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A falcon, A hawk And An Eagle- What’s The Difference?

A falcon, A hawk And An Eagle- What’s The Difference?

There are several types of birds that belong to distinctive species. They differ in terms of their structure, flight, and other unique characteristics. Some of them are eagle, hawk, and falcon which are too different, yet confused by some of the masses.

It’s difficult to find distinctions between hawks and eagles. Eagles are generally larger and more powerful. However, the American Red-Tail Hawk is larger than the Australian Small Eagle. They are nearly identical in terms of taxonomy.

It is observed that falcons are rarely related to the eagles and hawks. Hence, are much easier to distinguish.

Here, I’ll be discussing the distinctive characteristics of these birds, their scientific variations, and other features which help us differentiate them in a better way. You’ll be able to distinguish them by the end of this article.

Let’s get started.

Eagle Vs. Hawk Vs. Falcons

It has long been assumed that falcons and hawks/eagles are closely related, and both have traditionally been classified as members of the same order, Falconiformes. They have contrasting DNA.

It turns out that falcons are only distantly related to hawks and eagles; their closest relatives are parrots and, even further away, songbirds (see Parrots and Falcons-Long-lost Cousins).

The order Falconiformes now only includes the falcon family, with hawks and eagles placed in a separate, unrelated order, Accipitriformes. After all, a falcon is not a type of hawk.

When it comes to hawks and eagles, the only distinction is usually one of size.

The various members of the hawk family (Accipitridae) known as eagles around the world are not necessarily close relatives within the family (see Accipitridae). Bald Eagles (genus Haliaeetus), for example, are much more closely related to some kites than Golden Eagles (Aquila).

To further complicate matters, there are several medium-sized members of the hawk-eagle family, so the names don’t mean much.

What Is The Distinction Between An Eagle And A Hawk?

A hawk’s wingspan is shorter than that of an eagle. Some large hawks, such as the red-tailed hawk, resemble eagles in appearance.

The tail and wing shapes are nearly identical. A hawk is typically smaller and less powerful than an eagle.

Overall, they are the same birds because there is no discernible difference in their bodies. In short, eagles are bigger and stronger than hawks.

All in all, eagles are considerably larger than hawks.

Eagle Vs. Falcon

A falcon is a falconoid that is not a caracara (Falconidae – Polyborinae), but a true falcon is a member of the Genus Falco.

While an eagle is a large predatory accipitrid bird (no vultures). Some species, however, such as the pygmy eagle (Hieraaetus weikei), are quite small.

Because they are related to eagles, they are classified as eagles rather than hawks. Aquiline eagles are small eagles.

Small accipitrids with forked tails, on the other hand, are hawks (no kites). Although Accipiters are the true hawks, other small accipitrids without forked tails, such as buzzards or harriers, can also be referred to as “hawks.”

Falconids are the only extant members of the order Falconiformes, which also includes accipitrids, secretary birds, and ospreys.

While the Hawks and eagles are closely related, the Falcons are genetically more similar to parrots than to either of the other two!

Isn’t it surprising?

A ferruginous white hawk in attack mode.
The majority of the masses confuse an eagle and a hawk more than a hawk and a falcon.

What Is Adored The Most, An Eagle or A Hawk?

The Eagle is something we adore. Hawk, on the other hand, is not into consideration by many. Eagles live in the mountains, in rocky cathedrals that reach for the sky.

Hawks have blood on their feathers, but because time is still moving, they’ll be dry soon. The Falcons are the best of the bunch.

There are significant differences between these three species. The first distinction is that eagles are among the largest prey birds, with a larger wingspan ranging from 1.8 to 2.3 meters in length, a larger head, a sharper beak, and much more powerful talons.

These are the weapons that are perfectly adapted to kill prey such as fish, snakes, rabbits, foxes, and the like some individuals have even been reported to hunt prey as large as deer and even other carnivores.

Can Size Alone Determine The Distinctions Between A Falcon, A Hawk, Or An Eagle?

Generally, size alone cannot determine the differences in all these species. While falcons are generally smaller than hawks, the size varies greatly depending on the species; for example, the peregrine falcon weighs around 1.5 kg, while the American red-tailed hawk weighs no more than 1.1 kg.

Instead of size, it’s the shape of the wing and the shape of the head that distinguish the two raptors. Falcons have a short, rounded head and long, slender wings that are pointed at the end, whereas hawks have a sleek, pointed head and wider wings with rounded ends.

In other words, we can say that they are all raptors or predatory birds. Size, prey, hunting style, speed, and color all differ.

How Can You Differentiate Between A Hawk And An Eagle?

The primary distinction between them is their relative sizes. Even the largest hawks are smaller than the smallest eagles. There are some minor anatomical and physiological differences between hawks and eagles that allow us to classify a bird into one or the other taxonomic group, but simply comparing their sizes suffices.

Hawks are large to medium-sized birds with broad wings and tails. The largest of the three, eagles, are well-built, with large heads and beaks. The smallest, the falcon, has tapered, pointy-edged wings.

Contrary to that, the eagles are the strongest in terms of strength. 

When it comes to speed, the falcons outperform the others.

This table shows some of the main differences between Hawk, Eagle, and Falcon.

