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Birds of North America, Vagrant Visitors, Introduced Birds and Possibilities

Swainson's Hawk

Buse de Swainson

Buteo swainsoni

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Species: The Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), is observed on the western prairies and lesser treed regions of North America. Feeds on small animals and insects, such as ground squirrels and grasshoppers. Similar in size to the Red-tailed Hawk, but more lean, with longer and pointier wings. Commonly, seen perched on fence posts along highways.

Distinctions: The male and female are similar looking, female larger in size, dark feathered head. Dichromatic in nature, seen from light coloured bodies, through shades of intermediate, to dark brown bodies. Light coloured birds can be easily be distinguish from other hawk species by their dark bibs. Has one subterminal tail band, with multi-small dark bands. Displays four distinguished primaries, visible, when flying, wings slightly dihedral when soaring. Juveniles lighter in colour, develops mature plumage over a couple of years.

Voice: Mostly silent, may at times give a low sounding whistle.

Nesting: Two to four, multi-coloured blue, green, white and brown eggs, one brood per year. Nest is constructed in gullies or small groves of trees. Built using branches, sticks, bark and plant fibres. Reuses nest from prior years.

Birds of North America
B L W W W Family Latin Name
19" 48.3cm 51" 129.5cm 1.9 lb 861.8g Accipitridae Buteo swainsoni

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter

Distribution: Commonly, seen throughout the mid-west prairies, from Manitoba, west to southern British Columbia, south into eastern California, east to Texas, and up through the mid-west states, including a small region in the northern parts of the Yukon Territory. Migrates into South America in the early fall, seen in migration kettles, as large, as a couple thousand hawks at a time.

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database

ABA - American Birding Association

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society

ABC - American Bird Conservancy

eBird - TheCornellLab of Ornithology

NA - National Geographic

NAC - National Audubon Society

Classic Collection of North American Birds