You are hereSwainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)


Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles

Description: 18-22" (46-56 cm). W. 4' 1" (1.2 m). A large hawk, uniform brown above, white below with warm-brown breast; tail dark brown and indistinctly banded. Longer, more pointed wings than Red-tailed Hawk. Young bird similar to immature Red-tail, but tends to have darker markings on the breast, whereas young Red-tails are more heavily marked on flanks and belly. A rare all-dark form also occurs. Soars with wings held in shallow V.

Habitat: Open plains, grasslands, and prairies.

Nesting: 2-4 white eggs, unmarked or lightly spotted with brown or black, in a large nest of sticks, often placed conspicuously in an isolated tree.

Range: Breeds across much of western United States south to northern Mexico and Texas; locally in Alaska, Yukon, and Mackenzie. Winters chiefly in tropics, but small numbers winter in Florida.

Voice: Long, plaintive, whistled kreee.

Discussion: Named after the English naturalist William Swainson (1789-1855), this species is highly gregarious, often migrating in great soaring flocks of thousands of birds. Its migrations are longer than those of other species; most individuals go all the way to Argentina to spend the winter, making a round trip of as much as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers). On its breeding grounds on the Great Plains, this hawk preys mainly on rodents and huge numbers of grasshoppers.
 
 
 

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