What Birds Eat Other Birds

Last Updated on April 19, 2023 by

Hello, fellow bird enthusiasts! As a bird feeding expert, I am often asked about the diets of various species. While we tend to associate birds with seeds and insects, it may come as a surprise that some birds actually feed on other birds.

Yes, you heard that right – there are predatory birds out there who make a meal out of their own kind. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of avian cannibalism and take a closer look at which bird species are known to eat other birds. So grab your binoculars and get ready for an eye-opening journey into the darker side of our feathered friends’ diets.

Understanding Avian Predation

As a bird feeding expert, I have observed and studied the various eating habits of birds. One common behavior is avian predation, where some species prey on other birds for food. This can be seen in raptors such as eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls who are known to capture and consume smaller birds.

These carnivorous bird species have specialized adaptations that enable them to hunt and kill their feathered prey. For example, they possess sharp talons, hooked beaks, and excellent eyesight that aid them in catching and killing their targets. They also have strong digestive systems that allow them to digest bones and feathers which are part of their prey’s diet.

Avian predation plays an essential role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling overpopulation among certain bird species. However, it can also pose a threat to endangered or threatened bird populations if not regulated properly. Understanding these behaviors is crucial in developing conservation strategies for protecting vulnerable bird populations from predators like these carnivorous birds.

Carnivorous Bird Species

Owls are some of the best known carnivorous birds, feeding mainly on small mammals and other birds. Eagles, too, are known for their carnivorous habits and have been known to take down large birds like Bald Eagles. Falcons and Hawks are also fierce hunters and have been known to take down medium-sized birds. Vultures, Kites and Harriers are also known to prey on other birds, but they usually go after smaller ones. Ospreys, Skuas, Jaegers and Aplomado Falcons are all birds of prey that specialize in catching and eating other birds. Lastly, Loggerhead Shrikes and Peregrine Falcons are two of the most feared predators, as they have been known to take down Condors.


Imagine the dark of night, and you hear a soft rustling in the trees. Suddenly, an owl swoops down with razor-sharp talons, catching its prey effortlessly. Owls are one of the most well-known carnivorous bird species known for their exceptional hunting skills, specifically at night time.

Owls’ diet mainly consists of small mammals such as mice or rabbits. However, they have also been known to feed on other birds like songbirds, waterfowl, and even other owls! Their silent flight allows them to sneak up on unsuspecting prey without being heard.

Due to their incredible vision and hearing abilities, owls can spot their prey from far away and hunt with precision accuracy. These fascinating creatures play an essential role in balancing ecosystems by controlling rodent populations and keeping smaller predator numbers in check.


As a bird feeding expert, I find owls fascinating creatures that play an essential role in balancing ecosystems. However, when it comes to carnivorous bird species, we cannot ignore the majestic eagles. Eagles are known for their powerful talons and sharp beaks that help them capture prey with ease.

Eagles’ diet mainly consists of fish or small mammals such as rabbits or squirrels, but they have also been seen preying on other birds like ducks or geese. Their exceptional eyesight allows them to spot prey from far distances and calculate the perfect angle for attack. Moreover, eagles’ incredible speed makes them one of the most deadly predators in the sky.

One interesting fact about some eagle species is that they hunt cooperatively, working together to catch larger prey such as deer or antelopes. This strategy requires excellent communication skills among members of the group and demonstrates their intelligence and adaptability as hunters. Overall, eagles are truly remarkable carnivorous bird species that deserve our admiration and respect for their unique hunting abilities.


As a bird feeding expert, I have shared my admiration for the hunting skills of owls and eagles. Now, let us take a closer look at another fascinating carnivorous bird species – falcons.

Falcons are known for their incredible speed and agility in flight, making them one of the most effective hunters. Their curved talons and sharp beaks allow them to catch prey mid-air with precision. Unlike eagles that hunt cooperatively or owls that rely on stealth, falcons use their impressive aerial abilities to chase down their prey.

One unique characteristic of some falcon species is their ability to dive at high speeds (up to 240 mph!) when catching prey. This tactic, called "stooping," allows them to surprise their target and increase the accuracy of their attack. In addition to small mammals like mice or rabbits, falcons also feed on other birds like doves or pigeons.

Overall, as a bird feeding expert, I find it truly remarkable how each carnivorous bird species has its own distinct hunting techniques and adaptations. From the silent swoop of an owl to the cooperative strategy of eagles to the lightning-fast attacks of falcons – these birds demonstrate nature’s diversity and complexity in the animal kingdom.

The Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a formidable bird of prey known for its sharp talons and powerful beak. They are commonly found in North America, where they hunt small mammals such as rodents and rabbits. However, these hawks have also been known to feed on other birds.

Red-tailed Hawks are opportunistic predators and will take advantage of any food source available to them. This includes smaller birds that may fall victim to their swift attacks. The hawk’s impressive speed and agility make it an efficient hunter capable of catching even the fastest of prey.

While it may seem unsettling that a bird would eat another bird, this natural behavior is vital to maintaining ecological balance. Without predators like the Red-Tailed Hawk, populations of smaller animals could grow out of control, leading to negative consequences for many species within an ecosystem.

As we continue our exploration into birds that eat other birds, let us now turn our attention towards the peregrine falcon – a fierce predator with unique hunting techniques.

The Peregrine Falcon

I’ve studied Peregrine Falcons for years and their breeding habits are truly amazing! Females usually lay 2-4 eggs when they nest, and they usually nest high up on cliffs or buildings. When it comes to diet, Peregrine Falcons mainly eat other birds, and they can dive up to 200 mph to catch their prey! Conservation of these birds is so important, and I believe that protecting their nesting sites is a great place to start. Additionally, providing food sources in areas that are populated by Peregrine Falcons is essential so they can continue to thrive and reproduce.

Breeding Habits

Have you ever witnessed the breathtaking sight of a peregrine falcon swooping down at lightning speed to catch its prey? These magnificent birds are known for their incredible hunting skills, which allow them to take down other birds mid-flight. As a bird feeding expert, I can tell you that this is not only impressive, but also essential for their survival.

Peregrine falcons have unique breeding habits that contribute to their success as predators. Unlike many other bird species, they do not build nests or raise chicks in trees. Instead, they prefer to lay their eggs on high cliffs or tall buildings where they have easy access to open airspace and unobstructed views of potential prey. This allows them to monitor their surroundings and launch surprise attacks on unsuspecting birds.

During breeding season, male and female peregrines work together to protect their nesting site and care for their young. They engage in aerial displays and vocalizations that serve as courtship rituals and territorial warnings. Once the eggs hatch, both parents take turns providing food for the hungry chicks. And what do these chicks eat? That’s right – other birds! Peregrine falcons primarily feed on small- to medium-sized birds such as pigeons, doves, finches, and starlings.

In conclusion we see how amazing it is that peregrine falcons are able to use their unique breeding habits along with extraordinary hunting skills in order survive by eating other birds like themselves during breeding periods; It may seem brutal but it is an effective method of sustaining life within the ecosystem for one animal may be another animal’s meal ticket.


As a bird feeding expert, I am fascinated by the diet of peregrine falcons. These incredible birds are renowned for their hunting skills, which enable them to take down other birds mid-flight. During breeding season, they rely heavily on small- to medium-sized birds such as pigeons, doves, finches, and starlings to feed their hungry chicks.

Peregrine falcons have adapted to be efficient hunters by developing sharp talons and powerful beaks that allow them to catch and kill prey with ease. They also possess extraordinary eyesight that enables them to spot potential targets from great distances. Once they have identified their prey, these fierce predators swoop down at lightning speeds – reaching up to 240 mph – delivering a lethal blow that instantly kills their victim.

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Despite the fact that peregrine falcons primarily feed on other birds like themselves during breeding periods, they play an essential role in maintaining balance within the ecosystem. By keeping populations of smaller birds in check, they prevent overpopulation and ensure that resources are distributed evenly throughout the food chain. It is truly remarkable how these majestic creatures have evolved over time to become one of nature’s most skilled hunters.


As a bird feeding expert, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of conservation efforts when it comes to protecting peregrine falcons. These birds of prey have faced numerous threats over the years, including habitat loss and pesticide poisoning. However, thanks to dedicated conservationists, their populations have rebounded in many areas.

One major success story is the reintroduction of peregrine falcons into urban environments. By providing them with nesting sites on tall buildings and bridges, researchers have been able to increase their numbers in cities across North America. This not only benefits the falcons themselves but also helps control pest species like pigeons that can cause damage to structures and spread disease.

Despite these successes, there is still much work to be done. Continued monitoring and protection measures are necessary to ensure that peregrine falcon populations remain stable for future generations to enjoy. We must continue to support conservation initiatives that prioritize the well-being of these incredible birds so they can continue thriving as one of nature’s most skilled hunters.

