Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is a majestic raptor species that breeds in North America and is known for its impressive migrations. These hawks exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males and females having different plumage. Adult Swainson’s Hawks have a length of approximately 18 to 22 inches and a wingspan ranging from 45 to 56 inches. They generally weigh between 1.5 to 2.8 pounds.

Distinguishing field marks of Swainson’s Hawks include their plumage variations. Light-morph adults typically have a white or pale underbelly, a rufous chest, and a distinctive dark “necklace” marking across their chest. They have a broad white throat, and their wings are dark on the top with light crescents near the wingtips. Dark-morph Swainson’s Hawks are predominantly brown with dark underparts and a rufous tail. In both morphs, they have a prominent dark band across their eyes.

Swainson’s Hawks are renowned for their remarkable long-distance migrations. They breed in North America and migrate south to their wintering grounds in South America, covering thousands of miles. During migration, they form large flocks, soaring on thermal updrafts and using their keen eyesight to spot prey on the ground. They are known to use the Central and Mississippi flyways during their journeys.

Breeding Swainson’s Hawks typically construct their nests in trees or on power poles, using sticks, grass, and other materials. A clutch typically consists of 2 to 3 eggs, and both the male and female share incubation duties for about 28 to 35 days. After hatching, the chicks are cared for by both parents and fledge at around 6 to 7 weeks of age.

These hawks are primarily carnivorous, preying on a variety of small mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. They are often seen perched on utility poles or soaring in the sky as they hunt for prey. Swainson’s Hawks are known for their efficient hunting techniques, which include swooping down from the sky to catch prey on the ground.

In conclusion, Swainson’s Hawk is a remarkable raptor species known for its impressive migrations from North America to South America. They exhibit sexual dimorphism in their plumage, with light and dark morphs. These hawks are skilled hunters, preying on a variety of prey, and are often seen soaring during migration. Their annual journeys showcase the incredible feats of avian migration in North America.

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