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Difference between Hawk and Falcon

Hawk and falcon both are birds of prey with hooked beaks. People often confuse these two birds as they look alike. Although they look similar from outside, they are many differences between them. Let us study these birds more closely to better understand how they differ from each other!


Hawk is one of the popular birds of prey. It belongs to the subfamily, Accipitridae. Hawks generally inhabit woodlands and are characterized by their broad wings, hooked beaks, strong legs, long tail and sharp vision. Some of the common species of hawks include sparrowhawks, goshawks, sharp-shinned Hawks, etc.

Hawks tend to hunt their prey using ambush tactics, i.e. they jump from hidden perches, located high up in the trees, towards their prey and stoop to gain the required velocity before striking the prey with the talons. Their long tail allows them to control their flight and turn precisely in the air. Their beak is smoother than that of hawks as they often use their talons to kill and tear up their prey rather than their beaks. Hawks are larger than falcons but have smaller wings than falcons. They generally hunt the land vertebrates and small birds like rabbits, rats, frogs, pigeons etc.


Falcon is a bird of prey that belongs to the family Falconidae and genus falco. It has many species under the genus falco. There are over 40 different species of falcon found all over the world such as peregrine falcon, black falcon etc. Falcons are characterized by their long, tapered wings and powerful hooked beaks. They are highly adapted to the predatory lifestyle, e.g. they have large claws to capture or hold the prey and strong beaks to tear up the flesh of the prey.

Falcons fly at very high speed and can easily change their directions in the air because of their long, tapered and thin wings. The peregrine falcon is recorded as the fastest flying bird or a fastest moving animal on the Earth with a diving speed of 322 km/hr. They fly at high altitudes and while hunting their prey they swoop down through the air and form the teardrop shape to gain high speed in order to catch the prey. They generally hunt ground vertebrates and other smaller birds such as pigeons, sparrows, rabbits, rats, frogs, fishes and snakes.

Based on the above facts, some of the key differences between falcons and hawks are as follows:

Hawk Falcon
Hawks are larger than falcons. Falcons are comparatively smaller than hawks.
They have a simple curve on their beaks. They have a notch on their beaks.
They have a sleek and pointed head. They have a short, rounded head.
They have broad wings with rounded ends. Their wings are long, slender with pointed ends.
They attack from a hidden perch. They attack from high altitudes.
They tend to hold or kill their prey with their talons or claws. They use their beaks to hold or kill the prey.
They flap wings slowly and often glide in the air. They flap wings rapidly and glide for a short duration of time in the air.
Its speed while flying is less than that of falcons. Its speed while flying is much more than a hawk.
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