SWAINSON’S HAWK

SWAINSON’S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Swainson’s Hawk adult has two morphs, a light one and a dark one. The vast majority of birds have the former. It has a brown head, back, wings and bib-like reddish-brown breast. Throat is whitish. Tail is brown with white barring. Under wing shoulders are whitish in the white morph, Under parts are white with brown and cinnamon barring. Rump is white. Base of hooked bill is yellow, tip is grey-brown. Legs and feet are yellow, talons are black. Sexes are similar, with the female larger. Juvenile is mottled brown and light salmon pink. Bird length is about 50 cm (19 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Buteo-swainsoni
NAME: ‘Hawk’ would stem from ‘to have’, meaning to seize or grasp. The name ‘Swainson’s’ was given to this bird in honour of British ornithologist William John Swainson. Latin genus name ‘Buteo’ means ‘hawk’. Also called ‘Locust Hawk’ because of its diet.
HABITAT: Open country such as farm and ranch land, plains.
DIET: Small mammals, birds, reptiles, also large insects such as grasshoppers.
NESTING: Nest is a stick platform built in a tree or tall shrub. Two or three light blue eggs are laid, incubated by female. Nestlings fed by both parents. Older chicks will kill and eat their younger siblings at times.
DISTRIBUTION: For the most part breeds in south central Canada, western USA (except the coast) and northern Mexico. Winters in southeast South America.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swainson%27s_hawk – /media/File:Distribution_of_Buteo_swains
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Population stable, currently not at risk.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Red-tailed Hawk
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/swainsons-hawk
American Bird Conservancy (Swainson’s Hawk)
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/swainsonshawk.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/swainsons-hawk
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/44/behavior/Swainsons_Hawk.aspx
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABNKC19070 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Buteo_swainsoni/ (University of Michigan)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swainson%27s_hawk
https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/swainsons-hawk/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://birdatlas.mb.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=SWHA&lang=en (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)

Swainson's Hawk - Barr Lake State Park, CO - Mar. 2007 - photo by lostinfog
Swainson’s Hawk – Barr Lake State Park, CO – Mar. 2007 – photo by lostinfog
Swainson's Hawk on agave flower stem - Mexico - July 2011 - photo by panza.rayada
Swainson’s Hawk on agave flower stem – Mexico – July 2011 – photo by panza.rayada
Swainson's Hawk light morph in flight - Little Rainbow Valley, AZ - Apr. 2015 - photo by Dominic Sherony
Swainson’s Hawk light morph in flight – Little Rainbow Valley, AZ – Apr. 2015 – photo by Dominic Sherony
Swainson's Hawk dark morph in flight - Little Rainbow Valley, AZ - Apr. 2015 - photo by Dominic Sherony
Swainson’s Hawk dark morph in flight – Little Rainbow Valley, AZ – Apr. 2015 – photo by Dominic Sherony

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