CharacteristicsHawkEagleFalcon
FamilyAccipitridaeAccipitridaeFalconidae
Height20-69 centimeters
(7.9-27 inches)
45-105 centimeters
(18 inches – 3 feet 5 inches)
22-61 centimeters
(8.7-24 inches)
Weight75 grams – 2.2 kilograms 453 grams – 9.5 kilogram80 grams – 1.3 kilograms
Lifespan201413
Activity PatternDiurnalDiurnalDiurnal
Comparison table of the three species.
Do you know anything about the top 3 predators? If not, check out this video.

Which Is Faster, The Hawk Or The Eagle?

There are various types of hawks and eagles. As a result, the answer isn’t as simple as hawk vs. eagle.

A bird of prey is the world’s fastest bird. It is, however, neither a hawk nor an eagle. It is the Peregrine Falcon, which can reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour.

On the other hand, the Golden Eagle is the world’s second-fastest bird. It’s significantly larger than the Peregrine Falcon. Despite this, it can dive at nearly 200 mph.

The Steppe Eagle, which has a top speed of approximately 185 mph, is ranked third. Another falcon is the fourth fastest bird.

An image showing a peregrine falcon in flight mode.
A peregrine Falcon is one of the most powerful falcons with a competitive speed.

Some of the numeric related to the speed of these species are listed below:

  • The Gyrfalcon has a top speed of about 130 miles per hour.
  • The fastest hawk comes in at number five. 
  • The Red-tailed hawk can reach speeds of nearly 120 miles per hour.
  • There are approximately 60 species of eagle in the world, with the majority of them found in Eurasia and Africa. 
  • There are over 200 species of hawk in the world, with approximately 25 of them indigenous to the United States. 
  • There are only about 40 species of falcon in the world, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. 

To summarize, a few eagles are faster than the fastest hawk, but the majority are not.

The Peregrine Falcon, with a top speed of 242 mph, is the fastest bird in a dive, followed by the American Golden Eagle, with a top speed of 200 mph.

An Asian Swift is the fastest in flapping flight. In flapping-wing flight, it can reach speeds of 105 mph.

So, here’s some trivia I discovered while researching the differences between hawks and falcons. 

Hawks are related to eagles and kites, whereas falcons, believe it or not, are more closely related to parrots! 

So, I guess the definitive answer to the question of hawk or eagle in a dive is, hands down, the eagle.

What Are The Differences Between All These Species?

There are numerous differences between the three species.

The first difference is size: eagles are among the largest of all birds of prey, with a larger wingspan (around 1.8–2.3 meters long), a larger head, a sharper beak, and much more powerful talons (claws), weapons perfectly adapted to kill prey such as fish, snakes, rabbits, foxes, and the like—some individuals have even been reported to hunt prey as large as deer and even other carnivorous

However, most zoologists believe that size alone is insufficient to distinguish a falcon from a hawk because, while falcons are generally smaller than hawks, size varies greatly depending on the species.

The peregrine falcon, for example, weighs around 1.5 kg, while the American red-tailed hawk weighs no more than 1.1 kg. Instead of size, wing shape and head shape distinguish the two raptors: falcons have a short, rounded head and long, slender wings with pointed tips, whereas hawks have sleek, pointed heads and wider wings with rounded tips.

Furthermore, eagles and hawks have distinct feathers at the tips of their wings that allow them to maneuver with greater precision.

While falcons, with their slender wings, are better at speed than maneuverability, which explains their more aerodynamic shape, when hunting prey such as pigeons, the peregrine falcon can dive at great heights.

Hawk Vs. Eagle- Have a look at the videos to differentiate between them.

Which Is Deadlier, The Falcon Or The Eagle?

A harpy eagle can carry off monkeys that a peregrine falcon cannot. Although the eagle appears to be larger, the falcon appears to be faster and more accurate. I wouldn’t want to be a bird being hunted by either of them, and I certainly wouldn’t want a falcon on my tail.

As previously stated, the question is subjective and ambiguous, similar to “what is the coolest raptor?” Thank you, however, for allowing me to demonstrate an extremely specific fact about peregrines that I recently discovered.

Because few birds hunt over open water, many small birds migrate by flying several miles off the coast. A hawk that catches a songbird three miles out to sea must carry it back to land.

The peregrine falcon, on the other hand, is a raptor that can kill, catch, and eat a smaller bird while in flight.

A portrait of a whitehead eagle
Whitehead Eagle

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are several distinctions between eagles and falcons, and hawks. Eagles weigh more and stand taller than falcons. Furthermore, eagles have a much larger wingspan than falcons. 

On the other hand, Falcons are much faster than eagles in a steep dive. Eagles have long, curved beaks, whereas falcons have a sharp, pointed beak that is shorter than an eagle but also curves.

Eagles are also more aggressive than falcons, which is why the latter are more commonly trained. Finally, falcons kill their prey immediately, whereas eagles can grasp their prey and then kill it later.

When it comes to distinguishing between birds of prey, most of them, except vultures and owls, share several physical characteristics. Hawks, eagles, and falcons are especially difficult to distinguish unless closely examined. 

If you have difficulty identifying these birds, the detailed discussion of their differences in this article will undoubtedly be beneficial to you.

Take a look at this article to find out the difference between hawk, falcon, eagle, osprey, and kite: Differences: Hawk, Falcon, Eagle, Osprey, And Kite (Simplified)

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