Sunday, August 31, 2014

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson's hawk migrates farther than any other North American raptor. It winters in South America and spends spring and summer in North America. I saw these Swainson's hawks, three of them, a parent and two juveniles, just outside Alamosa, Colorado in August 2014, standing on or near a stick nest in a tree near the edge of a dirt road. 
An adult Swainson's hawk (right), apparently a dark morph, and a juvenile to the left, on a stick nest in a tree. 
This juvenile was standing a few yards away in the same tree. Note the incomplete bib on its chest.
Adults have a dark reddish bib across a white chest and a white throat and face patch, dark flight feathers and light underwing coverts, the feathers on the leading edge of the wing before the flight feathers. The tail has about six narrow dark bands and one wider bottom band. Juveniles usually have an orange hue and a bib missing the center portion. About 10% are a dark morph version which looks quite a bit different. The bib is difficult to discern and the flight feathers may look light in contrast with the dark body and darker underwing coverts. It has a light patch at the base of the tail. 
One juvenile takes flight while the other contemplates it.
This juvenile has an orange hue, the lighter leading edge of the wing feathers and the banded tail feathers. 
A side view of the flying hawk.

After taking flight, this juvenile landed in another tree down the road which also had a large stick nest in it. 


  1. Great nest. Nice to see mom and dad hanging out together.

  2. Great pictures of the hawk in flight.

  3. I see more dark morphs in San Diego's North County. Glad to see it pictured. Just saw one land on a pole outside my work. Rather suburban out here. Mottled land with open space and heavy development. Awesome.