Hawks are feared creatures, these birds of prey have no problem swooping down, catching, and eating prey. However, baby hawks aren’t so skilled when it comes to finding and catching prey, so, what do baby hawks eat? This article looks into it
Baby hawks eat food regurgitated by their mothers as well as small pieces of meat. The father hawk goes out in search of food then brings it back to the mother to serve to the baby.
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What do baby hawks eat? Domesticated vs wild baby hawk diets
Baby hawks are small, feeble, and vulnerable creatures, unlike adult hawks, baby hawks don’t have well-developed digestive systems, so what do they eat? This question is more interesting when we consider that hawks don’t create milk as many other animals do.
What a baby hawk will eat is dictated by a variety of factors, these include the availability of food, the native habitat of the animal, and the species of hawk in question.
Hawks in the wild:
New hatchlings are tiny and helpless, these vulnerable animals aren’t able to raise their heads never mind find food for themselves.
They are quite small and weak, weighing around 2 ounces, they are quite fragile as well. Because these animals are so fragile, their mothers feed them by regurgitating food directly into their mouths.
A mother hawk will eat prey caught by her mate, the father hawk. She will eat the entire animal, the skin, feathers, and bones. She will partially digest this meal and then regurgitate the partially digested food into the baby hawk’s mouth.
This diet of partially digested meat is essential to baby hawks, this diet helps the young hatchlings grow. A baby hawk’s body cannot break down food at birth, this is why the mother has to partially digest food before serving it to the baby.
Hawks are carnivorous birds, these baby birds will eat meat once they are able to digest foods on their own.
After the father hawks fly out and bring meat back for the family, the mother will rip off very small pieces of meat and feed it directly into her babies beak
This meat can come from a variety of animals. Hawks are opportunistic carnivores, the babies will have access to a variety of foods thanks to their father. They will eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.
Certain hawks have a preference for certain types of meat, red-tail hawks and sparrow hawks, generally feed their babies mice, rodents, rabbits, and insects.
Other hawks will feed their babies snake, squirrel, and raccoon meat. That being said, these birds may have their preferences but what they eat is most dependent on what is available at the time.
The best diet for a baby hawk in your care would be the foods that they would usually eat in the wild. If you can, feed them insects, beetles, birds, small mammals, rodents, and mice.
You’d need to tear this food into small pieces just as a mother hawk would tear small pieces of meat for her baby.
Hand-feeding these animals is not recommended, the best practice would be to feed them using chopsticks.
You should also remember to give the baby hawk water. Do this by serving the water using an eyedropper.
Warning: Keep an eye on the baby’s talons and beaks as these can be very sharp.
What to avoid feeding baby hawks:
A hawk’s body is designed to be able to eat meat and meat alone, they cannot digest plant matter.
They will eat plant matter if offered but their bodies will not be able to digest it. Giving these birds plant matter is especially dangerous to baby hawks because they are in the growing phase.
If they are given plant matter they will slowly die of a lack of nutrients. Thus, you should not feed your baby hawk any plant matter, milk, or bread, only meat
How often do baby hawks eat?
Hawks differ in size based on their gender, females are usually larger than males and because of this size difference, their dietary needs also differ and how often they eat will differ.
Developing birds need to be fed more often than adults but they need to be fed in smaller quantities. The general rule of thumb is to feed a baby hawk every hour or two throughout daylight hours.
Do baby hawks drink water?
Yes, baby hawks drink water, but they don’t get the majority of their water from lakes, streams or other water bodies like other animals do.
Adult hawks, in general, need to drink very little water. The blood and plasma of the prey and insets that they eat supply them with enough water.
Occasionally adult hawks scoop up water or catch a few drops of rain but generally, their water needs are fulfilled by prey. This is the same for baby hawks.
A baby hawks stomach juices and the blood in their prey is enough to satisfy their need for water.
What do adult hawks eat?
Adult hawks are seasoned predators, they will make a meal of whatever is available. They will eat snakes, voles, mice, rabbits, raccoons, possums, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, slugs, and other birds.
They will also eat carrion, crows, and roadkill if need be.
When do parent hawks stop feeding baby hawks?
Parent hawks will stop feeding baby hawks when the babies are old enough to fly and hunt on their own, this happens at around 42 to 46 days old.
However, the young hawks will still keep close to home and will thus benefit from their parents who will still feed their offspring even after they have left the nest.
What should I do with an abandoned baby hawk?
Occasionally hawk nests will be threatened by nest poachers like the great horned owl, when this happens the birds will scramble to another nest. Sometimes, in the scramble, a young hawk chick may accidentally get left behind.
Also, a hawk chick may get knocked out of the nest on accident and may seem abandoned.
Hawks are a protected species. If you find a fallen or abandoned chick, it’s best to call the nearest animal and wildlife protection and control authorities. These people have been trained and know exactly how to deal with an abandoned baby hawk.
In conclusion, baby hawks do not enter the world ready to eat meat. Mother hawks do not produce milk but instead will regurgitate partially digested meat directly into the baby hawks mouth. This regurgitated food will nourish and satisfy the baby hawk.
Once the baby hawk can digest meat on its own the mother will tear off small pieces of meat from an animal and feed it to the baby. Parent hawks will feed their babies a variety of meats including small mammals, birds, reptiles, mice, rodents, rabbits, and insects.
Hawk parents will still feed their young after they’ve grown past being hatchlings.
If you’re reading this article you may also enjoy these other articles on hawks. Click the link to read the article. What are hawks afraid of, when do hawks lay eggs, where do sparrow hawks nest, where do sparrow hawks live, and where do hawks nest.