Hawks are majestic-looking birds of prey. They happen to have the best eye-sight among all of the animal kingdoms, which they use to their advantage when hunting. However, this majestic predator is known only to hunt during the day, as they are diurnal birds. This raises a common question in people: do hawks eat bats?
Hawks do, in fact, eat bats. This may seem quite unlikely, but these mammals quite frequently end up being a part of the diet of the hawks. In fact, due to hawks’ amazing eyesight, hawks are even able to catch bats during mid-flight.
Now that the basic is covered let us dig deeper and find out more about hawks feeding on bats. In this article, we are going to discuss which particular hawks are more likely to eat bats, as well as why hunting bats are harder than other prey of hawks. So, if you are interested in knowing more, we recommend you read this article.
Do Hawks Hunt Bats?
Considering the fact that hawks are mostly diurnal birds (which means that they are active during the day, not at night) and bats are strictly nocturnal (which means that they are active at night, not during the day), some find it surprising that hawks are able to hunt bats.
However, no matter how surprising it may appear, hawks do, indeed, prey on bats. As we have already mentioned before, hawks have a very keen eye-sight. In fact, their eyesight is so good that they can not only see amazingly during the day but also can see properly enough in the lowlights of dusk and dawn.
This ability to see in the low light allows them the opportunity to hunt bats as they fly by. Though it is not an easy job, the situation demands the hawks can be patient, sneaky and fast enough to catch a bat in mid-flight.
Which Species Of Hawks Eat Bats?
Hawks are notorious for having a diet list that consists of any and everything they can get their talons on. So, while bats may not be the primary food source for many hawks, if the opportunity arises, a hawk is hardly going to pass on eating a bat. However, when it comes to hunting bats, not every species can manage to do that.
Here is a list of hawks species that are most likely to feed on bats:
Scientific Name: Macheiramphus Alcinus
Just as their name suggests, bat hawks mostly feed on bats. In fact, they are the only animal whose staple food is the bat. These bat-eating predators have angular wings and a large gap. The large gap allows them to capture and eat the bats whole while they are still flying.
These hawks have a build that is almost as similar to a falcon. This provides them with the flexibility to fly through a swarm of bats and hunt for their food. Unlike most other hawks, the bat hawks are mostly inactive during the day. They go out to hunt during dusk and dawn. Moreover, if there is enough light available, these birds can even hunt during the night.
As bats are their primary food, the bat hawks are mostly seen hunting for bats. You would be impressed to know that whenever they attack bats, there is almost a 50% chance that they are going to succeed.
Scientific Name: Buteo Jamaicensis
The red-tailed hawks are one of the largest hawk species out there. Their large build and resulting heavy weight give them the power and strength it takes to hunt bats. However, unlike the bat hawks, bats are not the staple food for the red-tailed hawks. Their diet changes with the season and their location.
Mainly they eat land mammals such as raccoons, rabbits, squirrels etc., or you might see these hawks hunting birds as well. Though occasionally, they would go out to prey on the bat population as well.
They hunt bats using their high speed and the element of surprise. These smart and experienced predators will attack the bats from the sides and use their high speed to swiftly catch the bats they are after. The red-tailed hawks generally prefer to hunt bats while they are migrating from one place to another.
Scientific Name: Accipiter Cooperii
These not-too-large hawk species are mostly found in the woodlands. Other birds and small animals or rodents, like mice, bats, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, etc., make up the majority of their diet list.
Cooper’s hawk-hunting tactics rely heavily on stealth. They will hide in some densely sheltered area and sneakily approach their prey, ready to take advantage of the surprise of the attack. Due to their particular hunting style, Cooper’s hawks hunt stray bats that wander into the woodland areas.
Another interesting fact about Cooper’s hawks and bats is that: unlike the other hawks, Cooper’s hawks will mostly hunt only the fruit bats. You should know that bats mostly eat flowers, fruits and nectar.
Scientific Name: Buteo Regalis
Just as their name suggests, these regal-looking birds are the largest of all the Buteo hawks out there. Thanks to their large size, these hawks are able to feed on small to medium-sized mammals. Birds and insects are also part of their diet.
These majestic birds hunt bats by attacking them directly. The ferruginous hawks will dive bomb towards a flying bat. They will then capture and strike the nape of the bat to kill them. However, instead of feeding on the wing, they will take the captured bat to someplace safe to eat. The ferruginous hawks mostly target one of the largest bat species called the Flying Foxes.
Why Is Bat Hunting Difficult For Hawks?
Even though hawks usually manage to hunt and feed on bats if they set out to do it, it is, by no means, an easy task to do. However, this is not because of any lacking of hawks’ predatory skills but rather because of the natural capabilities given to bats.
After all, among all mammals, bats are the only ones with the capability of true and stable flight, which certainly helps out a lot when they are under a hawk attack. Besides, almost all bat species have the natural ability of echolocation, which helps them to detect any obstacles in their surroundings.
This ability surely comes in handy to get alert about any lurking hawks nearby. Moreover, bats usually travel in groups. And no hawk can enter the tight formation of the bats to hunt a single bat without getting hurt in the process. Furthermore, bats being nocturnal animals naturally, make it harder for diurnal predators like hawks to prey on them.
Hunting bats is not the easiest thing in the world for the hawks. However, hawks do have a reputation as being skilled predators. Thus, despite there being numerous difficulties, through sheer practice or perhaps evolution, many hawks have mastered the art of hunting bats.
Therefore, even though apart from bat hawks, bats might not be the staple food for the hawks in general. However, one thing for sure is that, given a chance to feed on them, no hawk will pass on the opportunity to eat a bat.