The Northern Goshawk

As a bird feeding expert, I must say that the Northern Goshawk is one of the most fascinating birds to observe. With its sharp talons and hooked beak, it preys on various animals including other birds. In fact, the Northern Goshawk is known for being an opportunistic hunter that will take advantage of any chance to catch prey.

The Northern Goshawk’s diet primarily consists of small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels, but they also feed on larger birds like ducks and pheasants. They are able to catch their prey in mid-flight or ambush them from above by diving at incredible speeds up to 50 miles per hour! Their agility and strength make them formidable hunters even among other raptors.

Interestingly enough, despite their reputation for preying on other birds, studies have shown that only a small percentage of their overall diet consists of avian species. Nevertheless, observing a Northern Goshawk hunt down another bird is truly a sight to behold. It’s no wonder why these magnificent creatures have captivated bird watchers for centuries.

Now let’s move onto another fascinating bird that feeds on fellow feathered friends – the Cooper’s Hawk.

The Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is a bird of prey known for its impressive hunting abilities. As an apex predator, it feeds on a variety of small mammals and birds, including other birds. This hawk has been observed preying on species such as pigeons, doves, and smaller songbirds like finches and sparrows.

One key feature that sets the Cooper’s Hawk apart from other raptors is its agility in flight. With long wings and a streamlined body shape, this hawk can easily maneuver through dense forests or urban environments to catch its prey off guard. The Cooper’s Hawk also possesses sharp talons and a hooked beak, which are essential tools for capturing and killing its target.

While some people may view the Cooper’s Hawk as a threat to backyard bird feeders, it plays an important role in maintaining balance within ecosystems. By controlling populations of pest species like rodents and insects, this hawk helps to preserve the health of local habitats. Overall, the Cooper’s Hawk is a fascinating bird with unique adaptations that allow it to thrive in various environments.

As we move onto discussing another bird of prey that shares similar characteristics with the Cooper’s Hawk – the Sharp-shinned Hawk – it is important to note how these two species differ in their behavior and habitat preferences.

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The sharp-shinned hawk is a small but mighty predator that feeds on other birds. With its slim body and short, broad wings, this bird of prey is built for speed and agility in pursuit of its feathered prey.

One of the most common hunting techniques employed by the sharp-shinned hawk is to ambush smaller birds from above or below. It will swoop down from high in the sky with lightning-fast reflexes, using its razor-sharp talons to grab hold of its victim mid-flight.

Despite being one of the smallest hawks in North America, the sharp-shinned hawk’s predatory prowess makes it a formidable hunter in the avian world. Its ability to take down larger birds than itself has earned it a well-deserved reputation as one of nature’s most efficient killers.

Moving onto another apex predator in the bird kingdom, let’s take a closer look at the golden eagle and how it fits into the intricate web of avian feeding habits.

The Golden Eagle

I’m an expert on Golden Eagles and their dietary habits. They typically hunt and eat small mammals and birds, but they can also scavenge carrion. They have amazing aerial hunting techniques that allow them to spot small prey from high up in the sky. Their sharp talons and beaks make them fierce predators that can easily take down other birds.

Dietary Habits

If you’re interested in the dietary habits of birds, then let me tell you about the Golden Eagle. This majestic bird is a top predator and has been known to prey on other birds such as ducks, grouse, and even other raptors like falcons and hawks! The Golden Eagle is an opportunistic hunter that will seize any chance it gets to catch its next meal.

One reason why the Golden Eagle can take down such large prey is because of their powerful talons. Their sharp claws are designed for grabbing onto slippery fish or snatching up smaller mammals with ease. They also have keen eyesight which allows them to spot potential meals from high above, whether they be rodents scurrying through fields or flocks of unsuspecting birds flying overhead.

Despite being fierce predators themselves, Golden Eagles face competition from other scavengers who may steal their kills. These include wolves, coyotes, and even bears who are all more than capable of taking advantage when given the opportunity. For this reason, Golden Eagles must always be alert while hunting or feeding to ensure that they don’t become someone else’s dinner!

In summary, if you want to understand what birds eat other birds, look no further than the Golden Eagle. With its impressive strength and cunning tactics, these raptors are able to take down prey much larger than themselves including other predatory birds. Whether swooping down from great heights or stalking through grassy fields below, nothing stops these apex hunters from getting their next meal!

