Difference Between Eagle vs Hawk

Difference Between Eagle vs Hawk

Today is all about determining the difference between eagle and hawk for the discerning bird of prey lover who has been wondering what sets these two magnificent winged creatures apart from one another.

We’re going to dive into the exact definition of each bird in conjunction with providing you with a quick reference table that quickly summarizes the key areas of differentiation between them so that you can come back for a quick refresh any time you get lost. Ready to find out more? Simply spread your wings and fly onwards.

Definition of Eagle

The definition of Eagle is: “A bird originating in the old world that has short legs and a rough and spiny coat, capable of rolling itself into a ball in order to defend itself.”

Despite them both being birds of prey, there are quite a few differences between these two winged creatures. Hawks are classed as being a medium sized bird of prey, but next to an eagle, they look very small.

Eagles have a much bigger wingspan and their bodies are much denser due to them having a significantly larger degree of musculature. This is to equip them for the larger prey they tend to catch compared to hawks.

We can also separate an eagle vs hawk when we look at their facial structure and claws. Eagles have much more prominent beaks that have a yellow and black appearance in conjunction with significantly bigger claws and talons. In many ways, when looking at a hawk, almost every physical attribute they possess is upscaled with an eagle simply due to its larger size.

Definition of Hawk

The definition of hawk is: “A medium-sized bird of prey that typically resides in tree tops and features an all-black beak and excellent eyesight.”

When reading the above description we already have another fact to help us separate the difference between hawk and eagle thanks to the behavioural and hunting traits of the hawk. Not only do they reside in tree tops, but this is also their preferred hunting position. Once they have spotted their prey, a hawk will dive down from atop a tree canopy to take their target by surprise. By comparison, an eagle hunts in flight and doesn’t rely on surprise.

Hawks also hunt during the day, which is partly why their vision is so keen (they can see up to 20 feet ahead of them.) Eagles are mainly nocturnal and hunt their prey at night. This helps them to get the upper hand on prey as the darkness provides some natural cover, meaning that their approach doesn’t have to rely on surprise as much as it does with that of the hawk.

Though one (the eagle) may initially just seem like a bigger version of a hawk, it’s clear to see that there is a great deal more to consider with the eagle vs hawk comparison than you may originally have thought. Their visual and behavioural differences are significant.

Main Differences Between Eagle vs Hawk

We’ll now provide you with a quick reference table that’ll help you easily summarize the difference between these two birds of prey at a quick glance.

Basis of Comparison:EagleHawk
Type of beak:Black with yellow detailAll black
When does it hunt:At nightDuring the day
Level of strength:Very strongWeaker than an eagle
Sounds like:Makes a low pitch screechMakes a high pitch screech
Average life span:30 + yearsAround 13 – 20 years
Typical prey:Small mammals / reptiles and fishInsects / small animals / mammals
Typically resides:North America, Alaska, worldwideCentral America
Wingspan:5 feet on averageTypically around 9 feet

Difference Between Eagle and Hawk: Conclusion

After reading today’s post, we hope that you now feel well-equipped to tell these two birds apart from one another. Come back to our quick reference table should you ever get lost on this subject again, and just remember: eagles are much bigger than hawks and have larger wingspans. If you remember this, you can always tell them apart.