Falcons, hawks, and eagles are majestic birds of prey that have captured the human imagination for centuries. With their powerful talons, keen eyesight, and impressive aerial skills, these raptors play crucial roles in our ecosystems by controlling the population of smaller animals. While they are not typically dangerous to humans, there are certain scenarios in which interactions with these birds can pose risks. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the characteristics, behaviour, and potential dangers associated with falcons, hawks, and eagles.

Physical Characteristics

Falcons, hawks, and eagles belong to the family Accipitridae and are characterized by their sharp beaks, strong talons, and keen eyesight. Each species has unique physical traits that contribute to their hunting prowess. Falcons, for instance, are known for their streamlined bodies and long, pointed wings that enable them to achieve incredible speeds during flight. Hawks, on the other hand, exhibit a broader range of sizes and shapes, while eagles are characterized by their larger size and powerful build. But regardless of their habitat or strengths, raptors are natural born hunters.

Hunting and Feeding Behaviour

Raptors are carnivorous birds that primarily feed on other animals. Their hunting techniques vary but for the majority of hawks and eagles, their technique often involves soaring through the sky and using their exceptional vision to spot prey on the ground. Once a potential meal is spotted, the bird dives with incredible speed, using its sharp talons to catch and subdue the prey. The powerful beaks of these birds are adapted for tearing apart flesh. But when it comes to falcons, they have a more unique hunting style in which they typically predate on birds rather than ground animals. Many falcons will strike birds to the ground in their fantastical downward diving display in order to stun them first before killing their prey. While others, such as the peregrine falcon, will severe the spinal cord of a bird in flight on direct contact.

Interactions with Humans in Captivity

Positive Relationships

While falcons, hawks, and eagles are not domesticated animals, humans have a long history of forming positive relationships with these birds. Falconry, the practice of using trained birds of prey for hunting, has been a tradition in various cultures for thousands of years. And the way this relationship is formed is through the birds innate ability to survive. Falcons, in particular, are highly valued in falconry due to their speed and agility. When captive, they realize that the falconer is responsible for providing them food. Once this relationship is formed, a falcon will come to this human for food or expect them to provide for them by allowing them the opportunity to catch their own prey.

Dangers of Captive Raptors

Despite the positive aspects of falconry, it is essential to recognize that captive raptors, if mishandled, can pose risks to their handlers. Birds with sharp beaks and talons can cause injuries if not handled properly. Proper training and care are crucial for maintaining a safe and respectful relationship between humans and captive raptors. Many do not realize that a bond formed with a falconer and their bird of prey is not one of companionship and affection, it is strictly based on the falconers ability to provide food for the bird in their care. Once the bird realizes that they will provide them food, they will become more comfortable and relaxed around their handler; but this process also involves many long hours of dedicated ‘manning’ which involves holding a bird of prey on your glove for extended periods of time for them to become comfortable with their new normal.

Potential Risks to Humans

Accidental Encounters

In the wild, falcons, hawks, and eagles are not generally dangerous to humans. They are equipped with powerful tools for hunting and self-defense, but their primary focus is on capturing and consuming prey. Accidental encounters between humans and wild raptors are rare, and these birds are more likely to avoid human presence than to pose a threat. Although there are certain scenarios in which the nest of a raptor is at risk, putting humans at a far greater risk for injury when encountering a bird of prey in the wild.

Nest Defense

During the breeding season, some raptors become more protective of their nests and territories. If humans venture too close to a nest, a bird may perceive them as a potential threat and engage in defensive behaviour. This behaviour is a natural response and not an indication of aggression toward humans. If a nest or nesting site of a raptor is identified, it is crucial to keep your distance. If the nest or the birds pose a danger, please contact us - do not approach on your own.

Urban Environments

As human development encroaches on natural habitats, there is an increasing likelihood of interactions between raptors and humans in urban environments. While these birds play important roles in controlling pest populations, their presence near human settlements can lead to conflicts. This is particularly true in cases where raptors prey on smaller pets or become entangled in human structures. It is also true in cases where birds of prey begin nesting on transmission towers and power lines. At Hawkeye, we specialize in the removal and relocation of such nests. We can also offer protection of your staff against birds of prey attacks while working on transmission towers.

