Swainson's Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Swainson's Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Swainson's Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Swainson's Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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Swainson's Hawk
Buteo swainsoni

Hawks, Eagles and Falcons
Hawk Family (Accipitridae)

Size: Length: Males: 48-51 cm/Females: 51-56 cm Wingspan: 132 cm

Description: The Swainson's hawk has both a light and a dark phase. The more common light phase has a dark upper surface with a light underside. When perched, the cheek, forehead, nape, back and wings are dark brown. The throat, breast and belly are white, with a reddish band across the neck. In flight, the underside is light, with the reddish neckband clearly visible. The fan-shaped tail is heavily banded with a dark terminal band. The wings are white to the elbow, with the primaries showing light and dark streaking.

The dark phase is almost entirely black, with the exception of a light chin and yellowish beak. The tail also shows similar banding to the light phase.

Similar Species: The red-tailed hawk has an unbanded red tail, and lacks the dark bib of the Swainson's hawk.

Range: The Swainson's hawk is more common on the plains than in the mountains, but may be locally common throughout the Rocky Mountains east of the continental divide.

Habitat: Swainson's hawks prefer partly open country with trees for nesting.

Diet: They are fond of mice, voles and the occasional ground squirrel, not to mention amphibians, snakes and even large insects.

Nesting: They build a large, conspicuous nest of twigs, branches, grass lined with leaves, lichens and plant materials. The nest may be a metre (3.3 ft) across and 5-12 cm (2-5 in) deep. The female usually lays 2 white (slightly blotchy) eggs and both parents take turns incubating. The semi-altricial young hatch after 28 days and will be cared for by both parents. They fledge at 4-5 weeks.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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