Swainson's Hawk - Buteo swainsoni
Swainson's hawk is a large hawk. It is 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.
Swainson'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 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.
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 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.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Nathan Pieplow