Hunting Techniques

Now that we have an idea of what the Golden Eagle eats and its competition for prey, let’s delve into their hunting techniques. These birds are known for their stealthy approach when it comes to capturing food. They often use a technique called "still-hunting," where they perch on high points or in trees and wait patiently for their next meal to come within range.

Once they spot potential prey, Golden Eagles will swoop down with incredible speed and precision. Their powerful wings allow them to maintain control while descending towards their target at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour! Then, utilizing their sharp talons, they quickly grab onto the animal with deadly accuracy.

Another hunting technique employed by Golden Eagles is called "stooping." This involves flying high above the ground before suddenly diving downward towards prey below. During this maneuver, these raptors can reach even higher speeds than during still-hunting, making it difficult for animals on the ground to escape.

In conclusion, the Golden Eagle’s hunting techniques showcase both patience and agility as well as raw power and speed. Whether still-hunting from a high point or stooping toward unsuspecting prey below, these birds utilize every aspect of their physical abilities to secure their next meal.

The Bald Eagle

As the Golden Eagle soars through the skies, it is a true symbol of power and grace. Yet despite its impressive wingspan and sharp talons, this bird must still hunt to survive. And like many birds of prey, the Golden Eagle is not above preying on other birds.

In fact, the Golden Eagle has been known to feed on a variety of smaller birds such as grouse, pheasants, crows, and even other raptors. While they primarily hunt mammals such as rabbits and rodents, these versatile predators are well-equipped to take down feathered prey if necessary.

But the Golden Eagle is not alone in its dietary habits. Another iconic American bird – the Bald Eagle – also feeds on other birds from time to time. While their diet mainly consists of fish, Bald Eagles have been observed taking down ducks, gulls, and even other eagles when food is scarce or competition is high.

As a bird feeding expert, I can tell you that while some may find it surprising or unsettling that birds eat other birds, it’s simply nature at work. Birds have evolved over millions of years to become efficient hunters and scavengers in order to survive in sometimes harsh environments. Whether hunting for small songbirds or diving deep into lakes for fish, each species has adapted unique techniques and strategies for securing their next meal.

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And speaking of skilled hunters…next up we’ll be discussing one of North America’s most formidable predators: the great horned owl!

The Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl, also known as the hoot owl, is a formidable predator in the bird world. With its sharp talons and powerful beak, it preys on a variety of creatures including small mammals, reptiles, and even other birds. Yes, you read that right – the great horned owl eats other birds.

This majestic creature has been observed snatching up birds as large as ducks and even herons with ease. Its diet also includes smaller birds like sparrows or finches which are more commonly seen at bird feeders. Great horned owls have even been known to prey upon other raptors such as falcons or eagles.

It’s important to note that while great horned owls do eat other birds, they by no means exclusively target them. In fact, their diet is quite varied and adaptable depending on what’s available in their environment. So next time you hear the iconic "hoot" of a great horned owl at night, remember that this impressive predator may just be out hunting for its next meal – whether it’s another bird or something else entirely.

As we move onto discussing the barn owl, it’s worth noting that despite being fellow members of the owl family these two species have distinct differences in both appearance and behavior when it comes to feeding habits. While the great horned owl can take down larger prey due to its size and strength, the barn owl prefers to hunt smaller rodents like mice or voles using its exceptional hearing abilities.

The Barn Owl

As we discussed in the previous section, the Great Horned Owl is a formidable predator that feeds on various prey, including other birds. However, it’s not the only bird species known to engage in such behavior. Another avian hunter infamous for preying on its own kind is the Barn Owl.

Barn Owls are nocturnal creatures with exceptional hearing and vision, making them highly efficient hunters of small mammals and birds alike. They have been observed attacking and killing other owl species, as well as smaller raptors like kestrels and merlins. These attacks can occur during territorial disputes or when food resources become scarce.

While cannibalism may seem gruesome to us humans, it’s just another aspect of natural selection in the animal kingdom. Birds that eat other birds have evolved specialized adaptations such as sharp talons, powerful beaks, and keen senses to help them survive in their particular niche. Understanding these behaviors and the ecological roles different bird species play can provide valuable insights into our world’s complex web of life.

Moving forward in our exploration of avian predators, let’s take a closer look at the burrowing owl – a unique species that has adapted to living underground and hunting insects along with small rodents outside their burrows.

The Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is a small, ground-dwelling bird native to North and South America. While they primarily feed on insects such as grasshoppers and beetles, they have been known to prey on smaller birds like sparrows and finches. This behavior is not common, however, and only occurs in specific circumstances.

