Differences between Hawk and Owl

Hawk Hawk
Owl Owl

Hawk and Owl are two classes of birds that belong to the Accipitridae and Tytonidae families respectively.

Hawk is a bird of prey. It is intelligent, strong, and powerful. Its talons are sharp and curved, while its beak is hooked and tough. The bird has superior vision, intense hearing, and muscular legs. The back of a Hawk is typically darker brown, while its belly and tail are lighter brown. The wings are large with black and white designs. Although Hawks are classified in the Accipitridae family, the name Hawk is also applied to birds in the Falconidae family. There are over 200 species in the Hawk family.

Owl is a large nocturnal bird. It has a round and flat face with hooked beaks, static eyes, and large ears. Its neck is flexible and can turn over 180 degrees on both sides. This allows the bird to look around and backward even with its fixed eyes. The bird cannot see color but its visual clarity is sharp. Its ears are asymmetrical but acute in discerning sounds from different dimensions. Owl is commonly seen standing in upright position. Its plumage is soft and heavy. The color varies for different species, from grey to brown to reddish brown. The plumage mostly have markings on them, camouflaging the owl amidst dense foliage. The fossils of owls are dated back to over 65.5 million years. At present, there are about 250 species in the Owl family.

Where are Hawk and Owl found?

Hawks prefer deserts and large fields. They are native to North America. However, since they adapt easily, they are found in mountains, grasslands, rainforests, savannas, and coasts. The exist in all parts of the world except Antarctica.

Owls live in diverse habitats such as forests, mountains, plains, and deserts. The Snowy Owl lives in the frigid regions of North Pole. Species like Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl can be found in cities. Owls can be found in all countries of the world except Antarctica.

What do Hawk and Owl eat?

Hawks are carnivores. They eat insects, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Their diet largely depends on the biological diversity in their location. They are proficient hunters that grab their prey with their talons and tear them apart with their beak.

Owls are carnivorous birds. Their diet depends on food sources in their environment. Owls eat insects, rodents, crabs, snails, small birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

Here are a few pointers about the eating patterns between Hawk and Owl

  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Fish.
  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Frogs.
  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Lizards.
  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Snakes.
  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Turtles.
  • Both Hawk and Owl eat Squirrels.
  • Gophers are commonly eaten by Hawk, but not by all Owl.
  • Baby Ducks are consumed by both Hawkand Owl.
  • Mice are eaten by both Hawk and Owl.

Size of Hawk and Owl?

When it comes to size, Hawk species exist in different sizes. Sharp-shinned Hawk, one of the smallest of the species, measures 0.9-1.2 feet with a wingspan of 1.9-2.2 feet. Ferruginous Hawk is among the larger species with a length of 1.6-2.2 feet and a wingspan of four to five feet.. The owls measure 0.4-2.3 feet in length with a wingspan of 1-6.6 feet. Elf Owl, which is the smallest in the family, is about 0.5 feet tall. Blakiston Fish Owl, the largest Owl species, is 2.3 feet tall.

The weight of Hawks varies depending on the species. The Sharp-shinned Hawk weighs about 2.9-4.1 pounds. On the other hand, Ferruginous Hawk – the largest Hawk species, weighs 32-80 pounds. while The weight of Owls varies for different species. Elf Owl weighs about 1.5 ounce, while the large North American Owl weighs about 8.8 pounds.

Where do Hawk and Owl nest?

Hawks usually build their nests on top of tall trees or in the ledges of cliffs. In cities, they create their nests on windowsills, rooftops, and billboards. The male and female partners together build the nest with sticks, moss, and plant material prior to the onset of the mating season. The partners incubate the eggs for 25-32 days. They tend to the young ones and feed them for about six weeks. Although the chicks will be able to fly after six weeks, they remain with their parents till they are about six months old.

Owls do not build nests. They use holes in trees, quiet places in barns and buildings, caves, natural cavities in river banks, and nests of other birds to lay their eggs. The female Owl starts incubating the eggs when the first one is laid. She lays eggs two to three days apart. Consequently, the eggs do not hatch synchronously. In the nesting season, the female develops additional feathers, called brood patch, on her belly to provide warmth during incubation. The eggs hatch 32 days after incubation. The young ones fledge when they are six to eight weeks old.

How long do Hawk and Owl live?

The average lifespan of hawks in the wild is 12-20 years. They live longer in captivity. The longest-lived Hawk died at 30 years and eight months in February 2011 in Michigan, USA.

The average lifespan of Owls in the wild is five to 12 years. Larger Owls may live longer, sometimes up to 25 years. The oldest Owl, which was a female Great Horned Owl, turned 50 years in 2012. She lived in captivity at the San Francisco Zoo.

Are Hawk or Owl migratory birds?

Hawks have different migrating patterns. Some of them migrate in autumns, while some travel in spring. Further, the time when they start migrating also depends on the distance they must travel. The bird that reaches the migrating site first gets improved access to food sources and better preference to choose a mate. The direction in which Hawks migrate depends on the direction of wind. However, typically Hawks from Canada migrate to central and southern USA in winters. Sparrow Hawks from Russia, China, and Japan travel to warmer regions in India, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Not all Owl species are migratory. Some relocate to warmer regions during winters. However, some Owls remain in their territories even in winters. The Great Gray Owl and the Great Horned Owl of Canada are resident species. The Snowy Owl that lives in the North Pole migrates to Canada and USA during winters. In Europe, the Scops Owls migrates to the tip of the Sahara Desert. The Short-Eared Owl is another migratory Owl from India that travels long distances, sometimes even crossing oceans.

