How Do Hawks Eat Pigeons?

Hawks eat pigeons by hunting them down and using their powerful talons to grab and kill the pigeons. Once they have the pigeon in their grip, they may suffocate it by squeezing it with their talons. Hawks will then consume the pigeon whole, usually swallowing it headfirst. This is one of the various methods that hawks use to hunt and eat their prey.

How Do Hawks Eat Pigeons

How Do Hawks Kill Pigeons?

Hawks kill pigeons by using their sharp talons to quickly grab and hold the prey. Once they have the pigeon securely in their grasp, they may use their beak to pierce through the bird’s neck or head, resulting in a quick death.

1. Using Talons or Claws:

Hawks use their sharp talons, strategically placed with three front-facing and one backward-facing, to pierce through the skin of the pigeon, killing it.

2. Biting using their Sharp Beaks:

Hawks also use their sharp beaks in combination with their talons to kill pigeons.

3. Choking using its Strong Feet:

Hawks have feet designed with tendons that easily lock into place, allowing them to hold a pigeon firmly until it dies from lack of airflow.

3. Breaking the Neck of the Pigeon:

Hawks may wrap their feet around the neck of a pigeon and squeeze, causing the neck to break and killing the bird.

Which Hawks Eat Pigeons?

Pigeons are a common food source for many kinds of hawks. Some of the most commonly known hawks that eat pigeons are the Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon.

1. Sparrowhawks:

  • Female sparrowhawks prey on pigeons more than males due to their large size.
  • They kill pigeons by squeezing them and stabbing them with their claws.

2. Goshawks:

  • Common in North America, goshawks use their hooked beak and sharp talons to catch pigeons.
  • They also use their broad wings to catch pigeons in flight.
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3. Cooper’s hawk:

  • Female cooper’s hawks, being more bulky than males, often hunt for pigeons in city parks.
  • They kill pigeons by repeatedly squeezing them with their feet.

4. Red-tailed hawk:

Although less commonly found in backyards, red-tailed hawks eat pigeons using their large claws to grasp and kill their prey.

5. Harrier hawks:

While not primarily focused on pigeons, if given the opportunity, they won’t hesitate to catch and eat them.

What Are The Consequences Of A Hawk Eating A Pigeon?

The consequences of a hawk eating a pigeon are serious. While the hawk gets food, the pigeon dies. The pigeon’s body is not easily digestible by a hawk, potentially making the hawk sick or causing death.

Ingesting a pigeon also means ingesting the pigeon’s parasites, which can infect the hawk and make it ill. Preying on a pigeon can also impact the local ecosystem by reducing the pigeon population, which can have a ripple effect on the ecosystem as a whole.

This can lead to a decline in the number of pigeons, affecting the balance of the ecosystem. Overall, the consequences of a hawk eating a pigeon are significant and can hurt both the hawk and the local ecosystem.

Protecting Your Pigeons from Hawks: Tips and Strategies

Keeping your pigeons safe from hawks is important. Hawks are natural predators that have been around for thousands of years, so it’s best to be prepared to prevent them from attacking your flock. Here are some tips and strategies for protecting your pigeons from hawks:

  1. Identify Peak Hawk Activity: Determine when hawks are most active and avoid letting your pigeons out during those times.
  2. Secure Enclosure: Keep pigeons in a predator-proof enclosure with wire mesh to prevent hawk access.
  3. Don’t Overfeed: Avoid overfeeding pigeons to prevent them from becoming slow and an easy target for hawks.
  4. Use Deterrents: Place reflective objects, owl decoys, bird audio devices, and hawk balls around your property to deter hawks.
  5. Feeding Practices: Keep feeders out of open spaces and avoid ground feeding to reduce the risk of hawk attacks.
  6. Eliminate Perch Points: Remove potential hawk vantage points, such as standalone trees or leafless branches, from your surroundings.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If attacks persist, consider hiring wildlife control professionals trained in bird deterrence.
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For more insights on pigeon control methods, consider reading our articles on scaring away pigeons without harming other birds and using sound to deter pigeons. These articles provide practical tips and advice for effective pigeon control.


What Is The Nutritional Value Of A Pigeon To A Hawk?

A pigeon has a lot of nutritional value to a hawk. A pigeon is a good source of protein and fat, and it also provides a lot of essential nutrients that a hawk needs to stay healthy.

How Does The Size Of A Pigeon Affect A Hawk’s Ability To Eat It?

A hawk’s ability to eat a pigeon is affected by the size of the pigeon because the bigger the pigeon, the harder it is for the hawk to get its mouth around the pigeon’s body.

What bird of prey kills and eats pigeons?

Besides the peregrine falcon, other birds of prey that frequently hunt pigeons are sparrowhawks and cooper’s hawks. The sparrowhawks will even kill racing pigeons.

How often do hawks eat pigeons?

It depends on the size of the hawk and pigeon. Some hawks can eat up to eight small pigeons a day. However, other species of hawks like the Ferruginous can survive only one mature rock pigeon for a couple of days.

Are pigeons scared of hawks?

Yes. Although pigeons are very smart birds of prey, they are generally scared of their predators, including owls and hawks. However, they are not afraid of humans, which explains why they are more concentrated in urban settings.

Do hawks eat baby pigeons?

Yes. Hawks do not spare baby pigeons in their hunt. This is because, compared to adult birds, baby pigeons boast a smaller wingspan and cannot fly as quickly to get away. Therefore, hawks eat them because they are an easy target.

Why do hawks sometimes eat pigeons in the middle of city streets?

Some pigeons are too heavy for hawks to fly off with, leading hawks to eat them in the middle of city streets.

Can Roadside hawks eat pigeons?

Yes, Roadside hawks can eat pigeons since they are carnivores, although they mainly feed on giant insects.


Witnessing the incredible hunting skills of hawks as they prey on pigeons can be both awe-inspiring and a reminder of the intricate balance of nature. While it may not be a sight for the faint of heart, it serves as a powerful reminder of the circle of life and the survival instincts of these magnificent birds.

So next time you spot a hawk soaring through the sky, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and ferocity of these skilled hunters.

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of I have kept pigeons as pets for over 20 years and have written several articles. Here in this blog, I cover topics such as how to care for pigeons, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.