Hawks are often called raptors, which is just another way of calling them birds of prey. Hawks have an impressively long list of diets, of which birds are certainly a big part of. So, if you find yourself wondering whether hawks eat pigeons or not, let us answer it for you.
Yes, hawks do eat pigeons as long as their size and weight allow for it. In fact, certain species of hawks even tend to harbor a special liking towards pigeon eggs. Pigeons are quite nutritious as a food for hawks. They are a good source of fat and protein for the hawks.
Now that the biggest question is out of the way, let us consider some other questions you might have regarding hawks and pigeons. For example, you might find yourself wondering which species of hawks are more likely to feed on pigeons and how? You can read the article to find out. We might as well tell you ways to keep your pigeons safe from hawks.
Which Species Of Hawks Are Likely To Feed On Pigeons?
Hawks may be fierce, powerful, and quite prolific predators, but they, too, have a limitation on their strength. Pigeons are not tiny birds. A healthy grown pigeon can have a pretty good weight, which makes it harder for predators to just snatch them away mid-flight.
Hawks are powerful birds. However, they too cannot fly while carrying something that weighs more than their body weight. Thus, not all species of hawks are equipped with the ability to hunt for pigeons. Here we are now going to discuss some of the species that are most likely prey on pigeons.
The Sparrow Hawks
These beautiful birds of prey are actually a terror for birds. The primary diet of a sparrow hawk, for the most part, consists of birds. In fact, they are known for hunting more than 120 species of birds. However, their hunting methods differ based on being male and female.
Female sparrow hawks can be as much as 25% larger than male sparrow hawks. This gives them the capability to take on birds that can weigh up to almost 500g. Wood pigeon is one of their common prey. As a matter of fact, an average of 110 pigeons are killed each year by sparrow hawks.
The most common method of hunting the sparrow hawks is waiting and ambushing. These smart birds will wait for their prey, staying hidden out of sight and looking for the perfect moment to ambush the prey using the element of surprise.
The sparrow hawks have the capability of reaching 50 kilometers per hour in rapid succession. This allows them to launch quick attacks on pigeons that are innocently foraging on the ground. However, if a pigeon manages to fly away, you will not see the sparrow hawks giving it any chase. After all, the sparrow hawk is not really known for its high stamina.
This is a bird species that share a lot of similarities to the sparrow hawks, though goshawks are considerably larger. However, despite their large appearance, these birds of prey are often known as the phantom of the forest. The goshawk has the capability of reaching 40 kilometers per hour, giving them the ability to hunt birds.
When it comes to their hunting style, the goshawks have often been called reckless. They are prone to giving chase of birds without thinking and ending up being crashed into branches and other things. However, this only proves their determination as a bird of prey.
These fierce hawks prefer to hunt pigeons in mid-flight. To get advantage over the pigeon, the goshawks use their sharp talons and wide wings. They tend to intimidate the pigeons by catching them on the wing before carrying them off to feed on them.
The Harrier Hawks
You might be able to find 16 different species of harrier hawks all over the world, including species such as marsh harrier, hen harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, etc. Among all these species, however, the Montagu’s harrier is the rarest.
With long tails and even longer wings, these birds have a tendency to fly much nearer to the ground than other hawks. The purpose here is to scare their prey. The panicked pigeons often start to fly without thinking, giving the hawks a perfect opportunity to swoop down and hunt them.
When it comes to pigeons, they are not the main source of food for the harrier hawks. However, a harrier hawk will certainly not pass up any chance to feed on a pigeon if the opportunity presents itself. Especially when it concerns young baby pigeons or eggs.
How Do Hawks Prey On Pigeons?
There are several different methods hawks use to hunt pigeons. The methods actually depended on the species of the hawks. Some species prefer to fly high in the sky and circle around on the prey, looking for an opportunity to swoop down and catch it with their very sharp talons.
Other species tend to hover over the places where the pigeons usually roam around. Or, perhaps, you will find them perched up on top of some big trees, silently observing their prey. While attacking, their main weapon would be their talons instead of their beak.
How To Keep Your Pigeons Safe From Hawks?
Pigeons are popular prey on hawks. However, if you are a pigeon lover or a pigeon owner, this cannot be a fun experience for you. Therefore, we have gathered here some effective ways you can employ to keep your beloved pigeons safe from the hawks without actually harming them in any way. The methods are listed below:
- Hawks tend to hover over the ground looking for prey. You can move your pigeon feeder to a sheltered place to ensure the safety of your pigeons.
- Give the pigeons a quick hiding place during hawk attacks by putting the feeder near someplace with natural protection, such as evergreen bushes.
- Keep the schedule of flying your pigeons unpredictable so that hawks cannot plan an ambush on your pigeons.
- Try to keep your pigeons on a balanced diet. Over-feeding them will only make them slower in a flight and get them killed and eaten by hawks.
- Train your racing pigeons properly so that they can out-fly a hawk while under attack.
- Befriend the crows. In this case, you happen to share the same enemy. The crows will annoy the hawks and keep them away from your pigeons.
- Well-train your pigeons to come back to the loft after flying. Loitering around can get them killed.
- Use other techniques that keep the hawks away, such as hanging old reflective CDs on a string, hanging reflective balls, etc.
Pigeons are definitely part of the diet list of the hawks. No pigeon owner or pigeon lover would like to see their beloved pigeons getting killed or eaten. However, under no circumstances you are allowed to harm a hawk trying to feed on its prey. After all, remember that harming hawks and other birds of prey is not only immoral but also illegal as well.