When it comes to choosing their prey, hawks are hardly picky. They will eat just about anything they can hunt. Still, often we find ourselves wondering if a specific animal makes up its way onto the diet list of hawks. So, do hawks eat mice?
The answer is yes. They definitely do eat mice. Mice are quite a nutritious source of food as well as not very difficult to hunt, earning them a significant part of hawks’ diet.
In this article, we are going to discuss this particular question in detail, as well as which hawk species are more likely to prey on mice. We are also going to get into a discussion on how hawks prey on mice. So, if you want to know the answers to these questions, you should start reading this article.
Are Mice A Big Part Of Hawks’ Diet?
Hawks are big natural predators. They will prey on any and every animal they are capable of hunting. Small mammals and rodents are some of their most common prey. Consequently, hawk hunting and eating mice are more common occurrences than you might think.
Mice are one of the most common prey of the hawks, and they are actually quite higher up than most other animals on a hawk’s diet list. The reason lies mostly in their availability as well as in the fact that mice are very easy to hunt. They are good for hawks’ health as well.
Thus, it should not surprise you when we say that if there are enough mice around, a baby hawk can eat up to 2/3 mice per day. The number goes up as they grow up. On average, a fully grown hawk can hunt and eat almost 6 to 8 mice every day. However, remember, the numbers depend mainly on the availability of the mice.
Which Species Of Hawks Eat Mice?
If we are being technical, almost all species of hawks will eat mice, especially if they are hungry enough and no other prey is available. However, some hawk species are more inclined to feed on these hairy rodents than others. Let us now talk about some of them:
The Red-Tailed Hawk
These large hawks with bulky and broad wings are made for effortlessly soaring up in the air. This ability of effortless flying coupled with their amazing eyesight makes them a deadly predator for their prey. The red-tailed hawks prefer to hunt by perching someplace high or flying over the ground, just waiting for the right moment to swoop down and catch their meal.
These large hawks are known to primarily prey on rats and mice. They can locate them from a height of about 100 feet, if not more so. On average, the red-tailed hawks can feed on 28 large mice per week, given the availability of the mice population.
The Cooper’s Hawk
This medium-sized hawk is often found in the woodlands. They are known for their short and rounded wings and their long tail. Their diet list consists mainly of other birds and small mammals or rodents such as mice, bats, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, etc.
The hunting style of Cooper’s hawks mainly depends on stealth. They will hide in some densely covered area and stealthy approach their prey, ready to take advantage of the surprise of the attack. Once they pounce, you can know for sure that it is going to be a rapid and powerful fight where they will most likely emerge victorious.
The Sharp-Shinned Hawks
After our discussion on a large and a medium-sized hawk species preying on mice, it is now time to focus on a smaller hawk species that also earned its reputation as a predator of mice. The sharp-shinned hawks are one of the smallest hawk species around the world.
These small predators mostly prey on other smaller birds and rodents like mice as well as other small animals like bats, squirrels, lizards, frogs, etc. the sharp-shinned hawks are quite active predators.
They hunt by flying quickly over the ground or among the trees or staying perched up somewhere, waiting for their prey to show up. Once they find their prey, they would swiftly swoop down, catching their victim by surprise and succeeding in capturing them using their sharp talons.
How Do The Hawks Hunt The Mice?
Mice are quite easy for the hawks to prey on. However, this does not mean that the hawks do not need to put any effort into the whole hunting process. Despite what you might think, the top predators actually apply a variety of tactics to prey on these little rodents. Let us see what some of those are:
The Perch And Swoop Method
This method is simple. The hawks will patiently perch on a high place and be on the lookout for their prey. Once they find a mouse they want to feed on, they will quickly swoop down and catch it with their sharp talons or beaks.
Soaring In The Sky
This is a method used by most hawks. In this method, the hawks will steadily fly in the air keeping a circle. Due to their excellent eyesight, they will be able to be on the lookout for mice to feed on.
Hovering In The Air
In this method, instead of flying in a circle, the hawks will just hover over a particular spot. They are able to keep their stationary position by methodically flapping their wings. Anyway, once a mouse is located, the hawks will gain momentum and dive in to pounce on it.
Can Hawks Swallow A Whole Mouse?
When the question is, can they eat a whole mouse? Well, yes, they definitely can, given the mouse is not too big. However, just because they can do it, it does not mean that they should or that they actually do it.
Hawks actually prefer to kill the mice first and then eat them by tearing them to pieces. Hawks usually kill the bird using their sharp beaks and talons. The most common way is to bite off the head of the mice first and eat the rest of the body slowly and in small portions.
Hawks are notorious mice eaters. Mice are small, nutritious, and quite easy to catch. And considering how high the numbers of mice getting eaten by hawks are, it is safe to assume that mice are found in abundance for the hawks to prey on.
In a way, by eating mice, the hawks are actually doing us a favor. They are not only resolving their feeding necessity but also keeping the rodent population around us in check.