Hawks are fascinating birds and powerful aerial predators that can catch their prey with incredible skill and accuracy. With so many different types of hawks, it begs the question – do hawks eat foxes?
Red-tailed hawks are the most commonly seen hawk species in North America, and the diet of these majestic birds of prey is incredibly varied; they can consume an extensive range of smaller animals. They are known to be opportunistic feeders and eat any small animal they encounter.
Foxes are found across the globe, in Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Their agile bodies, speed, varied diet, and fantastic hunting abilities have allowed them to thrive in many areas worldwide. Also, they possess extraordinary hearing and sight abilities, but still, foxes are often preyed upon by many animals in the wild due to their smaller size.
Do Hawks Eat Foxes?
Yes, Hawks would eat foxes in certain conditions. The majority of a hawk’s diet consists of small rodents, but they may snatch and eat a fox whenever they can. However, when hunting foxes, hawks would like to target pups, injured or old foxes, as they can be easy prey.
Foxes often get attacked by predators on land, such as lions, leopards, bears, etc. They may lose their life in the chase, and sometimes even if they survive, they get badly injured.
Predators always look for such opportunities to hunt injured animals where they don’t need to struggle much. So, hawks will exploit an injured fox if they spot one and enjoy its meat.
Week And Old Foxes:
In wildlife, only the strongest survive. So, naturally, the old and weak foxes become easy prey for all predators. Large hawk species like ted-tailed hawks or ferruginous can hunt such foxes and eat them.
A vixen usually gives birth to 3-5 kits or baby foxes at once, and their average weight will be 50-150 grams. They are born blind and develop eyesight at around two weeks of age. After three months, they will be strong enough to go hunting with their parents, and this is when most of the young foxes become a victim of predators, including hawks.
Hawk Vs Fox
Though hawks are apex predators and eat all sorts of animals, they will avoid fights they think they may potentially lose. So, most hawks would not hunt large and fierce mammals like foxes. In fact, most hawks don’t even need to prey on foxes.
When these two would fight, the outcome depends on many factors like the fox’s age, health condition, and the hawk’s specie itself. Hawks may hunt young, injured, weak foxes, but there is always some risk involved while hunting an adult fox.
Typically, a hawk weighs around 2-3 pounds, while the largest hawk- Ferruginous can be 4 to 5 pounds at the highest, whereas an adult fox can weigh as much as 30 pounds, which is almost eight times the weight of an average hawk. Hawks can be one of the dominating birds in the sky, but there are some conditions where the hunter becomes hunted.
So hawks would only bother to prey on adult foxes if they see it as a threat to their territory. As foxes are known to kill and eat small birds, killing them may help a hawk to protect its young.
How Often Do Hawks Eat Foxes?
As we discussed, hawks would rarely go for a fox as they have other options when it comes to eating. Many people would assume that hawks only eat mice, but it is not so. A hawk’s diet mainly consists of rodents and small birds.
According to some research, the most common preys of red-tailed hawks are meadow voles, followed by cottontail rabbits and gray squirrels. It is also found that hawks like to hunt other animals, such as chipmunks, sparrows, and robins.
But when it comes to foxes, they are not hawks’ favorite, and they won’t eat foxes often, but when they have to chase one, they would instead go for injured or baby foxes.
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How Do Hawks Hunt Foxes?
Hawks are opportunistic predators and adept hunters, so they hunt whatever they see as easy prey and eat it without any problem. They are notorious for preying on different animals and birds found on the ground and in the air.
Regarding terrestrial animals, the hawks have the leverage of attacking from above. They sit on the top of big trees, and hawks use gravity to their advantage when the prey is spotted, flying towards their prey with great speed.
Most of the time, foxes won’t even anticipate unexpected attacks from the sky as they have to be watchful for predators on the ground. As foxes have vertical eyes, their vision is mostly focused on the ground, and rarely look directly above. The only time a fox knows that a hawk is nearby is after being attacked, which in many cases, is already late.
Hawks are known to kill their prey with their skin-tearing solid talons and sharp curved beaks. They usually aim for the head, neck, and eyes as they are sensitive areas. Then the victim will be grabbed and squeezed to its death. Once the prey is eliminated, the hawk grabs it and flies back to its perch to eat it leisurely.
