.
So, if you see a ferruginous hawk hovering overhead, be sure to keep an eye out for any badgers that might be caught in its sights!
Do Hawks Eat Baby Badgers?
While badgers are relatively large animals, well-known for their fighting ability, there have been a few reports of hawks preying on badgers. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that hawks would go after baby badgers, especially considering their smaller size.
Do Hawks Eat Dead Badgers?
Do hawks eat dead badgers? This is a question that has puzzled many people, especially those who live near wooded areas where these two animals are common.
The answer, it turns out, is both yes and no. Hawks are opportunistic feeders, and they will eat just about anything that crosses their paths.
This includes small mammals like rodents and rabbits, as well as larger prey like deer. Dead badgers fall into this latter category, meaning hawks will occasionally eat them.
However, badgers aren’t a preferred food source for hawks, so if you see one eating a dead badger, it’s probably because there wasn’t anything else around to feed on.