Swainson's Hawk

Buteo swainsoni




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to light blue green with light brown marks

Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

6 - 70 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with inner bark, fresh leaves, flower clusters, down and feathers.





Swainson's Hawk: Large hawk with dark brown upperparts, white throat, rufous upper breast, and pale buff underparts. Tail is gray with faint bars, dark terminal band, and white trailing edge. Rare dark morph has uniformly dark brown upperparts and underparts with white throat patch. Intermediate colorations between light and dark morphs exist, and include a rufous morph. Sexes are similar.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Swainson's Hawk: Lays two to four white to light blue green eggs, marked with light brown, in a nest made of sticks and branches built in a tree, shrub, on the ground, or on top of a utility pole. Both parents incubate eggs for about 30 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Swainson's Hawk: Diet consists of insects, small mammals and birds, and occasional reptiles and amphibians.


Swainson's Hawk: Call is a thin, plaintive, down-slurred "kreeeeeeer."

Similar Species

Swainson's Hawk: Broad-winged Hawk lacks dark chest and has broader tail bands. White-tailed Hawk lacks dark chest, has paler underparts, and a single tail band.


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

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
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