Accidents and Injuries

In rare instances, accidents involving raptors and humans can occur. These accidents may involve collisions between birds and vehicles or instances where a bird of prey perceives a human as a threat and acts defensively. While these occurrences are infrequent, they highlight the importance of coexistence strategies that consider both human and raptor safety. If you wander upon a bird of prey nest, it is best to stay as far away from the area as possible. But sometimes this isn’t possible if the nest is located in your work area or property. Hawkeye has the means to help in situations like these and can provide assistance to ensure a solution for a safe work environment while keeping in mind the welfare of the birds as well.

Conservation and Legal Protections

Importance of Raptors in Ecosystems

Falcons, hawks, and eagles play crucial roles in maintaining ecological balance. They do this by controlling populations of rodents and other small animals. Their presence and predation prevents overpopulation and maintains healthy ecosystems. Recognizing the value of these birds in nature is essential for fostering coexistence and understanding. Falconry also plays an important role in maintaining the wild raptor population. A large percentage of birds of prey don’t make it past their first year in the wild. With falconry, these birds can be captured, tested and treated for disease, taught how to hunt effectively, and then be released back into the wild where they can successfully provide for themselves. This process also reduces the risk of disease spreading through the raptor population.

Legal Protections

Many species of falcons, hawks, and eagles are protected by national and international laws due to their conservation status. The Bald Eagle, for example, is a protected species in Canada and harming or disturbing its nests is strictly prohibited. In fact, in accordance with the Migratory Bird Conservation Act enforced by Canadian Wildlife Services, The Ministry of Natural Resources, and the RCMP the punishment for a single person killing a Bald Eagle is $100,000 and up to five years in prison. These legal protections are vital for ensuring the survival of these birds and maintaining biodiversity.

Mitigating Risks and Promoting Coexistence

Education and Awareness

Educating the public about the behaviour and ecological importance of falcons, hawks, and eagles is crucial for fostering understanding and minimizing potential risks. Awareness campaigns can help people appreciate these birds from a safe distance and take appropriate precautions in areas where raptors are known to nest. With the decline of natural habitats and prey species as well as the impact of climate change we must do our best to learn and keep our wild raptor populations intact.

Responsible Wildlife Management

Wildlife management strategies should prioritize the conservation of raptor species while addressing potential conflicts with human activities. This involves identifying and protecting important nesting sites, implementing measures to reduce accidental encounters, and promoting responsible development practices that consider the needs of both humans and wildlife. Hawkeye can provide environmental surveying to address potential nesting sites of birds of prey in areas that are having conflicts with human activities to ensure that these activities are not encroaching on any critical habitats.

Rehabilitation and Release Programs

Conservation efforts often include rehabilitation and release programs for injured or orphaned raptors. These programs play a vital role in maintaining healthy populations by giving injured birds a second chance at survival. However, the release of rehabilitated raptors should be done thoughtfully, considering factors such as suitable habitats and minimizing the risk of human-wildlife conflicts. This perfectly exemplifies the importance of falconry in our society today. Falconry is not just for sport anymore, it can be used to maintain if not increase the wild raptor population. Falconers who perform wild captures care for birds, treat them for illnesses, prevent the spread of diseases, and then release them back into the wild. This helps up play our part in the conservation of our degrading ecosystems.


In conclusion, falcons, hawks, and eagles are not inherently dangerous to humans. These birds of prey are essential components of ecosystems, contributing to biodiversity and helping control populations of smaller animals. While there are potential risks associated with human interactions, these are minimal when proper precautions are taken. Responsible wildlife management, education, and legal protections are key elements in promoting coexistence between humans and these magnificent raptors. By understanding and appreciating these birds, we can ensure their continued survival and contribute to the health of our planet's ecosystems.

If you are experiencing issues with raptors nesting on your property, or require an environmental survey, Hawkeye is here to help. We have logical, trained falconers on staff that will help come up with an effective solution to your problem. And if you don’t have a pending issue with raptors but would like to get to know more about falconry in general, Hawkeye offers falconry experiences, classes, and more. Contact us today at 416 HAWKEYE for all your bird control and falconry experience needs.


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