Do Hawks Eat Raccoons?

When it comes to being a bird of prey, hawks are something you would call a pro. They are formidable predators whose diet list is so long you are sure to get tired reading them. Their diet usually ranges from mice to small mammals. So, we understand if you find yourself wondering: do hawks eat raccoons?

A hawk does and will eat a raccoon if they are presented with the opportunity. In fact, raccoons are quite easy to prey on as they tend to forage around their habitat, not paying attention to their surroundings. However, as raccoons are no small animal, not every hawk can prey on an adult raccoon. Thus, it is mostly smaller hawks preying on smaller and lighter raccoon cubs.

Now that we have established that hawks do eat raccoons, you might be thinking, how do they prey on the raccoons? Or maybe you are wondering exactly which type of hawks goes after the raccoons? And quite ironically, do raccoons eat hawks? In the following article, we have given answers to all these questions. So, read along and find out!

How Does A Hawk Prey On A Raccoon?

Hawks are pretty opportunistic when it comes to finding prey to eat. They have amazing eyesight, in fact, the very best in the entire animal world. Hawks can see into a great distance with a clarity that is eight times stronger than a human’s eyesight. They can even see in colours.

However, despite having superior eyesight, hawks are unable to see in the dark or at night, unlike other predators. So, hawks have to resort to hunting in the daytime when raccoons are out foraging and searching for food during the daytime.

Hawks usually sit high up in the trees and search the ground looking for their prey. When they finally do see something, they are quick to swoop down and capture the prey with their sharp talons.

The talons are sharp and long, and they dig right through the raccoon’s body. The combination of the impact of being snatched and being basically stabbed by the talons usually kills the raccoon.

Now all the hawk has to do is fly the raccoon’s body away and finish their meal. Or, they could even store the dead raccoon in their nest if the day had been productive enough and they already had a meal.

Which Kinds Of Hawks Hunt Raccoons?

Remember, unless hawks are desperate for food, they like to stick to smaller lightweight raccoons. So that they can carry them properly. After all, hawks can only lift a fraction of their own weight. As a result, it is mostly the larger hawks that you’ll see preying on raccoons.

Here is a small discussion on which kinds of hawk hunt and prey on raccoons:

Red-Tailed Hawks

This type of hawk is the most likely to eat raccoons. This is mostly because of their size and weight. They are, without a doubt, one of the biggest species of hawks you will ever see. They are 26 inches long with a 1-2 m wide wingspan. Their weight ranges from around 1-2.5 kgs.

Their size and weight help them carry the raccoon away after capturing it. Besides, with a 190 km/hour flight speed, they are one of the fastest among hawks. The high speed comes in handy when hunting requires them to quickly swoop down and snatch the raccoon away.

Ferruginous Hawk

This is another large species of hawk. They are often seen preying on adult raccoons during the early period of the summer season. With a 1-2.3 kg weight, 24 inches length, and a 1-1.7m wide wingspan, these hawks come closer to red-tailed hawks through their similarities.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

These species of hawks are much smaller. They are approximately 17 inches long, with a 1-1.2 m wide wingspan. They only weigh 1 kg. But when it comes to being swift, the Red-Shoulder hawks surpass even the red-tailed hawks.

Thus, these hawks are most likely to stick to preying on weak or baby raccoons. Adult raccoons are mostly safe from them.

Cooper’s Hawk

This is mainly a bird-eating hawk due to the swiftness of its movement. However, the same can’t be said about its preying on raccoons. Therefore, despite having a length of 21 inches and a wingspan of 1-1.5m width, as well as weighing 0.7-1.5 kg, Cooper’s hawk is mostly notable for preying on raccoons that are weak and slow.

Swainson’s Hawk

This is a migratory bird species with a large appearance. They are around 19 inches long with a 1-1.5m wide wingspan. They have a weight range of 0.7-2 kg. The Swainson’s Hawks usually take advantage of their big size and large weight to prey on raccoons.

Do Raccoons Eat Hawks?

To be honest, the answer is yes. Raccoons do eat hawks.

Are you surprised? Thinking, how can a raccoon ever take on a hawk? It’s simple, they don’t. Raccoons are not known to eat adult hawks. However, they will certainly eat baby hawks or hawk eggs if they are presented with the opportunity.

Being a good forager and an excellent climber, a raccoon would climb up a tree and steal and eat eggs or hawk babies from the nests of hawks.

However, this is not always a successful endeavour. Sometimes when raccoons are trying to steal the eggs, they are caught red-handed by mother hawks. This almost always ends in a tragic way: mother hawk eating the raccoon and feeding it to her babies.

Final Words

Being a predator through and through, hawks hunt and eat about any and everything. Raccoons are no different.

As long as their size and weight allow them to, hawks will surely prey on raccoons if the opportunity arises. Of course, some hawks are too small to prey on adult raccoons. Therefore, they have to be content with baby raccoons or weak ones.

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