How to feed a wild hawk, and what is the best way to do it? If you’re up for the challenge, here’s how you can do just that.

Hawks are known to be birds of prey and can instill fear in the common person. However, they play a very important part in ecosystems. You might even want their help trying to get rid of pesky vermins in your backyard.

Are you interested in cleaning out your backyard, or at least doing some birdwatching of your favorite local raptors? What do hawks eat that could help you out with your birdwatching goals? Read more about the topic in the article below!

Is It Safe To Feed A Wild Hawk?

To feed a wild hawk is not actually an advisable activity. In fact, in many states, it is against the law to do so.

The deliberate feeding of a wild hawk can disrupt the ecosystem. As you feed the hawk things that are separate from its diet, it will become dependent on you as a source. This is especially true if you feed a younger hawk still learning to hunt.

It is natural for these birds to work hard at their next meal. This teaches them to feed and survive the way that their kind does. It is best not to intervene in this development by introducing them to food for humans or human-prepared food.

The food that you might prepare for a hawk may provide them poor nutrition too. For example, have you wondered can you feed a hawk raw chicken? If you leave the meat out in the wild, there’s a possibility they will swoop in and eat it according to their carnivorous diet, but this should not be the case as it’s best to leave their diet alone.

 can you feed a hawk raw chicken

The hawk’s typical diet is very different from what you might expect. There are very specific needs for the hawk’s diet that they can retrieve and prepare for themselves.

Aside from that, it is really not safe to feed these birds yourself. It is not advisable to have amateurs try to hand-feed birds of prey. There’s a lot of things that could go wrong with the process.

They have very sharp talons and a sharp dive that may be unexpected from your end, putting people in danger. Humans can sustain cuts and scrapes if they don’t know how to handle the birds, especially when they don’t have the right equipment for the job. 

So there you have it: no, it’s not safe to feed a wild hawk for a variety of reasons. It disturbs the natural hunting instinct and diet of the hawk and can put amateur birdwatchers at risk of some injuries or health hazards.

What Do Hawks Eat?

So, do you wonder how to feed a wild hawk? To answer this, you really can’t feed them yourself, so allowing a wild hawk to naturally hunt is the best way to “feed” them.

Technically, what to feed a hawk if you could? You should take a look at their typical diet out in the wild.

 how to feed a wild hawk

What do hawks eat? Food for hawks can vary depending on the location, but in general, they have a certain list of prey that they go after. Hawks like to eat:

  • small mammals (rabbits, squirrels),
  • rodents (mice, rats),
  • reptiles (snakes, lizards),
  • amphibians (frogs, salamanders), 
  • Other smaller birds, and
  • Various kinds of insects.

There is a wide variety that hawks feed on, and they are very good at finding food to sustain themselves. You shouldn’t worry about hawks even in the winter. They will find a way to get fed!

How To Bring Hawks To Your Yard?

Despite not feeding wild hawks by hand, there are still ways to bring these birds to your yard.

Typical hawks in the United States that might make a visit to your backyard include the Red-tailed hawk (which is also the most commonly seen), the red-shouldered hawk, the broad-winged hawk, the sharp-shinned hawk, and the Cooper’s hawk.

Depending on the location of your backyard and the kinds of prey available for the hawk, how often you see raptors drop by will vary. Here are some things you can do to make the visits more likely.

Before you go ahead and do that, remember to protect any small pets and backyard birds that you have at home!

 what do hawks eat

Install a Birdbath

You’ll need something bigger than a stone dish for small colorful birds. This will attract hawks not as a source of hydration, but birds, in general, like the cool splash of water, especially in warmer climates.

Keep big Trees in Your Yard

Raptors like these large trees as shelter and perches. As they are sweeping around the area looking for food, they can hang around in these trees as a good vantage point or place to snack.

Keep Your Yard Good for Pests

This might sound strange, but hear us out – this just means, don’t try to get rid of your rodents and other small mammals in your backyard just yet. Don’t set out rat poison and other kinds of pesticides and additives that aim to kill off this population.

Aside from immediately killing off the prey that could have been food for the hawks, the hawk could get a hold of prey that has consumed this poison. This could lead to an unfortunate, nasty accident that is the unintentional poisoning of a wild bird. Depending on the likelihood of a hawk dropping by your yard, you need to keep this in mind!


Wild hawks are not cuddly neighbors that you should leave some food for, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to observe these majestic creatures safely. If you are curious about these raptors, you can follow some instructions in order to watch them from a safe distance and according to the law.

Have you experienced feeding a hawk or another wild bird before? What was that experience like? Let us know your exciting and interesting birdwatching adventures in the comments below!

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