Do Hawks Eat Worms? (And Types of Worm They Feed On)

Do Hawks Eat Worms blog banner

Hawks are well-known predatory birds with a keen sense of sight. They are considered hunters who prey on smaller birds, reptiles and yes, worms.

Their hunting skills are so incredible that birders often protect their other small birds from these predators.

Wild hawks use their sharp vision and keen eyesight, accuracy, and speed to hunt animals.

Because of this, you may think that they are not your typical birds that eat worms, but most hawks feed on worms.

They eat meat from almost anything they can prey on; this includes but is not limited to worms, small reptiles like lizards and other reptiles like snakes, small birds, small rodents and rabbits.

However, because they are quite the hunters, they can change their diet according to what they can prey on and available food sources. A hawk’s diet is very adaptable.

They’ll also eat carrion (dead meat) like vultures do and even eat other birds as prey animals.

Anyway, back to worms!

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into the different types of hawk species and what kind of worms they eat.

Do Hawks Like Worms?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief that hawks hunt more giant animals than other bird species, hawks do eat worms and other small prey.

They prey on whatever they can find, depending on their region.

Hence, a hawk’s diet can vary from rodents, crayfish, reptiles, worms, and insects.

Especially if you consider different species like the red-shouldered hawks that populate areas like the suburbs, they rely on smaller insects and worms for their diet.

Typically, you’ll find a red shouldered hawk hunting earthworms if they are the most widely available worms or food sources in the region where they live.

What Type of Worms Do Hawks Eat?

Hawks typically eat all kinds of worms, but you’ll find that earthworms are the most common worms that hawks tend to prey on.

One of the reasons for this is that they are readily available to them and larger than most worms.

Here are a variety of worms where we’ll explore if it’s a “yes” or a “no” from the hawk:


Earthworms are the most common worm a hawk will eat.

A red-shouldered hawk, for example, is often found in damp places and forested areas with a lot of water bodies with a good population of earthworms.

Hence, hawks tend to prey on earthworms the most.

If you were to look through a hawk’s stomach, you’re going to mostly find the remains of bigger prey that they eat, such as frogs, birds, or snakes.

This is because earthworms do not leave a lot of traces behind.

Hence, the popular notion is that hawks don’t eat earthworms when in fact, they do consume them in their diet.


These will be eaten by the small hawks living in urban areas near a bird feeder, like the American Kestrel.

They don’t tend to make good meals for larger hawks to eat due to their miniscule size.

Especially, when they’re used to hunting more substantial creatures like small mammals or other animals that fall prey to them.

Do Red-Shouldered Hawk Eat Worms?

Yes, red shouldered hawks eat worm meat, though like most species, it’s not their preference.

Earthworms seem to be the easiest prey for Red-shouldered hawks because of their geography.

These hawks live in damp areas where earthworms exist in huge numbers, which is why they are an easy target for red shouldered hawks.

Although these distinctive hawks with red shoulders have a reputation for being deadly raptors, some can survive with just a diet of insects like grasshoppers, frogs, and worms, especially if that is all their geographic location allows them.

Red-shouldered hawks eat a lot of different animals as part of their diet, and it includes worms, snakes, bats, mice, lizards, and rabbits.

The red shouldered hawk will even eat birds!

Do Red-Tailed Hawks Eat Worms?

The red-tailed hawk is a large hawk that’s wingspan can reach up to 1.5 metres in length! They can also weigh up to 3 pounds as opposed to most species that top out at 1-2 pounds.

As you can imagine, a worm isn’t even going to touch the sides of the stomach of a bird of this size.

The animals that make up the main staple of their feeding habits are rabbits or hares, as well as rodents like voles, rats and squirrel.

Do Rough-legged Hawks Eat Worms?

Rough-legged hawks are not known to eat worms as much as the other species of hawks.

Since their breeding grounds don’t necessarily facilitate worm feeding, you won’t find them feasting on worms as much as the red-shouldered hawks.

The breeding grounds for the Rough-legged Hawks are typically in the arctic regions of Eurasia and North America.

You’ll find their nesting places on top cliffs, alpine areas, or even uplands (too cold for most earthworms to survive).

If there isn’t much prey for them, they might extend towards more extensive forest grounds.

When the winter sets in, their breeding grounds can vary from open country sides like prairies and semideserts to marshes and dunes.

Hence, their diet also changes according to this.

When they are breeding on arctic grounds, their typical diet consists of rodents and other animals like hares and squirrels.

They also prey on smaller birds of the region.

When it comes to the wintertime, their diet drastically changes from these medium-sized mammals to mice and shrews.

Overall, a rough-legged hawk’s prey is rodents.

Do Hawks Eat Worms blog post image

Do Cooper’s Hawks Eat Worms?

Yes, Cooper’s hawks eat worms, although it is not their primary source of food.

Worms are also a much easier target for hawks because they do not burrow as quickly into the land or get away from the bird’s vision as other kinds of prey..easy pickings!

However, the Cooper’s hawk are medium sized birds of prey and are best known as excellent hunters of smaller birds and usually hunt in the air, rather than the ground.

The most common victims of Cooper’s hawks are jays, starlings, and robins as their preferred prey.

They’ll even be found preying on pigeons and mourning doves in certain regions.

Though, if needed, the Cooper’s hawk has no problem catching and eating small mammals, reptiles, squirrels and rodents on the ground.

This usually happens when the hawks have young baby hatchlings that need a lot of feed, so these hawks will start hunting smaller rodents like squirrels and chipmunks.

If they can catch it, they’ll eat it!

Fun Fact: the Cooper’s hawk can even eat ducks and ducklings when desperate! Though large ducks may be too heavy for them and success depends on their size.

Can Baby Hawks Eat Worms?

Yes, young hawks will feed on worms.

Though, baby hawks are typically fed smaller prey by their parents such as insects and small reptiles when they are still in the nest.

Since they are easier to prey on, the parent hawks will usually catch these smaller prey for their hatchlings.

When young hawks leave the nest to go hunt for themselves, they may initially go for more miniature prey animals like worms.

You’ll also find that they eat lizards, catfish, and carp.

Whenever it rains, you can enjoy watching birds like red-shouldered hawks, both young and older, heading to the ground to peck out some earthworms from the ground with their extremely sharp talons.


Hawks are one of the best hunters and exist in many varying places and climates.

Because of this, you’ll find that a hawk’s diet is highly varied, depending mainly on the type of place they live in and the food available to them.

You might be surprised to find that their diet does not include only meat (including worm) but also smaller insects and reptiles or rodents.

Their diet consists primarily of larger animal meat than the worm to sustain themselves more satisfactorily.

Since the hawk has vision that is so accurate and exceptional hunting skills, it may be difficult to evade hawks from hunting backyard birds or small animals completely.

However, you can still follow measures like making proper shelters and shielded feeders to prevent them from hunting your pets.

On the flip-side, if you want to attract them to your location. Earthworms make a good enough bait if you enjoy watching birds of prey like the hawk do their work.

Fun Fact: The hawk has even been spotted eating other birds of prey like small falcons (as hawks are generally larger in size)! It’s a rare occurrence but desperate times call for desperate measures when a hawk needs to feed.

Also Read: