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Swainson's Hawk - Buteo swainsoni

swainson's hawkCharacteristics
Life Cycle


 Class: Aves
 Order: Falconiformes
 Family: Accipitridae
 Genus: Buteo

Swainson's Hawk

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern
    Audio Credit: Nathan Pieplow cc logo
Swainson's HawkSwainson's hawk is a large hawk 18-22 inches in length with a wingspan of four feet. It is dark brown above with a lighter brown chest and a white belly. It has a short, hooked bill and slightly pointed wings. When it is perched, its wings extend beyond its tail. Males and female look alike.

mapSwainson's hawk breeds from extreme western Canada south through most of the western United States and south to Mexico. It winters south to Argentina. A small number of Swainson's hawks winter in Florida.

Swainson's HawkSwainson's hawk lives on open plains, prairies, agricultural areas, and other grasslands. It is often seen perched on poles and fence posts looking for prey.

Swainson's HawkSwainson's hawk eats insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets and locusts. It can sometimes be seen following tractors and snatching up insects that are flushed out. In fact, it is sometimes called the grasshopper hawk. It also eats birds, small rodents, reptiles and amphibians.

  Life Cycle

Swainson's HawkThe male arrives at the breeding territory first and selects a site and builds a nest of sticks in a tree, bush, or on the ground. The female lays 2-4 eggs and incubates them.

When the female has to leave the nest to feed, the male incubates the eggs. The chicks hatch in 28-35 days and fledge when they are about a month old. The chicks first learn to hunt insects on the ground.


Swainson's HawkSwainson's hawks migrate in groups of 20-100 individuals. Migration begins in August and runs through October. Most Swainson's hawks migrate to the La Pampas region in Argentina. Some juvenile hawks may not migrate in the winter.