Do Hawk and Owl fly in flocks?

A flock of Hawks is called a kettle or a cast. Hawks are generally solitary birds. They come together only during the mating season. They also flock in large numbers during migration to conserve energy and take advantage of thermals.

A group of Owls is called a parliament. Owls are extreme loners and prefer solitary existence. They rarely flock aside the breeding season. They sometimes roost in small groups or in pairs for warmth in cold temperatures.

Are Hawk or Owl protected?

Hawks are protected in most parts of the world like the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, and the UK. Harming the bird or its nest is punishable in these countries.

Owls are protected in most countries like the USA, UK, India, Canada, and Japan. They do not enjoy protection in some countries, while in some others only the endangered species are protected.

Are Hawk or Owl endangered?

Generally speaking, Hawks are not endangered. However, some species are at risk. For instance, the Ridgway’s Hawk from Dominican Republic is the most critically endangered of all species. The Red-shouldered Hawk in New Jersey is another endangered Hawk species. Ferruginous Hawks are listed as threatened in Canada.

Some species of Owls are endangered and face threat of extinction. These include Pernambuco Pygmy Owl, Siau Scops Owl, Forest Owl, Moheli Scops Owl, Congo Bay Owl, and Long-Whiskered Owlet. The population of Owls is threatened by loss of habitat, lack of food sources, hunting, and climate change.

Can Hawk and Owl fly?

Hawks are skilled flyers. They can fly at a speed of 150 miles per hour while diving. They can soar at altitudes of up to 3,280 feet above sea level. During migration, the birds travel thousands of miles, covering about 1,000 mile a day. Hawks usually fly solitarily. However, to conserve energy during migration or to maintain thermals they may fly in large groups.

Owls are known to fly without making any sound. The comb-like design on the edges of their feathers and their large wings enable them to fly noiselessly. They fly slowly, without flapping their wings too much. Some species of Owls fly at a speed of just two miles an hour, while the faster species can reach 40 miles per hour.

Can Hawk and Owl swim?

Hawks do not swim. They do not have webbed feet required for swimming. They dive into water to capture their prey.

Owls are not natural swimmers. They do not have webbed feet. However, they can manage to swim if they happen to accidentally fall in water.

Mating patterns among Hawk and Owl

Hawks start mating when they are two to three years old. In the mating season, the male and female birds indulge in courtship and aerial dances. They soar up and fly in circles, gliding to the ground while clutching each other. They also give out calls during courtship and nesting. The clutch size depends on the species. The female Hawk lays one to five eggs that vary in size for different species. Both partners involve themselves in feeding and protecting the young ones.

Owls start mating when they are two to three years old. During the mating season, the male and female Owls perform mating dances. They also hoot mating calls that boost their bond and keep away other Owls from their territory. The male may get a prey as offering to the female to woo her. In some species, partners may engage in giggling and snapping of bills as part of mating ritual. The female may lay one to 15 eggs in a breeding season, however not all at once. It is her responsibility to lay eggs, incubate and hatch them. Once the chicks are born, the male may fetch food for them and give it to the female.

When is the mating season for Hawk and Owl ?

The mating season for Hawks is March-May every year. It is the time of spring in most parts of the world.

The mating season for Owls is generally spring every year. However, some species mate during winter months.

Do Hawk and Owl mate for life?

Hawks are mostly monogamous. They mate for life, however come together only during mating, nesting, and caring for young ones. They are not known to hunt or live together.

Owls are devoted partners. They mate for life. They also use the same nesting site year after year.

How do Hawk and Owl sleep?

Hawks sleep at night with their heads buried in their backs. They sleep on high trees amidst thick leaves and branches to keep themselves warm. During breeding, the female bird sleeps in the nest.

Owls are nocturnal birds. They sleep either on trees or on the ground while standing and keeping their eyes closed. Most species are awake during the night when they hunt. They mostly sleep during the day.

Can Hawk and Owl be eaten?

Most cultures have avoided eating Hawk meat. In existing times, killing Hawks is prohibited by law. However, some tribes in countries like USA can obtain a permit to eat the wild bird.

Humans are not known to have consumed Owls. The birds do not have much meat on them. Their taste is known to be unpalatable.

Can you hunt Hawk or Owl?

Hawks were hunted in ancient times for their feathers and falconry. In fact, falconry is still practiced in many countries. This is despite existence of laws to protect the bird.

Owls are typically not hunted. Only in cases when they cause trouble, people hunt them or capture them and release them in the wild. Hunting or harming Owls is not allowed in many countries.

Can you feed Hawk or Owl?

In captivity or under falconers, Hawks are fed chickens, rodents, and meat. Owning and feeding hawks requires special permit in some countries, while feeding them in public is also not allowed everywhere.

Most countries do not permit owning or feeding of Owls. In captivity, the birds are fed rodents, chicken, meat, and worms.