One reason the Burrowing Owl may turn to hunting other birds is when their primary food sources are scarce or unavailable. During droughts or periods of extreme weather, these owls will resort to eating whatever they can find in order to survive. Similarly, if their habitat has been damaged or destroyed, they may be forced to hunt for new prey.

It’s important to note that while the Burrowing Owl does occasionally eat other birds, this makes up a very small portion of their diet overall. In fact, many conservation efforts aimed at protecting these endangered creatures focus on preserving their natural habitats and ensuring that their preferred food sources remain plentiful. By doing so, we can help ensure that the Burrowing Owl continues to thrive without having to resort to unconventional means of sustenance.

  • The Burrowing Owl primarily feeds on insects such as grasshoppers and beetles.
  • They may turn to hunting smaller birds like sparrows and finches when their usual food sources are scarce.
  • Conservation efforts should focus on preserving the owls’ natural habitats and maintaining healthy insect populations.

Note: Markdown format list added in subsequent section topic. – Overall, it is important to study and understand the behavior and habits of owls in order to better protect and conserve these fascinating creatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Birds Hunt And Capture Their Prey?

As a bird feeding expert, I can tell you that birds have some impressive hunting techniques. From soaring high in the sky to diving down at lightning speeds, these aerial predators are designed for success. Some use their sharp talons and powerful beaks to capture prey on the ground while others swoop down from above to snatch unsuspecting victims right out of the air. But regardless of their tactics, one thing remains constant: birds are masters of the hunt. With keen eyesight, lightning-fast reflexes, and incredible agility, they’re able to track down even the most elusive prey with ease. It’s truly a sight to behold – watching these feathered hunters in action is like witnessing nature’s own version of a superhero movie!

Are There Any Bird Species That Exclusively Hunt Other Birds?

Yes, there are bird species that exclusively hunt other birds. One of the most well-known examples is the peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour during a dive to catch its prey. Other birds such as Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks also have been known to feed primarily on other birds. These predatory birds typically use their speed and agility to surprise and capture their victims in mid-flight, often targeting smaller or weaker birds. While they may occasionally eat other food sources, these hunting techniques make it clear that these birds have adapted specifically for catching feathered prey.

How Do Birds Defend Themselves Against Predatory Birds?

Birds have a variety of strategies to defend themselves against predatory birds. Some, like the African jacana, use their long toes and nimble movements to escape quickly across floating vegetation when threatened by raptors. Others, such as the Australian magpie, work together in groups to mob predators and drive them away from nesting sites. Still others rely on camouflage, with species like the common potoo blending seamlessly into tree bark or foliage to avoid detection. And while some birds may fall prey to other bird species that hunt exclusively for feathered meals, most have evolved unique adaptations to protect themselves from these aerial predators.

What Impact Does Avian Predation Have On Bird Populations?

Avian predation can have a significant impact on bird populations, particularly those that are already vulnerable due to habitat loss or other environmental factors. Predatory birds may target not only adult birds but also their young and eggs, causing declines in reproduction and population size over time. However, it’s important to remember that predatory birds play an important role in maintaining ecosystem balance and should be managed carefully rather than eradicated completely. Bird feeders can help protect smaller birds from predators by providing a safe feeding environment where they can eat without fear of attack.

Can Bird Predation Be Prevented Or Controlled In Any Way?

As a bird feeding expert, I know that preventing or controlling bird predation can be a difficult task. While there are some measures that can help to reduce the risk of birds being preyed upon by other birds, such as providing ample cover and nesting areas, it is impossible to completely eliminate this natural behavior. It is important to remember that avian predation plays a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and balancing populations. However, monitoring and managing predator populations through ethical means can help mitigate negative impacts on endangered or threatened species.


In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that the concept of one bird consuming another is a natural occurrence in the avian world. Birds have evolved over time to become adept hunters and skilled at capturing prey through various tactics such as ambush, pursuit and scavenging. While some species exclusively feed on other birds for sustenance, others only do so occasionally.

Despite this reality, it is important to note that excessive predation can have detrimental effects on certain bird populations. However, prevention or control measures are not always feasible nor effective without causing unintended consequences. As experts in the field of bird feeding, we advise observing and understanding the behavior of predatory birds while also taking necessary precautions to protect vulnerable species from harm. Ultimately, coexisting with nature’s intricate balance requires an appreciation for its complexities and a responsibility to mitigate any negative impacts when possible.

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