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Do Hawks Eat Foxes & When?

Hawks typically don’t eat foxes, as foxes are much larger than them. However, hawks may prey on foxes under certain circumstances, such as if a baby hawk is alone, or if they come by a dead fox.

Hawks are skilled hunters. But can they take down a fox? This question has been discussed by bird enthusiasts extensively.

Some people swear that they have seen a hawk take down a fox, while others insist that this never happens.

So what is the truth? Do hawks eat foxes? And if so, when do they do it?

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of hawk and fox interactions in more detail and try to answer these questions.

Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Hawks do not typically eat foxes. The reason why is simple: hawks are much smaller than foxes and are hence at a disadvantage when it comes to a fight. 

While hawks typically don’t prey on foxes, it does happen under certain circumstances.

Birds of prey do occasionally attack baby foxes but typically don’t get involved with adult foxes. Even if a hawk caught and killed an adult fox, it would weigh too much for the hawk to fly away with.

hawk standing on prey

How Often Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Hawks eat foxes very rarely. Foxes aren’t part of hawks natural diet, which mostly consists of small mammals, birds, insects, and rodents, not medium-sized predators.

When Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Hawks eat foxes when they’re scavenging for carrion meat (dead animals), if they’re attacking as a group, or if they’re able to catch an unsuspecting baby fox.

Hawks do not have a regular diet. Some may eat small mammals, other birds, fish, amphibians, and different insects[1]

One animal that hawks rarely targets is the fox. Here are a few instances when hawks do eat foxes:

  • When they’re scavenging
  • When they’re hunting as a group
  • When they can catch a baby fox

Read about each circumstance in detail in the next sections.

When They’re Scavenging for Carrion

Hawks are known to be carnivorous and survive primarily by catching and eating other animals[2]. While this is true, hawks are also scavengers, meaning they eat the leftovers from other predators, a.k.a. carrion meat or dead animals.

Hawks have been known to eat dead animals for numerous reasons. For one, hawks are opportunistic feeders. They’ll eat what’s easily accessible. On top of that, when carrion meat is available, they don’t have to waste energy hunting, as the animal has already been killed.

When hawks come across dead foxes, they won’t pass on the opportunity for an easy meal.

Related: Do Hawks Eat Dead Animals?

Do Hawks Eat Carrion (Dead Animals)

When Attacking as a Group

Alone, hawks aren’t very strong. However, when attacking as a group, hawks have many advantages. They are able to attack with more power and force, as they’re working together. 

This is why they generally eat large prey items when hunting together, but not alone.

When hunting in groups, their success rate in catching prey compared to when they hunt alone is much higher. Hence, they can also prey on foxes. It’s still much more dangerous for hawks than hunting birds though.

Hawks Prey on Baby Foxes

In the animal kingdom, it’s common for predators to prey upon smaller animals. Since a hawk is a bird of prey, this applies to them as well.

However, much like eagles and other birds that feed on small mammals and reptiles, there are instances when even hawks will prey upon the most vulnerable members of a species: the offspring. 

While adult foxes are bigger than hawks, baby foxes are not. They’re quite small and can be picked off by hawks.

Related: How Much Weight Can a Hawk Carry?

baby fox on the grass

How Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Before hawks attack, they’ll scout for prey from the sky, or perch high above the ground. They’ll remain silent, waiting for the best time to strike. This allows them to have the element of surprise, and will hence catch the fox off guard.

Hawks attack using a high-speed dive. When attacking foxes, they’ll either soar in the sky or perch from a tall tree. As foxes are mostly concerned about predators on the ground, hawks make use of the element of surprise.

As hawks dive down, they extend their claws, which they’ll use to strike their prey, in this case, a fox.

Hawks can dive at about 120 mph, which is faster than any land animal can run.

When the hawk finally attacks, it’ll target the head and eyes of its victim. Hawks can, and do, cause a lot of damage when they attack; their talons are very sharp.

Related: How do hawks kill their prey?

What Do Hawks Normally Eat?

Hawks, like all birds of prey, only eat meat. They can be found eating almost any type of vertebrate. Some common prey includes rabbits, squirrels, birds, insects, and even skunks.

Different hawks eat different things. Hawks are split into two groups: Accipiter and Bueto. The first primarily preys on birds, while the second primarily preys on mammals and rodents.[3]

Their diet is also constricted by their habitat, location, and other factors.

Hawks also eat a lot of carrion, meaning they eat already dead animals.

Related: What Do Hawks Eat?

hawk scavenging

What Other Animals Prey on Foxes?

Foxes are able to survive in a wide range of environments, from open land to forests and even in urban areas. 

However, they’re not alone. Foxes typically live in areas with plenty of other predators, such as wolves, coyotes, and eagles.

Here are some of the most frequent animals that prey on foxes.

Wolves

Wolves (Canis lupus) are probably the most well-known predators of foxes. The two species are direct competitors for resources, which leads to violent turf wars. Foxes rely on their speed and cunning to evade wolves, but some unlucky individuals fall prey to the skilled hunters that wolves are.

Both species, like most canids, have similar diets, as both animals scavenge and eat small mammals. However, wolves primarily prey on ungulates, while foxes primarily feed on small animals.

Related: Do wolves eat foxes?

wolf eating its prey

Coyotes

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are the second-largest canid in North America, next to wolves. They live all across North and Central America, and they live in a variety of habitats.

These large dogs are some of the most common predators of foxes, if not the most common. 

Coyotes hunt alone, and hence can’t take down large prey as wolves can. Instead, they turn to smaller animals, such as foxes, to feed on.

coyote in canada

Eagles

One of the fiercest birds of prey, eagles, are a common predator of foxes. Eagles are large and powerful birds which makes them efficient predators, even when hunting larger animals such as foxes.

Eagles typically attack from behind the fox’s back, coming down from above with their claws forward to capture it.

Eagles

Owls

Owls mostly prey on small-bodied animals such as rodents and mammals. Many owls hunt small prey, but some hunt larger prey such as foxes.

With a wingspan that can exceed 5 feet, owls can become very large. Hence, they’re capable of hunting down foxes, though they typically target smaller animals such as mice or voles.

Conclusion

Hawks typically don’t eat foxes, as a hawk is smaller than a fox. However, there are some exceptions, such as when they eat dead foxes when they hunt in groups, of when they prey on baby foxes.

When attacking, hawks use their high speed to attack their prey, catching them by surprise. They use their claws to kill the prey, whereas other birds of prey typically use their beaks.

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.