Do Hawks Eat Rabbits?

As we all know, hawks are magnificent birds of prey. Their diet list is quite long, from small birds or mice to reptiles or coyotes. Those who keep rabbits as pets always wonder, do hawks eat rabbits? So I’m going to break down whether you should consider hawks as rabbit predators or not.

Small mammals like rabbits are at the top of the hawk’s diet list, and it also depends on the hawk’s species. Almost all the hawk species eat rabbits especially large hawks like Red-tailed hawks prey on a rabbit and pick it up in the air. But small specie like Sharp-shinned or Sparrow hawks usually can’t prey on rabbits as they are larger than these hawks. But if they get a small or injured rabbit, they will surely take advantage of it.

In the rest of the article, I’ve discussed which species of hawk eat rabbits, what are other predators of rabbits, and much more. For more information on this fascinating hunter, continue reading till the end.

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Which Species Of Hawk Eat Rabbits?

Hawks can’t prey on or carry something that is bigger than them. So when we are talking about hawk’s prey list, we have to consider this perspective. 

The average weight of an adult rabbit is 1-2.5 kg. So only the species of hawk that is larger than this can prey on a rabbit and carry them to their nest.

In some cases, even if hawks can’t kill a rabbit by squeezing with their nails, they will badly injure it with their sharp claws. When it dies, hawks start eating it on the ground.

Here are the species of hawks that are mostly seen to prey on and eat rabbits:

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawks are one of the biggest species of hawk. They likely eat small birds, reptiles, and mammals like rabbits and squirrels. With their keen eyesight, they attack their prey in the blink of an eye, and with their sharply curved talon, they cut their prey into small pieces.

When they see a rabbit, they consciously observe its movement, swoop down and grab it with their sharp talons. If it’s small enough, they carry it to their nest. If it’s not, they will start eating it on the ground, and after that, they carry the leftovers to their nest for baby hawks.

Cooper Hawk

Cooper hawks usually prey on robins, starlings, juncos, jays, doves, and pigeons. Squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits are also in their diet. They use their sharp claws to squeeze their prey and kill it. Sometimes, they hold their prey with claws and drown it in the water until it dies.

Though these hawks prefer small to medium-sized birds, eating rabbits is not a rare occasion for them.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered hawks are another predator of rabbits. With their keen sense of vision, they can easily track their prey’s movement from a perch. In this case, Rabbits are fickle. They are always found moving around. So it’s obvious that they would become the victim of hawks.

Usually, they prey on animals that are easy to capture and are abundant in that area. Though rabbits are quite fast, it’s not easy to fool the eyes of a hawk. So rabbits are on the regular diet list of these hawks.

According to recent research, an adult red-shouldered hawk eats 11% of its body weight each day.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned hawks are particularly small species of hawk. Their diet usually consists of small birds. In fact, they are often seen attacking the nest of other small birds, eating their babies, and hatching. Sometimes they even go for small rodents like mice.

Though rabbits are quite large for them to prey on, they take advantage of baby or injured rabbits. They will even eat dead rabbits if they notice one.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawks are powerful and skilled predators. As they are comparatively large, they normally prey on medium-sized birds, squirrels, and rabbits. They also eat small birds, snacks, or rodents.

Perhaps this species of hawk prey on the largest number of rabbits. They sit among the leaves of trees, shrubs, and vines and wait for their prey. As soon as they detect any movement, they attack it with a short flight and kill it with their razor-sharp claws.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous hawk’s living style is quite different from other species. They nest on the ground, lay eggs on there and even hunt on the ground. 

These hawks have been seen preying on and eating rabbits.

What Are The Other Predators Of Rabbit?

What Are The Other Predators Of Rabbit
Image Credit: jimfeng, Canva

Hawks are not only the predator of rabbits. There is a long list of rabbit predators.

If you are keeping cute and agile rabbits as pets or thinking of doing so, you should know which animal or bird is dangerous for your favorite pets.

Here is the list of rabbit predators:

  • Raccoons
  • Fox
  • Wild Dogs
  • Snacks
  • Eagles
  • Owls
  • Bears
  • Coyotes
  • Wolverine
  • Dingoes
  • Wolves
  • Weasels
  • Badgers

See, the list of rabbit predators is quite long. Though most of these are wild predators when you have rabbits in your house, you should be careful of dogs and large cats. You can’t keep dogs, cats and rabbits together as pets because they end up killing your rabbits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all hawks prey on rabbits?

Actually, all hawk species can’t prey on rabbits as rabbits are comparatively large prey. Large hawk species like Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered hawks, and some other species prey on and eat rabbits, while small species only get to eat baby or dead rabbits.

Are rabbits hawk’s favorite food?

We can’t say whether a rabbit is a hawk’s favorite food or not. Hawks take advantage of anything that they can catch with their claws. If they can prey on a rabbit, they will happily enjoy its meat.

Wrap Up

Hawks are predators and opportunities. They will eat anything that is easy to catch and abundant in their area.

Rabbits are on the regular diet of large hawk species like Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed, or Red-shouldered hawks. They sit among the leaves of trees, shrubs, and vines and wait for their prey. As soon as they detect any movement, they attack it with a short flight and kill it with their razor-sharp claws. As rabbits are agile, it’s obvious that they will be noticed by this predator.

By the way, though small species of hawks can’t prey on rabbits because of their large size, they take advantage of babies, whether injured or dead.

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