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Baby Hawk: What Are They Called & What Do They Look Like?

A baby hawk is also known as an eyas. Baby hawks are very small, featherless birds when they hatch. They eat a lot and grow rapidly in the first weeks of their life.

Hawks mate in the spring. The female will eat more food so she has the energy to lay her eggs in the nest.

After a while, when the eggs hatch, baby hawks are born. They’re very small, eat a lot, and are taken care of by their parent.

This article is all about baby hawks. We’ll discuss what they look like, what they eat when they can fly, and what they’re really called.

What Are Baby Hawks Called?

A baby hawk is called an eyas. An eyeas can also be used to describe a young falcon. These are younglings that haven’t learned to fly yet.

The term eyas is used to describe baby hawks or baby falcons[1], specifically young birds that haven’t learned to fly yet.

The term “eyas” is derived from the Middle English word “a nis,” which means a nestling or a baby. This word comes from the french word “neias”, and was originally a linguistic mistake.

The term also has roots in Latin, coming from Davis (meaning bird) and nasci (meaning to be born).

baby hawk close up

Baby Hawks Life Cycle

Day 1 The baby hawks emerge from their shells. They don’t have any strength in their muscles and will lie limp for the first hours, and are very dependent on their parents.
Day 2-5 The eyasses start being more active. They’ll start making noises, and will start moving their wings.
Day 7-9 Baby hawks begin to show aggression, pecking prey and each other.
Day 10-15 The young hawks will start to make whistling noises, and will typically stop acting out toward each other.
Day 16-20 They will start showing aggression toward intruders and will begin using their talons and wings to act out at prey.
Day 21-29 The young will start using their talons, wings, and beaks even more, and can tear prey apart themselves.
Day 30-41 The baby hawks start stretching their wings, using them more regularly.
Day 42-48 The baby hawks leave the nest.
After they leave the nest Juveniles typically stay in the same area for a while. They’ll still be fed by their parents for the coming weeks or months.

What Do Baby Hawks Look Like?

Baby hawks are featherless (apart from the natal down) and very small. After two to three weeks, the juvenile flight feathers start to appear, replacing the initial down feathers.

Baby hawks are very small and not able to fly. They depend on their parents for warmth and food. 

When born, they’re not more than some inches long and weigh about 2 ounces. Depending on the species, they may have white, gray, or brown natal down, typically a mix of the three.

It takes between 5 to 11 weeks for baby hawks to filly grow, depending on the species.

hawk nest

How Big Is a Baby Hawk?

Like most baby birds, baby hawks are pretty small. However, baby hawks can be very different in size depending on the species of hawk.

The baby red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), or eyas, is generally about 4 to 8 inches long and weighs about 2 ounces. 

How Much Do Baby Hawks Weigh?

The baby hawk’s weight can vary depending on several factors, one being the species. 

For example, baby red-tailed hawks weigh about 2 ounces (58 grams). An American kestrel baby hawk can weigh between 3.5 ounces (100 grams), while baby broad-winged hawks are much bigger at 7 ounces (200 grams).

What Does a Baby Hawk Sound Like?

Baby hawks start making noise already on day 2 after hatching. At first, these are soft peeping calls, but after about 10 days they begin to make high whistling sounds.

Baby hawks quickly pick up on vocalizations. Already on day 2, for some species, they begin to make slight calls, typically to get the attention of their parent, or because they’re hungry.

After about 10 days they start to emit whistling sounds. This is typically done in response to their parent flying above them.   

What Do Baby Hawks Eat?

Eyas primarily eat rodents, rabbits, insects, and small birds. They’re fed by their parents, who’ll throw pieces of meat into the nest. After about 4 to 5 weeks, they can tear prey apart themselves.

One major factor, when it comes to diet, is the species, but most baby hawks eat the following:

  • Insects
  • Small birds
  • Insects
  • Crustaceans
  • Small mammals and rodents

Hawks in the genus Accipiter rely more on birds, while the genus Buteo relies more on rodents, insects, and small mammals.

