Hawk: What You Should Know

Hawks are among the birds of prey like the birds of prey and owls. The closest relatives of hawks are eagles, vultures, buzzards, and some others. In total there are about forty species of hawks. They live almost everywhere in the world. Only eight species breed in Europe. Peregrine falcons, tree falcons, and kestrels breed in Germany and Switzerland. In Austria, the saker falcon also breeds. The peregrine falcon reaches its highest speed when diving: 350 km/h. That’s three times faster than the cheetah on Earth.

Hawks are easily recognized from the outside by their beak: the upper part is bent down like a hook. They are particularly good at killing their prey. Another special feature is hidden under the feathers: hawks have 15 cervical vertebrae, more than other birds. This allows them to turn their heads particularly well to spot their prey. In addition, hawks can see very well with their sharp eyesight.

Humans have always been fascinated by falcons. For example, among the ancient Egyptians, the falcon was a sign of the pharaoh, the king. Even today, a falconer is someone who trains a falcon to obey and hunt for it. Falconry used to be a sport for wealthy nobles.

How do hawks live?

Hawks can fly very well, but they always have to flap their wings. They cannot glide in the air like eagles, for example. From the air, they pounce on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and larger insects, but also on other birds. They look out for prey either from a perch or in flight.

Hawks don’t build nests. They lay their eggs in an empty nest of another species of bird. However, some falcon species are content with a hollow in a rock face or in a building. Most female hawks lay about three to four eggs, which they incubate for about five weeks. However, this also depends on the species of hawks.

Whether falcons are migratory birds or whether they always live in the same place cannot be said in this way. The kestrel alone can always live alone in the same place or migrate south in winter. That largely depends on how much nutritional food they find.

Depending on the species, hawks are endangered or even threatened with extinction. Adult falcons hardly have any enemies. However, owls sometimes compete with them for their nesting site and also kill them. However, their greatest enemy is man: climbers threaten the nesting sites, and poisons in agriculture accumulate in the prey. The hawks eat these poisons with them. This causes their eggshells to thin and crack, or the hatchlings will not develop properly. Animal traders also plunder nests and sell the young birds.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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