Hawks Vs Owls: Know the Difference

Last Updated on January 15, 2022 by Guillermina

Hawks vs owls? How can you tell the difference? Which is a lot fiercer?

These are some of the most common questions that come to mind when we think of birds of prey or large birds. But if you want to know the difference between hawk and owl, you first need to assess their physical features.

Despite being birds of prey, it’s very easy to tell the difference between the two birds since they do not look very much alike. Hawks are the typical medium-sized raptors with the speed to chase down prey. Owls are much bigger than hawks and while they don’t sleep at night, hawks do.

Hawks Vs owls – Identifying Their Differences


Hawks are typically smaller than owls, weighing about 2 kilograms at most. It has a wingspan of 1 meter while owls have 2 meters wingspan. The head of the hawk is quite smaller compared with owls. Though hawks have a more streamlined body structure, owls do have bigger physic with eyes wide open during the night.

 difference between hawk and owl


An obvious difference between hawk and owl is their beaks. The hawk’s beak is black and some species have small teeth in the upper mandible. Owls have short curved and downward-facing beaks and they have no teeth. You wouldn’t be able to see the difference if you see them flying. However, if you happen to see an injured big and you are confused whether it is an owl or a hawk, this one feature you can check.


 Hawks have thick and broad feathers, which allow them to soar higher than owls do. They are resistant to rising heat and fly with precision. Plus, they have long feathery tails, which can look really attractive when they fly. Owls have thick feathers too but with fibers arranged in such a way to minimize flight sound. You can’t even hear an owl fly at night unless they “woot”. Their tales are not as long and wide as hawks.


Hawks have forward-facing eyes, which give them telescope vision. They can see their prey even when they are far above the sky. On the other hand, owls have the biggest eyes among all birds. They also have telescopic visions but more so during the night when hawks are asleep. Even hawks are afraid of owls, especially if the baby. Owls prey at night and may eat baby hawks.


You may not know it but hawks have great hearing, which is only useful for finding mates. In any case, they are sensitive to sudden motions and movement. Even the clanging of metals in your backyard can scare them away. On the other hand, owls have parabolic ears. They can detect rodents scuttling away at least 1-meter deep on the ground.

 owls and hawks

Flying Patterns

Hawks normally fly and soar on thermals. They flap their wings while owls don’t do too much flapping However, the hawks are agile enough to dive and clasp their prey. They can exceed 220km per hour. On the other hand, owls are only up to 60km/hour because of their thick feathers.

Hawks Vs Owls: Why Should I Care?

It is important to know the difference between hawks vs owls. These birds are both protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means that you cannot harm either of them. Hawks usually fly during daylight to hunt for prey. You can see them perching on high platforms and sometimes they even come to your backyard to visit birdfeeders. 

Regardless, you cannot just harm these birds. You may scare them away so they perch in other locations or prey somewhere else. The owl chases around evening time, so they center around quiet and speed, while the falcon kills during the day, so they simply snatch their prey and leave.

Regardless, both are raptors that have for some time been considered. They assist with keeping the environment balanced, and their great and hunting style is the reason we respected them to such an extent.

Red-tailed Hawk Vs Great Horned Owl

The red-tailed hawk is what it says it is. But its number one enemy is the great horned owl. Assuming the owls are persistent, the red-tailed hawks eventually give up. Extraordinary horned owls can offset red-tails by 30% and their claws are over two times as strong with a claw strength of 500lbs. for each square inch.

Red-tailed Hawk Vs Great Horned Owl

Moreover, the great horned owl has a perilous nesting habit. Owls don’t build their own nest but they spy on the hawk’s nest and settle if they find it attractive. Unfortunately, it is the red-tail hawk’s nest that is always appealing to them. 

Most of the time, a great horned owl would try to steal and occupy the red-tail hawk’s nest, which can lead to a fight.

Protecting Owls and Hawks

Owls and hawks are both protected bird species. Just because they feed on your backyard or they are scary, you cannot just harm them. These birds are an important part of the ecosystem as they help control the population of rodents and other small mammals that are harmful to humans.  

Note that owls and hawks are already considered endangered species. For example, some owl species in the United States have declined in number due to loss of habitat, pesticides, and vehicle collisions. Before the protective law, they were also hunted down for food.

Some hawks were also hunted down and killed for preying on poultry and root crops. Nowadays, these birds cannot be shut down without a special permit.

Hawks Vs Owls: Importance Of Proper Identification

Again, if you are confused between hawk vs owl, just remember their most common differences. Hawks chase in the sunlight, while owls kill in the night as they can find in obscurity. They are so unique in relation to one another that they don’t have a similar ordered request.

For the most part, owls are bulkier and more grounded than birds of prey. They frequently chase after peddling families. Along these lines, assuming the two birds were to battle, a falcon is probably going to lose. Here are some connected articles about birds of prey and owls which you might see as fascinating.

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