Related: What do baby hawks eat?

small rat on the ground

In the beginning, baby hawks depend on their parents for food, and even to tear up meat into pieces.

When they grow a little older, they can start to tear meat apart themselves, but they still rely on their parents to hunt for weeks or months to come.

Can Baby Hawks Eat by Themselves?

No, baby hawks can’t eat by themselves – not at first. Their parents will tear up the meat for them. It’s not until week 4 or 5 that they begin to do this themselves.

Baby hawks don’t have sharp beaks and talons when they’re born. These grow out as their bodies grow. Hence, they rely on their parents.

When Do Baby Hawks Leave the Nest?

Baby hawks leave the nest after 42 to 48 days. As they’re born without flight feathers, they need to grow these out before taking flight.

A young, juvenile hawk has to grow out its feathers before taking flight. They also need to learn how to use them, and hence exercise regularly before leaving the nest.

However, flight comes naturally to birds, and they learn quickly. About 1.5 months after they hatch, they’ll be able to take flight.

young hawk staring

When Can Baby Hawks Fly?

Baby hawks can fly after a little over a month, about 6 to 7 weeks after birth. However, they’re not capable of strong flight after an initial 2 weeks.

The eyases stay in the nest for about 28 to 38 days[2]. Towards the end, they will stretch their wings and strengthen their muscles.

After the initial flight, they still aren’t strong flyers. They continue to strengthen their muscles, which are needed to fly properly.

Hawks aren’t fully capable of strong flight until about week 10 when they’ve had a chance to learn how to fly. They’ll also start to hunt with their parents during this stage of their life.

Risks for Baby Hawks

The main risks that baby hawks face are malnutrition, abandonment, and predators. They may be killed before they even hatch.

While baby hawks grow up fast, it still takes time to reach maturity. During this time, they’re very vulnerable to external threats.

Let’s discover a few of the most common risks that baby hawks face as they grow.

Malnutrition & Poisoned Food

Malnutrition and poisoning are among the biggest causes of mortality in baby hawks. 

When baby hawks are just being brought into the world, their parents have to feed them. Sometimes, they can’t do so properly.

All baby hawks are different, and it is up to both parent birds to ensure that all eyases get enough food. This is done by eyas provisioning, where the parent bird brings food into the nest.

Unfortunately, however, malnutrition can still occur, typically due to one of two things: 

  1. Food shortages can result in malnutrition – simply because there isn’t enough food.
  2. People poison their prey, resulting in baby hawks dying from indirect poisoning.

Abandonment

Baby hawks can’t fly. They’re simply incapable, as they haven’t developed their flight feathers. This also means that they can’t hunt, and rely on a lot of their parents.

If the parents leave, the baby hawks will die from starvation. While hawks typically don’t leave their nestlings behind, it can occur.

This typically doesn’t happen unless the parents are killed, either by predators, humans, or other external factors.

Related: Do Hawks Mate for Life?

Predators

Predators are a risk to baby hawks, both before and after they hatch.

Many birds of prey will eat eyasses if given the opportunity[3]. Not only that but scavengers (such as raccoons and snakes) steal bird eggs, as they’re full of nutrition.

What to Do if You Find a Baby Hawk

If you find an abandoned baby hawk, make sure to keep it warm and feed it meat. They can’t eat dairy or plants. Next, call Animal Control.

Without their parents, eyas birds cannot eat or even move around very much. They need to be left in a warm, quiet location with minimal disturbance. 

Conclusion

A baby hawk is called an eyas. This refers to young nestlings that haven’t learned to fly yet. They’re small and rely a great deal on their parents for food. They eat a lot for their size, and grow up fast, leaving the nest after just 6-7 weeks.

They’re born with natal down, which is later replaced by juvenile flight feathers.

About Kaitlin Mullins

Birds are plenty, and they can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, Katilin Mullins has taken charge of these. With plenty of free time spent bird watching, she’s a true expert on these intriguing animals.