Swainson's Hawk ~ Raptor Series

Kimberly Chadwick

Marana, United States

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Artist's Description

A delicate buteo of western grasslands, prairies, and other open habitat, Swainson’s Hawk forages on insects and rodents from the air as well as on the ground; it sometimes follows plowing operations in agricultural area.

Most species are typical light morphs, but the species shows a wide variety of darker rufous and dark brown plumages.

flying Swainson’s of all ages and morphs can be readily identified by their characteristic long, tapered, rather pointed wings, somewhat reminiscent of a harrier. All plumages but the darkest adults also show a white crescent in the upper coverts, similar to the harriers’ but smaller.

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.
  • 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.
  • Chicks frequently kill and eat the youngest nestlings. The killing of siblings may be related to food availability, but the ultimate cause is unknown.
  • A group of hawks has many collective nouns, including a “boil”, “knot”, “spiraling”, “stream”, and “tower” of hawks.

VOICE Rather similiar to Red-tailed Hawk but weaker and less emphatic

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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