Hawk vs. Falcon Showdown: Betting on the Skies with Avian Prowess!

Falcon vs. Hawk - difference between Hawk vs. Falcon

High above, set off by the stretched expanse of the sky, two magnificent birds lock eyes, each one exuding its own brand of grace and power. The overlapping attributes of both make us ponder over the notion of hawk vs. falcon. On one side, hawk having broad wings and fierce gaze is known for its unique hunting prowess. On the other, falcon, a sleek and swift bird, is the embodiment of precision and speed.

While these creatures might seem identical at a fleeting glance, dive deeper and you will unfold the difference between a hawk and falcon. Let’s embark on a journey unveiling the mystique of “hawk vs. falcon.”

Scientific NameButeo & AccipiterFalco
Number of Species27040
Height9-24 inches9-20 inches
Length18-26 inches10-24 inches
Weight0.3 to 2.3 kg0.1 to 1.3 kg
Top Speed120-150 km/h  Up to 240 km/h (Peregrine Falcon)
HabitatForests, open country, marshes, meadows, coastal regionsVaries; from arctic tundras to desert regions
   Prey / Diet   Small mammals, birds, reptiles, insectsMostly birds; some species also eat insects, small mammals, reptiles
Lifespan10-20 years12-16 years
Distinctive FeatureBroad wings, varied tail patternsPointed wings, “tooth” on beak
Conservation StatusVaries; many of least concern, some endangeredVaries; e.g., Peregrine Falcon was once endangered but has since recovered

Cultural and Historical Significance

With respect to the ancient civilizations, these birds held conspicuous roles. Falcon, particularly in Ancient Egypt, was scared, signifying Horus – the sky god. Its keen sight manifested clarity and foresight. Hawk, revered by numerous Native American tribes like the Pueblo and Navajo, was regarded as an embodying focus, messenger and vitality.

Over the course of medieval Europe, falconry, the art of hunting with birds, popped up as a sport of nobility. Both of the creatures were trained, but each one possesses distinct roles and prestige in this age-old tradition.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight

When it comes to the size of a hawk, it typically measures between 12 to 24 inches and weighs from 4 ounces to 3 pounds. Across species, the size of a falcon varies significantly. For instance:

The American kestrel – one of the smallest falcons, measures approximately 9 to 12 inches in length and has weight between 2.8 to 5.8 ounces.

The peregrine falcon, usually ranges from 14 to 19 inches in length and weighs between 18.7 to 56.4 ounces.

The gyrfalcon, the largest of the falcon species, measures up to 25 inches in length and weigh up to 74 ounces (4.6 pounds).


The coat of both birds put us at ease pinpointing the notion of hawk vs. falcon. Hawks have a spectrum of whites, browns and grays, most often than not portraying intricate patterns aiding in camouflage. Falcons, on the other hand, normally feature a dual-tone look – the darker hues on their backs and lighter colors underneath.

Distinctive Features

Hawks are equipped with brad, rounded wings, ideal for soaring and navigating through wooded areas. Falcons, contrarily, possess slim, pointed wings, effective for high-speed pursuits in open skies.

Habitat and Distribution

Falcon vs. Hawk - difference between Hawk vs. Falcon

Natural Habitats

Natural habitats are among the most prominent aspects when it comes to sketching the difference between hawk and falcon. Hawks, adaptable and versatile, can be found in woodlands, grasslands and even cities. Falcons, in contrast, lean towards open terrains – coasts, deserts and tundras.

Range and Territories

We find intervention in the territories of these raptors. From North America to Asia, while their path might cross, their opted nesting and hunting fields often differ, lessening direct competition.’

Behavior and Lifestyle

Social Behavior

Spotlighting the world of “hawk vs. falcon” in terms of their social behavior, Hawks, particularly during the course of migration seasons, might be found in groups. Falcons, having solitary nature, are more territorial and frequently prefer solitude.

Hunting Techniques

Hawks, utilizing tree cover or high perches, employ the element of surprise to ambush prey. Falcons, on the flip side, rely on breathtaking aerial dives and unparalleled speed.

Speed and Strength

The peregrine falcon while diving can reach the speed of up to 240 mph, making it one of the fastest animals on the earth. Hawks, while not as fast, recompense with their strength and agility and are capable of tackling larger prey relative to their size. Hawk, with powerful eyesight, soars above looking for prey.

Another attribute, spotlighting the notion of hawk vs. falcon is their dietary preferences; their diet differ, that is, hawks have a broader menu, from insects to mammals, while falcons primarily feed on other birds.

Conservation Status

Current IUCN Status

As per IUCN, a plethora of hawk and falcon species fall under the “Least Concern” slot. Notwithstanding, some like the Saker Falcon or the Philippine Hawk are “Endangered.”

Threats Faced

Both majestic creatures of nature have become a victim of habitat loss, pesticide poisoning and, regrettably, poaching. Globally, organizations and enthusiasts work tirelessly, setting up preserves, awareness campaigns and reintroduction programs to shelter these aerial wonders.

In Popular Culture


Movies like “Ladyhawke” make hawk as a central character, signifying freedom and transformation. On the part of falcons, “Star Wars” universe is the most iconic representation with the Millennium Falcon. They’ve also been featured in numerous documentaries, including “The Falcon’s Saga,” spotlighting their amazing hunting techniques.


A renowned poem, “Hawk Roosting” penned by Ted Hughes delves into the mind of a hawk, embodying power and arrogance. Falcon plays an integral part in Dashiell Hammett’s detective novel named “The Maltese Falcon,” symbolizing greed and desire.

Symbols and Emblems

Owing to their keen vision, hawks are time and again are used in logos and emblems in conjunction with surveillance, security or vision-based tech companies. Sports teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, use this creature as an icon of dominance and aggression on the court.

Falcon, particularly the peregrine, is a national symbol of the UAE, signifying Bedouin culture and urge for falconry. In the realm of sports, the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL use the falcon as an icon of precision and speed.


Compared to hawks, which are typically larger birds with shorter wings than falcons, falcons are smaller birds. This is the reason why a falcon is frequently described as having “long wings.” Similar to other raptors, hawks and falcons exhibit sexual dimorphism.

The peregrine falcon holds the title of fastest animal and bird in the world due to its remarkable ability to dive to speeds of over 300 km/h (186 miles per hour) during flight. Above, the coloration is blue gray, while the underparts are white to yellowish white with black bars.

Although falcons and eagles are sometimes mistaken for one another, eagles are larger and more powerful than falcons. They have unique wing structures as well. Eagle wings are round and wide, while falcon wings are long and sharply pointed.

Hawks are respected in Native American cultures for their extraordinary vision and high-altitude flying prowess. Three pounds is the average weight of a red-tailed hawk. About 25% more weight is carried by females than by males. They fly between 20 and 40 miles per hour. When diving, they may travel up to 120 m.p.h.

Given their reputation for swift flight, peregrine falcons are said to be the fastest animals on the planet. The peregrine falcon typically soars between 40 and 60 mph, and that’s just a warm-up. The average bird travels at a respectable 19 to 37 mph.

The largest hawk in North America is the ferruginous hawk. It appears just like the iconic hunter that it is, with its bulging chest and fierce eyes. The adult is brown above with rusty streaks and white below, as the name implies.

Mudassar Ahmad

He is a seasoned blogger since 2012 and an M.Phil graduate in English Linguistics. He captivates readers with his eloquent prose and insightful perspectives. His passion for language and dedication to crafting compelling content make him a trusted voice in the online sphere. Explore the world through Ahmad's literary lens.

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