Difference Between Hawk and Eagle (With Table)

There are various types of birds in this universe belonging to various classes or families. One of the families is Accipitriformes or also known as birds of prey. These birds include those kinds of birds who predominantly hunt and feed on animals/mammals that are large as comparative to the birds.

Hawk and eagle are common birds of prey.

Hawk vs Eagle

The main difference between hawk and eagle lies in their attribute and strength. Hawk is a small bird of prey and has less power than an eagle, but eagle is a large bird of prey with stronger power.

However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the birds on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table Between Hawk and Eagle (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of Comparison



Description of bird

Medium size birds with long tails and acute vision

Large sized birds with massive curved beaks


Smaller size

Largest in size among the birds of prey

How does the size help the bird

Helps travel faster

Facilitates the bird to survive in multiple regions and lift the prey


Strength is less compared to an eagle

More powerful as the size is big combined with strong claws and sturdy legs


Smaller and short-rounded

Larger in size

Body colour

Back is grey or red brown
Feathers are white
Beak is dark-colored

Back is black
Feathers are brown
Beak is yellow


High-frequency cry

Produces narrow cries

Special qualities

Eye-sight, hunting abilities, longer tail

Powerful build, able to lift extremely large preys

Common species include

Sharp-shinned hawks, goshawks, sparrowhawks, red-tailed hawk, cooper’s hawk, ferruginous hawk

Golden eagle, bald eagle, harpy eagle, crowned eagle

Example of largest species

Ferruginous hawk

Steller’s Sea eagle

In which regions/places of the world ordinarily found

Fields, deserts, Central America

Everywhere in the world, bald eagles normally in Alaska, North America

Techniques used in hunting the prey

Hide in the trees, attack the prey with surprise

Fly and hunt their prey in the air and carry it in the claws

Hunting during night time


Mostly during day

Where are the nests built

Nests of sticks on trees

Nests on tall trees and high cliffs

Eggs laid

More; 2 to 7

Usually 2

Type of Prey

Prey on small birds, voles, mice, rats, large insects and squirrels

Prey is larger, which includes snakes, mammals, waterfowls, muskrats, fish, turtles


around 20 to 30 years

around 20 to 40 years


What is Hawk?

Hawk is a medium size bird of prey. Hawk has long tails, honed beaks, tough horny nails and curved beaks. Hawk can vary in colour depending on the species but will mostly be reddish brown on top with black claws.

Hawk has spectacular attributes which include acute vision and ability to travel very quickly.  Hawk may see a thing which is around more than 20 feet from it with strong exactness.

Hawk has multiple species which may be around 250 plus. Hawk has an average lifespan between 20 to 30 years. Hawk comes under the category of  endangered species because they are rare due to human activities such as poaching.

Hawk is commonly found in deserts, forests and parts of Central America and polar regions. Hawk can feed on multiple preys such as snakes, small birds, rabbits, lizards etc.

The technique adopted by hawk in catching and killing the prey includes hiding in the trees just before night, springing in with surprise and using its talons to kill the prey.


What is Eagle?

Eagle is a large bird of prey with muscular power, and brown or golden in colour. Eagle has a large wingspan, bent talons and hooked jaws.

Eagle has got spectacular features which include strong feet, ability to prey and carry large prey, acute eyesight, fibrous body, and feathered legs. Eagle can carry the prey over long distances in the air and even grab it without even landing.

Eagle may have around 75 plus species and are commonly found in almost all regions of the world. Eagle will be commonly found in Africa, Europe and Asia with a small number in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Eagle will normally feed on prey such as snakes, mammals. The technique adopted by eagle for killing the prey includes biting it at the neck back and gulping it down in entirety. Eagle can really fly very high and combined with its very powerful build and strength is able to catch the prey easily.

Main Differences Between Hawk and Eagle

  1. Hawk is usually small in size, but this helps the hawk in travelling faster. Eagle is big in size, which enables it to survive in various regions and lift heavy prey.
  2. Hawk is of grey, reddish-brown on back, with white feathers and dark-coloured beak. Eagle will have brown feathers and a beak which is light in colour or shade.
  3. Hawk is less powerful because of its size. Eagle is stronger because of large size and wings, herculean talons and heavy legs.
  4. Hawk will prey on smaller birds, rats, squirrels and attacking/catching with surprise. Eagle will prefer prey such as mammals, deer, turtles, and snakes hunting and carrying in air.
  5. Hawk produces piping howling noise. Eagle produces subtle screams.
  6. Hawk has more species. Eagle has less species.



The best way as suggested by bird experts to identify whether a bird of prey is an eagle or hawk is to see their size and colour. Eagle is a bird of larger size and muscular build compared to a hawk. However, it may be difficult to identify, especially because both of them have multiple species which tend to have differing characteristics.

Most people believe that an eagle is stronger than a hawk as eagle is larger in size than a hawk. That may be a valid proposition. However, for humans it should not matter because both hawk and eagle are dangerous because both are wild birds of prey.



  1. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/jrr/v032n02/p00143-p00150.pdf
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2307/1350773
  3. https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/mitani/wp-content/uploads/sites/152/2014/08/sanders_et_al_2003.pdf