Do African Fish Eagles Eat Hawks?


Do African Fish Eagles Eat Hawks?

African fish eagles are large birds of prey that primarily feed on fish, but they are also known to prey on other birds, including hawks. While fish make up the majority of their diet, these powerful raptors are opportunistic hunters and will take advantage of any available prey, including smaller birds.

Do African Fish Eagles Prey on Hawks?

Yes, African fish eagles have been observed hunting and consuming hawks. While hawks are not a primary food source for these eagles, they will occasionally target them as prey. The African fish eagle’s large size, powerful talons, and sharp beak make them capable of overpowering and killing smaller bird species, including hawks.

Hunting Behavior of African Fish Eagles

do african fish eagles eat hawksImage source: African fish eagle above water by Mehmet Karatay

African fish eagles are skilled hunters that use a variety of techniques to catch their prey. They typically perch on a high vantage point, such as a tree or rock, and scan the water for fish. When they spot a suitable target, they swoop down and snatch the fish from the water with their sharp talons. They are also known to steal prey from other birds, a behavior known as kleptoparasitism.

In addition to fish, African fish eagles will also hunt for other prey, including:

  • Waterbirds (e.g., ducks, ibis, storks, herons, flamingos)
  • Small mammals (e.g., rodents, hares)
  • Reptiles (e.g., snakes, lizards)
  • Amphibians (e.g., frogs)

Factors Influencing the Prey Selection of African Fish Eagles

The prey selection of African fish eagles is influenced by several factors, including:

  1. Availability of prey: The abundance and accessibility of different prey species in the eagle’s habitat will determine what they primarily hunt.
  2. Prey size and vulnerability: African fish eagles are more likely to target smaller, more vulnerable prey, such as young or injured birds, rather than larger, more formidable prey.
  3. Hunting strategy: The eagles’ hunting techniques and abilities, such as their flying speed, maneuverability, and strength, will influence the types of prey they can successfully capture.
  4. Seasonal changes: The availability of different prey species may vary throughout the year, leading to changes in the eagles’ diet.
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Adaptations for Hunting

African fish eagles have several physical adaptations that make them well-suited for hunting and catching their prey:

  • Large, powerful talons: Their sharp, curved talons are used to grasp and hold onto slippery fish and other prey.
  • Hooked beak: The eagles’ hooked beak is ideal for tearing and ripping apart their prey.
  • Excellent eyesight: African fish eagles have exceptional eyesight, which allows them to spot prey from a distance and track their movements.
  • Powerful wings: Their large, broad wings enable them to soar and swoop down on their prey with great speed and agility.


While African fish eagles primarily feed on fish, they are opportunistic hunters and will occasionally prey on other birds, including hawks. Their large size, powerful hunting abilities, and diverse prey selection make them formidable predators in their ecosystem.

– Safarihub. (n.d.). 8 Interesting Facts About the African Fish Eagles – Blog By Safarihub. Retrieved from
– The Peregrine Fund. (n.d.). African Fish-eagle | The Peregrine Fund. Retrieved from
– (n.d.). African Fish Eagle – Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on Retrieved from
– (2018, July 07). African Fish Eagle – Haliaeetus vocifer – Carnivora. Retrieved from