10 Important Differences Between a Hawk and a Falcon

10 Important Differences Between a Hawk and a Falcon

Differences Between a Hawk and a Falcon: It might be difficult differentiating between hawks and falcons at first sight especially because both birds are carnivorous in nature.

A hawk is generally smaller in size and weight than a falcon and has a few distinctive characteristics. In this article, we will discuss the important differences between a hawk and a falcon.


Hawk and Falcon

Hawks and falcons are actually very different from each other; from the way, they hunt their prey to how they flap their wings. Due to the predatory nature of these birds, they have hooked beaks to enable them to eat meat.

The falcon belongs to the Genus Falco species that are characterized by their long wings and powerful beaks that are custom made for these birds of prey as their bodies are made for strong scratching and tearing the flesh of captured animals.

A hawk, on the other hand, belongs to the subfamily Accipitrinae which also consists of other subspecies such as Accipiter, Micronisus, Megatriorchis and Melierax.

Biologically, hawks are classified under Family Accipitridae. These birds are diurnal and carnivorous. They have long talons and short, broad wings which allow them to glide through shrubs and trees. They also have multiple photoreceptors in their eyes, which gives them a very sharp vision.

These birds also flap their wings quickly to help their speed. Once they gain energy, they flow smoothly through the air. Bird enthusiasts call this pattern the “flap-flap-glide” pattern.

Hawks usually look for food just before the sunsets. They usually eat small birds, but may also eat small ground-dwelling creatures like grasshoppers, crickets, squirrels, fish, snakes, and rats. They kill their prey using their powerful talons before eating them.


A falcon can be described as any species of raptor in the Genus Falco which consists of 37 species who are widely seen in areas such as Europe, Asia, and North America. A male falcon is commonly known as a ‘tercel’ and is 33% smaller than the female.

They are very fast in flight especially the peregrine falcon whereas hawks are much slower in flight and would basically just glide on a descent. Falcons are actually smaller birds than hawks which are generally large but with shorter wings compared to falcons.

These birds are typically captured and trained by experts in a process known as falconry. Weirdly as it may sound, falcons thrive in open spaces. They do not build their own nests, but they dwell in cavities on cliffs. 

Important Differences Between a Hawk and a Falcon

  • Hawks are generally larger birds than falcons.
  • Hawks are also medium-sized, built in like manner to an eagle but a bit more compact. As they mostly live in forested areas, they have a longer tail for tight maneuvering.
  • Hawks are mainly prescribed to be woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from concealed perch.
  • Generally, hawks are described as the most intelligent bird because they have long tails and high visual acuity.
  • Falcons have a notch on their beaks while hawks have a simple curve on the beak.
  • Falcons are grouped to the Genus Falco species whereas a hawk belongs to the subfamily Accipitrinae species.
  • In hawks, their flight is an accipiter like the pattern of intermittent flaps and glides.
  • Falcons have a compact body, a small but sharp beak, and wings that taper to a fine point.
  • Falcons also catch smaller birds in the air with swift, spectacular dives, called stoops.
  • Typically, falcons are kept and trained to hunt small game for sport. They’re known for their maneuverability.