What Is the Difference Between Hawks and Falcons?

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Hawks and falcons can be differentiated by their wing-shape and hunting habits. Hawks are broader and attack from a low perch while falcons are smaller and attack from high altitudes.

Hawks and falcons are separated by their anatomy and hunting methods. Each species is built specifically to deal with certain prey and as a result have evolved in such a manner.

Hawks are part of the family accipitridae, a classification for all eagles, hawks and kites. All members are diurnal birds with broad wings, hooked beaks and strong legs. They also have a cere, a waxy membrane that covers the upper mandible. Hawks hunt from a perch and generally hunt land vertebrates. They will spy prey it will jump and stoop to gain velocity before striking with the talons. It will squeeze with its feet until vital organs have been pierced and begin to fail. This technique makes the hawk stockier and more prone to perching although hawks do migrate at high altitudes.

The falcon is any raptor in the genus falco. Falco comes from the Latin "falx" meaning "sickle" because of the wing shape. Falcons soar at high altitudes and look for unsuspecting prey. From their high vantage point, the falcon stoops and forms the teardrop shape gaining speed very quickly. The falcon will descend on its prey and strike with talons and beak, either killing the prey instantly or stunning it for a killing blow. As falcons hunt on the wing they target ground vertebrates as well as other birds. The curved wing and smaller frame make the falcon perfectly suited to its form of hunting.