Why Do Crows Attack Hawks?

Though crows are crowned as the smartest birds on the planet. Yet, they are notorious for being the bullies of the avian world. And so, while they do show aggression towards predators threatening their babies. However, crows leave no opportunity to mock their enemies.

Which means.. 

Most crows attack hawks out of spite rather than actual need.

What are you going to discover in this article? 

  • Why crows dive bomb hawks
  • Why hawks don’t retaliate against crows
  • Do crows mess with hawks
  • Can crows kill hawks

So if you’re interested in all about crows and how they love to tease hawks then you’re going to love this article

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

Why Do Crows Chase Hawks?

Crows chase hawks because they see them as a threat

If they are a threat a crow would not hesitate to chase it away

Especially if a hawk gets too close to a crows nest

Crows would protect their babies from any threat

A hawk would eat their babies so if a hawk is nearby you would definitely see crows chasing a hawk

Why Do Crows Attack Hawks?

They do so, mostly because they can.

You see, hawks and crows are considered arch enemies.

So much so that crows used to teach their offspring regarding hawks.

Over time, both species were genetically imprinted on each other.


Even if a crow has never met a hawk, it will still have disgust for hawks and vice versa.

But a hawk is still a raptor with all its hunting instincts.

It is equipped with sharp talons, a flesh-tearing beak as well as ability to exceed 190km/hour, midair.

In contrast, crows are quite the common birds with regular feet and pointy bills.

Also, they can fly as fast as 100km/hour. 

Ornithologists agree that:

If a hawk grabs a crow, it’s a dead bird flying.

But crows are smart enough to understand all that.

However, their social structure is quite intricate and unique. They live within groups, that are part of a larger crow tribe. 

And so, they never risk fighting a hawk alone.

Instead, hundreds of crows descend from trees to mob out a single hawk.

These crows take turns in jumping on the hawk from behind. 

 Mobbing crows repeatedly make high-pitched sounds and dive bomb the hawk.

However, if crow babies are involved, the crows are more aggressive.

In such a case, crows may go as far as touching the raptor with their beaks or feet.

Some crows may even hold on to hawk feathers.  

That said, crows leave no opportunity to mock hawks. 

It’s almost as if crows enjoy mocking their predators.

So, even if blue jays or starlings start mobbing against hawks, the crows make sure to participate a great deal.

Check out this video of a hawk being dive bombed by crows!

But why would a hawk take such humiliating behavior from crows,

Or, another appropriate question would be 

Why Do Hawks Not Retaliate Against Crows?

Mainly because hawks have a superior judgment ability.

Among raptors, hawks have one of the most developed brains with compact nerve endings in “Dorsal Ventricular Ridge.

Consequently, hawks can decide which battles are potentially losing. 

Therefore, hawks understand that they cannot take on more than one or two crows at a time.

And so, fending off against an army of crows is physically impossible.

More appropriately,

The fight between a hawk and crows is more like a single Assassin against an extensive Mafia.

Therefore, a hawk trying to catch a mobbing crow will be risking being poked to death

But even though dealing with a group of crows is not easy.


Killing a single crow is also quite difficult.


Because an average crow is almost the size of a small-statured hawk. 

Now, normally a hawk dive bombs its prey, grabs the victim in its talons, and squishes the life out of it.

Then the raptor flies away with its prize.

But when hawks attack relatively bigger targets say rabbits or gophers.

Then squeezing the prey to its death may be impossible. 

In such a case, a hawk would sit on its prey while crushing the target under its weight as well as with its talons.

Hawks often remove the victim’s fur or feather to further the trauma of their target.

Though this is simple enough for hunting animals on the ground.

However, a crow is large enough to not be easily squeezed to its death by a hawk (as shown in figure 1 below).

Though, seizing an unaware crow sitting on the ground will be a bit easy. However, 

An airborne crow can escape in six different directions.

Also, despite the ability to achieve a dive speed of 200km/hour, hawks cannot steer through winds within short distances employing the same precision.  

Hence, most hawks would not mess with crows. 

Figure 1: Comparison between Hawks and Crows General Abilities


Do Crows Mess with Hawks?

They do, but only when they perceive that they will get away with it.

Normally, a hawk would not even show much offense to mobbing crows.

And so, crows would make sure to mob out any hawk from their territory. 

However, a hawk is unlikely to leave the territory if there are hawk hatchlings involved.

Besides, a nesting hawk is so aggressive that it may even attack humans or larger beasts. 

Since crows are extremely intelligent birds, with the ability to use logical reasoning as well as tools.

Therefore, crows don’t try to mob a nesting hawk. 

In fact, crows don’t even fly around a hawk’s nest, making it some “No Fly Zone”.

Though rarely, a hawk may attack crows even outside its breeding season. 

This may occur when a hawk:

  1. Is too young or inexperienced.
  2. Is famished to the point of death, and eating a crow seems like the only solution.
  3. Has a mate nearby.
  4. Is experiencing unusual testosterone levels.
  5. Knows that the crow is alone.

Usually, if a hawk kills a crow, then crows become hostile enough to kill that hawk. 

Which leads me to my next point.. 

Do Crows Kill Hawks?

They certainly can.

Obviously, hawks are stronger than crows.

However, crows are clever birds.

They can recognize their dead and even hold funerals for their fallen fellows.

Also, they even scold people who are seen around a crow corpse. 

If a hawk kills a crow, the crows will poke that hawk to death.

This is precisely why no sane raptor eats crows as their staple diet.

Therefore, most raptors would rather leave crows alone. 

An exception to this rule is owls. 

But to be fair, owls are the freaks of the avian world.

They even lack the ability to feel fear.

Consequently, owls may even search for crows to eat them.

Related article – Are crows afraid of owls?

That aside, crows defend their own kind whenever and however they can.

Owing to their intelligence and mocking tendencies, it is fair to assume that:

Crows are both the nerds and the bullies of the avian world. (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Crow Characteristics Making Them the Avian Nerds and Avian Bullies

Though rarely, if a crow were to come near some unattended hawk nest, it may not leave the hatchlings alive.

Related articles

Do crows eat crows 

Can crows talk?

Do hawks eat crows?

Do Crows Chase Hawks?

Yes they do

Why do they do it?

It’s because they can

I guess it’s a way of showing hawks “You can’t mess with us”

I mean, hawks are not very popular near bird feeders and that’s where crows tend to hang about

Now if they see a hawk you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to chase the hawk

It’s not actually chasing but more of a mobbing type of behavior

They will all gang up on the hawk and basically mob him till the hawk flies off

Crows are the “gangsters” of the avian world so a hawk would not want to mess with them!

Final Words 

Despite being crowned as the smartest birds, crows are the bullies of the avian world.

And so, they leave no opportunity to mock their enemies.

They often mob out hawks.

While most hawks silently endure this behavior.

However, sometimes a hawk may turn around and take down a crow or two.

In such a scenario, crows become violent enough to peck the raptor to its death.

I guess you don’t want to mess with crows!

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