Swainson's Hawk

Buteo swainsoni

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4

SWHA

Code 6

BUTSWA

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Swainson’s Hawk is a large hawk that may also be known as the Locust Hawk or Grasshopper Hawk. Its preferred breeding grounds are located in open prairies and dry grasslands in western North America. Nests are made of sticks and placed in trees, shrubs or the edge of a natural cliff. During winter months, the Swainson’s Hawk migrates long distances to Argentina, and has been spotted as far away as Norway. This species prefers to dine on grasshoppers and locusts, but may also dine on small mammals and rodents. The conservation rating is currently Least Concern.

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BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Swainson's Hawk: Large hawk, dark brown upperparts, white throat, rufous upper breast, pale buff underparts. Tail is gray with faint bars, dark terminal band, and white trailing edge. Yellow legs, feet. Alternates series of powerful deep wing beats with long glides. Soars on thermals and updrafts.


Range and Habitat

Swainson's Hawk: Breeds on the western plains of North America and southwest Canada from Texas to the Yukon. In the winter, most fly south to the pampas of Argentina, a distance of more than 5,000 miles. Preferred habitats include prairies, plains, and other wide-open ranges with minimal tree cover; commonly seen perched on poles or fence posts.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"kr-e-e-eeeeeer"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Swainson’s Hawk was first described in 1838 by Charles Bonaparte, French naturalist and ornithologist, and nephew of the Emperor Napoleon. It was named after William Swainson, a British naturalist.
  • Chicks frequently kill and eat the youngest nestlings. The killing of siblings may be related to food availability, but the ultimate cause is unknown.
  • It is known as the locust hawk, they will eat numerous amounts of these insects and in turn ingest a high amount of toxin, which causes thinning of egg shells.
  • A group of hawks has many collective nouns, including a "boil", "knot", "spiraling", "stream", and "tower" of hawks.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Swainson's Hawk

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
Terminal bandX
Refers to the contrasting stripe at the tip of the tail.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X