How Much Weight Can A Hawk Carry

How Much Weight Can A Hawk Carry?

Hawks, as well as other raptors, are incredibly impressive predators. Compared to humans, their eyesight can be four to eight times enhanced.

Plus, many of the species have adapted to quiet and fast flight, allowing them to easily ambush prey. 

However, impressive hunting abilities aside, the very nature of these aerial carnivores may raise some questions among pet owners and nervous parents, such as: how much weight can a hawk carry? 

Let’s find out!

Photo by Paul Harrison

How Much Weight Is A Hawk Able To Pick Up?

Hawks are powerful and strong birds of prey that rely on hunting and eating small animals to survive. As such, it’s only natural to think that hawks are incredibly strong, and are able to carry large weights into the sky. 

However, this isn’t necessarily true. Hawks are somewhat limited due to their weight, as such, they aren’t able to carry anything that is heavier than themselves. Since most hawks weigh around 1 to 2 pounds, they can’t carry anything more than this. 

The only exception can be found in the Ferruginous Hawk, this is a large species of hawk, the female of which can weigh up to 4 pounds. The Red-tailed Hawk is also a large species weighing up to 2.5 pounds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has outlined that the Red-tailed Hawk is able to lift prey up to a weight of 5 pounds but they rarely attempt to do so. That is because carrying this much weight requires tons of energy from the hawk, therefore, they tend to stick to lighter and smaller prey. 

Photo by naturespicsonline

What Is The Biggest Animal A Hawk Can Carry?

Generally, hawks will prey on small animals, including mice, lizards, songbirds, snakes, rabbits, insects, and rats. 

Larger species of hawk, including Red-tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks, will occasionally hunt poultry, including small turkeys and chickens.

In theory, these larger hawks could also take kittens or puppies. While these are rare, they can still take place – notably during situations where food is in a shortage. Since hawks are opportunistic creatures, they typically take what they can get. 

Can Hawks Carry A 12-Pound Dog?

There are many tales of hawks being able to swoop down from the sky and lift a full-grown dog off the ground right before the careful watch of the owners. However, this simply isn’t the case. 

Based on these rumors, it would suggest that hawks are able to easily lift a 12-pound dog from the ground, as well as other fully grown cats, dogs, and other larger creatures. 

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about a hawk swooping down and snatching your pet, these rumors remain rumors. 

Across the world, there have been many cases of hawks killing small raccoons, dogs, and even slightly larger animals. From here, they drag the remains to be eaten somewhere else – all without having to lift a feather into the sky. 

Although again, these cases are somewhat rare. The hawk would have to be incredibly powerful and large to be able to take on your family pet head-to-head. 

Photo by Brett Sayles

Can Hawks Carry A Cat?

Since cats are generally much smaller than dogs, does that make them more at risk of becoming prey to the hawk?

Hawks are not likely to pick up and carry off with something that weighs over 5 pounds, and since most full-grown cats weigh more than this, the chances are rare. 

However, hawks are perfectly capable of attacking cats straight on the ground. From here, they will kiss, crush, and drag them to a safe place to be eaten. But it is more of an equal fight and the cat is likely to put up a good defense. 

Therefore, if you have kittens that are worried about hawks in the area, then the best thing to do is to never leave them alone outside.

You only really need to worry if you have noticed hawks stalking the area and tracking your cat or others in the surrounding environment. 

Photo by Dick Daniels

Final Thoughts

Hawks are impressive and awe-inspiring creatures. However, in turn, they are also one of the deadliest animals in the world. 

These birds of prey are known to swipe down from the sky and pick up unsuspecting prey for their next dinner. 

However, that said, they are somewhat limited in their abilities, too. Hawks are only able to pick up animals that weigh less than their body weight. 

This means you don’t have to worry about them snatching your pets anytime soon.


What is the biggest hawk ever recorded?

A female Ferruginous Hawk was weighed at nearly 4.5 pounds (from Cornell Lab).

What is the most badass hawk?

The Northern Goshawk has the reputation for being aggressive and vicious as well as agile and swift.Northern goshawk in the forest

What is stronger than a hawk?

Eagles are pretty much the only species that are larger and stronger than hawks although the Great Horned Owl will predate on some smaller species of hawk.

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