Hawks and ravens are natural enemies. One is among the most dangerous predators in the animal kingdom while the other is one of the world’s most intelligent birds.
In an epic raven vs hawk duel, which bird has better odds of winning?
To determine the outcome of this fight, we will use the available information and analyze what would happen if a full-grown and healthy hawk was to clash with a full-grown healthy raven.
Since there are more than 270 hawk species in the world, we will be comparing USA’s most common red-tailed hawks with common ravens.
Before we start, who do you see winning this duel?
Comparing Ravens And Hawks
|Size||– Length: 21-26 in|
– Weight: 1.5-4.4 lb
– Wingspan: 45–51 in
|– Length: 18–26 in |
– Weight: 1.5-3.8 lb
– Wingspan: 41.3-57.8 in
|Speed And Movement||– 25-40 mph when flying||– 20-40 mph when flying|
– 120 mph when diving
|Grip Force||– n/a||– 200 PSI|
|Senses||– Strong sense of sight|
– Acute hearing
– Decent sense of smell
|– Incredible sense of sight|
– Acute hearing
– Decent sense of smell
|Defensive Powers||– Flying to escape|
– Excellent eyesight to spot danger from afar
– Group protection
|– Flying to escape|
– Excellent eyesight to spot danger from away
|Offensive Powers||– Flying at the enemy |
– Pecking (strong beaks)
|– Excellent diving speed (surprise attacks) |
– Strong and sharp beak
– Long and sharp talons
|Aggression Levels||– Low to moderate||– Low to moderate|
The 6 Key Factors In A Fight Between A Raven And A Hawk
Raven Vs Hawk – Size
When it comes to size, ravens have a slight advantage over the hawks.
Ravens measure from 21 to 26 inches in length while hawks are from 18 to 26 inches long. Ravens also outweigh hawks, measuring from 1.5 to 4.4 pounds; hawks are almost half a pound lighter on average as they range from 1.5 to 3.8 lbs.
The only advantage in size hawks have over ravens is the wingspan: they measure 49.55 inches on average compared to the 48 inches ravens span across the wings. A bigger wingspan might help them as an intimidation tactic.
It should be noted that female hawks are around 25% bigger than male hawks; this is not the case with ravens.
Raven Vs Hawk – Speed, Movement, And Agility
When it comes to regular flying/gliding speed, ravens have a slight advantage over hawks. Hawks, on the other hand, are masters of surprisingly fast flights when swooping down.
Ravens have long pointed wings to fly fast and maneuver rapidly while in the air. Although fast fliers, the ravens aren’t really the champions.
According to a 2016 study tracking ravens in the Eastern Alps, the fastest recorded raven speed was 25 mph. With human training, ravens can fly faster and reach top speeds of 48 mph.
Hawks prefer to save energy by soaring instead of flapping their wings. When on the hunt, they will make deep wing beats, slowly but deliberately. In the air, hawks move from 20 to 40 mph, but that’s not where they excel. Hawks achieve top speeds of 120 mph when diving down to catch their prey!
Raven Vs Hawk – Senses
Both animals have well-developed senses that would come in handy in this duel, but hawks have a slight advantage due to their incredible eyesight.
Ravens have an acute sense of sight and hearing. Some studies have shown that ravens also have a decent sense of smell, but their main is definitely eyesight.
Hawks have eyesight 8 times better than humans which allows them to notice prey on the ground from 100 feet in the air. Such great vision, combined with their excellent hearing and a decent sense of smell, would help them hone in on their adversary with ease.
Raven Vs Hawk – Bite and Grip Force
Hawks have more dangerous bites and grips than ravens which gives them a big advantage in this duel.
Hawks have very strong feet and sharp talons that can measure up to 1.33 inches long! Their talons can produce a grip strength of 200 pounds per square inch (PSI). For context, an average man has a grip of around 72 pounds, a female around 44 pounds, and a bald eagle around 400 pounds.
Ravens have big and curved beaks that measure from 2.2 to 3.3 inches long – those are one of the largest bills among passerines. There isn’t any available information on their grip strength, but it’s safe to assume that their smaller feet can’t produce nearly as much force as those of hawks can.
Raven Vs Hawk – Defensive Powers
As groups of ravens can be very successful at driving away (usually solitary) hawks – it is tied between the two in this category. Ravens fly faster than hawks and can dart away quickly but hawks have excellent eyesight and can spot danger from miles away.
Ravens possess sharp eyesight and hearing which helps them see an incoming enemy and react. To keep predators away from their nests, eggs, and hatchlings, ravens will work together as a group and drive away attackers without sustaining any injuries.
They are very intelligent and highly aggressive when defending their young. They will sit high in the trees scanning the horizon, and keeping watch on intruding raptors – ravens can instantly recognize a hawk that is miles away and react accordingly.
To keep themselves and their nestlings safe from intruders, hawks will use their size, sharp talons, and beaks. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot danger from great distances and react accordingly. Hawks will often chase away larger raptors like eagles and owls by diving or making very strong calls.
Here’s a video of a pair of common ravens bullying a red-tailed hawk and driving it out of their territory.
Raven Vs Hawk – Combat Skills
Ravens are scavengers and predators that feed on everything from small mammals to nesting birds and eggs, but hawks will have a clear advantage when it comes to combat skills.
Like all raptors, red-tailed hawks kill their prey with their talons. When attacking, they will swoop down with their feet extended and hold their razor-sharp talons out. Three on the front and one on the back (called the hallux) all face forward and help catch, subdue, and kill their prey.
Hawks will circle high in the air and then swoop down quickly to grab their next meal, thrusting their talons in its flesh.
After a successful hunt, hawks will proceed to tear off pieces of meat while holding their prey against a perch. Their bills are relatively short and hooked but capable of inflicting serious damage.
As apex predators, hawks sit at the top of the food chain – they are the ones that have been hunting and killing for millions of years.
Ravens can be very vigorous when defending their nests from intruders and are very successful at driving off predators. They attack by flying at the enemy and lunging with their large bills.
They are a tough nut to crack and that’s why lots of predators tend to avoid them. Ravens will often come behind hawks and eagles and peck them from behind, especially if they see them around a meal.
Check this video of a raven successfully harassing a bigger raptor and driving it away before feasting on the meal it left.
|Speed and Agility||✔||✔|
Who Would Win In A Fight Between A Raven And A Hawk?
In a fair duel, a hawk would win against a raven. Raven is resilient and slightly bigger, but the razor-sharp talons combined with the powerful grip strength of a hawk would tear the corvid to shreds.
Hawks also have 1.3-inches long talons that are longer than those of ravens – it would be like fighting a sword with a knife.
On the other hand, ravens can hold their own against eagles, vultures, and falcons, although more through strength in numbers than through individual ability.
Their only chance against a hawk would be if a group of ravens harassed and wore down a lone predator – this often happens in nature and there have been many recorded instances of groups of ravens dive-bombing and pecking larger predators to drive them away.
But in a 1v1 fight, a raven would most likely end up as dinner for the hawk.
If you liked this article, make sure to read about the duel between a raven and a bald eagle or the duel between a condor and an eagle