A very long-distance
migrant, Swainson's Hawks winter as far south as the southern tip of South America.
They often congregate in flocks numbering in the thousands as they move
southward in the Fall. They are more
common in the western part of the state, due to their preference for prairie land
with scattered trees. They aren't as common in areas that are predominantly
farmland. Swainson's Hawks have three different color morphs: light,
rufous, and dark. An intermediate (rufous) morph is shown in the photo on the right.
Additional photos, including those of different color morphs, can be found at
the bottom of the page.
Habitat: Plains, dry grassland, farmland,
Diet: Despite it's large size, most often feeds on
large insects. Also small mammals,
reptiles, and birds.
Behavior: Despite its relatively large size,
Swainson's Hawks are very good at catching insects in mid-air. They
also will walk along the ground to forage for insects. Other hunting
strategies include perching and watching for prey, or slowly soaring over
Nesting: May through July
Migration: Summers throughout much of the central
and western United States and Canada. Primarily winters in southern
Similar Species: Depending on morph and age, can appear similar to
Conservation Status: Has generally been declining. Huge numbers of dead
Swainson's Hawks have been found in locations in South America. Heavy
pesticide use in their wintering grounds kill millions of insects, which
concentrations of Swainson's feed on, and thus become poisoned.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Swainson's Hawk
eNature.com - Swainson's Hawk
Photo Information: April 17th, 2006 - Minnehaha County - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Swainson's Hawk photos.