Hawks are powerful birds of prey, capable of diving down at 100+ miles per hour to hit their target, kill it, and carry it off to their nests.
Their incredible vision and strong beaks make them impressive predators, and enable them to take down many types of prey. In the end, do hawks eat coyotes?
Table of Contents
- Hawks Are Too Small To Take Down A Coyote
- Some hawks May Be Able To Take Down Coyotes
- Eagles Can Easily Take Down Coyotes
- Hawks won’t Eat Coyotes, But They May Hurt Coyotes
- Do Coyotes Eat Hawks?
Hawks Are Too Small To Take Down A Coyote
Due to their size, most hawks are simply too small to take down a coyote, however, they will graze on a coyote carcass if they get the chance to do so, and have been filmed harassing and even fighting with coyotes.
Hawks come in various sizes depending on the species, ranging from 1 to 2 feet in length. In general, they don’t target prey that is much larger than themselves.
They can’t fly with anything that weighs much more than they do, and the largest hawk in North America (the ferruginous hawk) only weighs 3.3 lbs, which is no match for a coyote.
But that doesn’t exclude coyote meat from their diet. As opportunistic carnivores, hawks will feast on prey remains and other animal carcasses they find. This includes dead coyotes.
If a hawk tries to snag a live animal as large as a coyote, it’s probably not thinking straight.
Many sources have shown that hawks have accidentally tried to take down medium-sized prey, such as pet dogs. In most cases, the hawk leaves the animal alone after it realizes its size difference!
Related: Can Goats Defend Themselves Against Coyotes?
Some hawks May Be Able To Take Down Coyotes
Mature ferruginous hawks and red-tailed hawks are large enough to target small coyotes. Some can carry and fly off with up to 5 lbs in weight.
Young coyote pups, then, are vulnerable to becoming prey to a hungry hawk – assuming the hawk can get past its protective parents.
An adult coyote weighs around 30 to 50 lbs, so they’re safe from being carried off by a hawk. But a hawk could still potentially attack a coyote from above until it weakens and collapses, then begin eating its prey.
But this takes a lot of effort on the bird’s part, and hawks are not known to do this with coyotes.
Eagles Can Easily Take Down Coyotes
Eagles are larger than hawks and can target larger prey, including coyotes. Golden eagles, which weigh 6 to 13 lbs, can’t fly off with a whole adult coyote but are more capable of killing them for food.
There are a few records of golden eagles attacking and killing coyotes.
In a report from the Raptor Research Foundation, a golden eagle chases and repeatedly hits an adult male coyote on its back, knocking it down, until the coyote collapses. The eagle then feasts on the coyote.
Even for an eagle this behavior is rare. Despite being larger than hawks, they also target smaller mammals, and will only go after deer or coyotes if other prey is limited.
Hawks won’t Eat Coyotes, But They May Hurt Coyotes
With their sharp talons and large beaks made for shredding flesh, hawks can still inflict damage on a coyote even if they cannot carry it off as food.
This can come in handy as they sometimes compete with coyotes over prey remains and may defensively attack coyotes if they pass below their nests during hatching season.
Often, hawks can get feisty with coyotes if they are in their territory. In fact, there are many online videos showing this exact phenomenon.
Do Coyotes Eat Hawks?
Although coyotes can catch small mammals and birds, they do not hunt hawks. But, like hawks, they are opportunistic eaters, so they will certainly eat a dead or injured hawk if they come across one.
Hawks are too small to kill and eat coyotes. But if they come across a dead coyote, they will eat whatever meat is left.
Larger birds such as eagles are able to actually attack and kill coyotes as prey, but coyotes are large enough to be uncommon prey for any bird.