Hawks are one of the top predators of squirrels. They hunt and eat both live and dead ones.
There are three types of hawks that commonly prey on squirrels: Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and red-tailed hawk.
Red-tailed hawks are the most common predator of Squirrels with approximately 80% percent of their diet consisting of small rodents such as squirrels.
We will explore in this blog how and why hawks hunt and eat squirrels and how to protect your backyard from these predators.
Do Hawks Eat Squirrels?
Every year, millions of squirrels are born. Many end up as prey for some of the world’s most skilled predators, such as hawks.
Hawks help control squirrel populations by eating them.
While hawks will eat any type of squirrel, they seem to prefer larger species like red and fox squirrels. A hawk can consume three times its own body weight in squirrels each day.
Although this may not seem like a lot, it’s less than what other raptors, such as eagles and owls can eat.
In spite of that fact, hawks still have a significant impact on squirrel populations; their hunting skills help to keep these populations healthy and balanced.
Why Do Hawks Attack Squirrels?
Hawks typically attack smaller animals for a few reasons: one, it’s easier to prey on an animal that is easily found in the immediate vicinity.
This is especially true if the hawk is young and lacks experience hunting.
Additionally, attacking smaller creatures requires less energy than attacking larger ones; thus, the hawk can preserve its energy for other activities like flying and nesting.
Lastly, hawks go after squirrels because they are a good food source–squirrels are small enough to make a good meal for a hawk but not too hard to catch.
There are many reasons why hawks target squirrels; they’re easy to find due to their wide array of habitats, and they make for a quick meal when the hawk is hungry.
What Kind Of Hawks Eat Squirrels?
If you’ve ever wondered what kind of hawks eat squirrels, the answer is three types of hawks:
- Cooper’s hawk
- Sharp-shinned hawk
- Red-tailed hawk
Of the three, red-tailed hawk eats the most squirrels–approximately 80% of their diet.
All three types of hawks are carnivorous, meaning they only eat meat.
Hawks hunt by sight, so they look for movement before swooping down to catch their prey with their talons.
Once they’ve caught their prey, they take it back to their nest to eat or tear it apart and eat on the wing.
While squirrels might not be the easiest prey to catch, they are a good source of food for these predators.
Do Hawks Eat Dead and Alive Squirrels?
Hawks are birds that typically eat other animals–they hunt them down and kill them.
This type of hunting is called “predation.”
However, if there’s no fresh food available, they will also eat dead animals (“carrion”).
Live prey is better for a few reasons: it’s easier to catch; hawks prefer the taste of fresh meat; and physically, eating live prey helps keep hawks in good condition. If all a hawk eats is carrion (dead prey), eventually, he won’t be able to hunt well anymore and may starve to death. So while Hawks will eat dead squirrels when they have to, whenever possible, they would rather go after a live one.
Do Hawks Eat Tree and Ground Squirrels?
Hawks are diurnal animals that use their great eyesight to look for food during the day.
Tree and ground squirrels also become active in the daytime to search for food, so hawks commonly prey on them since they’re easier to find then.
Usually, hawks eat small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews. But they will also consume birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Hawks’ diets differ based on both the hawk species and how much available prey exists in its environment.
The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most prevalent North American hawks and it scavenges on various small mammals, rabbits, for example, hares, gophers, chipmunks and ground squirrels.
The Red-tailed Hawk will also feed off birds such as pigeons, doves chickens and ducks.
Hawks usually prefer to devour small prey they can kill with their talons but if larger prey is present they won’t hesitate to go after that instead.
Do Hawks Eat Flying Squirrels?
Hawks typically hunt during the day for smaller prey like rodents, reptiles, and birds.
However, because flying squirrels are nocturnal animals that only come out at night to look for food, it’s unlikely hawks would ever run into them in the wild.
In fact, there have been few documented cases of hawks preying on flying squirrels successfully. So while a hawk could theoretically kill and eat a flying squirrel if given the chance, it’s not something that commonly happens in nature.
How Do Hawks Hunt Squirrels?
Hawks are one of the most feared predators in the animal kingdom. Thanks to their keen eyesight, powerful flight, and magical talons, they can take down prey much larger than themselves. But how do these magnificent birds hunt squirrels?
Hawks have remarkable eyesight. They can spot a squirrel from more than a mile away and zero in on it with pinpoint accuracy. This allows them to strike without being seen and gives them a huge advantage over their prey.
Hawks are incredibly agile flyers. They can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and change direction in an instant. This makes it very difficult for a squirrel to escape once a hawk has targeted it.
Hawks have sharp talons that can slice through flesh and bone like a hot knife through butter. Once a squirrel has been grabbed by a hawk, there is little chance of escape. The only way to avoid becoming lunch is to stay out of sight!
In summary, hawks use their keen eyesight to spot a squirrel from a distance and then use their swift flight and powerful talons to capture the prey.
Do Hawks Raid Squirrel Nests?
Hawks are creatures that sit at the top of the food chain, which means they don’t have many predators.
This lack of natural predators allows hawks to be less selective in what they eat.
Although competition exists between different species of animals, hawks will sometimes steal prey from other nests, including squirrels, because it is an easy meal.
One common target for such theft is squirrels—small mammals known for their agility, intelligence, and resourcefulness.
In general, hawks eat adult squirrels but they also take the young and eggs in the nest.
That’s why squirrels always watch out for hawks and try to keep a distance from these predators.
- Related: 18 Predators! What Eats Squirrels?
How To Protect Your Backyard Squirrels?
Hawks preying on backyard squirrels are a common occurrence and can be dangerous for your petted friends.
A few easy measures will help preserve the security of your backyard squirrels from hawks.
To start, give lots of coverage for your squirrels to take refuge in. Thick bushes and trees are best since they provide more safety than thinner plants.
Second, don’t use pesticides around the yard, as they can sicken squirrels if eaten.
Lastly, while your squirrels are playing outside, be sure to keep an eye on the sky for any lurking hawks.
If you see one, chase it off immediately.
By following these easy steps, you can safeguard your backyard squirrels from their avian predators.
Do hawks eat squirrels? Yes, hawks are one of the top predators of squirrels and they typically hunt during the day for smaller prey like rodents, reptiles, and birds.
Hawks eat mainly tree and ground squirrels because they are all diurnal. Hawks seldom come across flying squirrels because they are nocturnal.
While squirrels are usual prey for hawks, there are a few tips to protect your backyard squirrels in your garden.