How Do Hawks Eat Foxes?
If a hawk decides to prey on a fox, it will most likely sneak from behind and target the fox’s spine, as it can paralyze the fox. Then, the hawk may start eating it while it’s still half alive.
This may sound simple, but it actually isn’t. Foxes have the ability to hear the slightest of motions, and they can even communicate through their tails and pheromones. So, we can say that foxes will hear or smell a hawk around.
Of course, the hawk is faster than a fox, but foxes are not less; they have greater stamina.
Do Hawks Eat Dead Foxes?
Hawks are opportunistic creatures, so they are also scavengers. As they are gifted with a great sense of smell, sight, and hearing, these abilities help the hawk find food sources from the sky or on the ground. They don’t mind eating animals that were killed by other animals or roadkill.
Though hawks prefer to kill the prefer they eat, they don’t mind eating a dead animal as it’s an easy meal. Hawks would appreciate it, especially during winters, when live prey can be hard to be found. So, foxes are no exception for hawks. They would eat a fox, whichever way they found it (dead or alive), without thinking twice. They do what they need to do to survive – which includes feeding off carcasses if necessary.
Sometimes when hunters eat their prey, hawks are seen sitting on the tree and waiting for that predator to leave the scene. As soon as it goes, hawks come down and eat the leftovers, if there are any. During such conditions, they will eat the dead animal; it doesn’t matter if it’s a fox or another animal.
How Do Foxes Defend Themselves Against Hawks?
Generally, foxes defend themselves from hawks, or for that matter, from all predators, by building dens and small burrows in grasslands.
Kit foxes (baby foxes) are the ones that many predators target as they are easy to target because of their size and strength. Because of this reason, they usually don’t go out of the dens and mostly stay with their mother until they are six weeks old. They are guarded by adult foxes all the time.
When under attack, foxes use their sharp teeth and claws for protection. Foxes usually try to avoid exposing themselves to potential predators. When they get spotted, they will rely on their agility and speed to escape predators if they still have the chance. They would only fight back when they can’t escape, and there is no option except to fight.
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Do Foxes Eat Hawks?
We know that hawks are at the top of the food chain, so naturally, they have very few predators and nowhere near how many animals they hunt.
However, almost every predator is someone’s prey in this nature, which is good for the environment as it helps keep the two species in balance. Some of the most common predators of a hawk are raccoons, great-horned owls, larger eagles, and other hawks. But a baby hawk can have more predators than an adult, which may also include foxes.
If a fox spots a helpless baby fox, it grabs and eats the opportunity. A fox may also eat an injured hawk that can’t fly and the hawk’s eggs if they are reachable. They are known to sneak into other birds’ nests and eat their eggs and babies.
Foxes look for hawks and other birds’ nests that are not too high, and they wait on the ground for adult hawks to leave the nest. As soon as they get the chance, they will go and eat everything they can. There is a reason why they are called ‘cunning’.
What Are The Other Birds of Prey That Eat Foxes?
Apart from hawks, there are some other birds of prey that consume foxes. They are:
Eagles are also apex predators and supreme birds. They are so strong that they are known to seize prey weighing around five times their own weight.
Most of the eagle’s diet consists of fish (if they live near a water body), supplemented by birds and mammals. So, foxes are not on the first page of the eagles’ diet, but still, they hunt them if they have to. And eagles generally go after kit foxes as they are more effortless to target and easy to fly carrying their weight.
Another bird of prey, the Falcons, lives in every part of the world except for Antarctica. They mostly fed on small birds and insects.
They usually do not prey on grown foxes, but they may eat when found a dead one. They may also hunt fox pups when hungry and there is no other source of food, but compared to other birds of prey, they wouldn’t do this often.
The great-horned owl (the largest owl species) has a 5-feet wingspan and is known to hunt exclusively at night.
A significant portion of a great-horned owl’s diet comes from mammals., which can include foxes as well. These birds are known for their silent hunting abilities, and they catch their prey with such precision and almost with no mistakes.
Many people may wonder whether hawks eat foxes. Hawks are known for their hunting skills, and they have a wide variety options of prey that they can hunt. Foxes are on the list too, but they are not as common as other animals that a hawk typically hunts.
When hunting foxes, a hawk would primarily target small and helpless foxes.